If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog of memories and observations. If you wish to be notified of new posts, enter an e-mail address above, and click on "Submit." As we move through a seventh year of this venture, I thank all who have made regular visits, as well as fellow bloggers who have found Stomp Off worth linking to. Doing this sort of thing is time-consuming, but I try to post fresh material at least once a week—let me know what you think. There is a Commentary option at the end of each post and a Guest Book can be reached by scrolling down and clicking on the quill image. I welcome your observations, reaction and/or suggestions in either spot—or both. As for blog content, the most current posts are on the home page, starting at the top. Earlier items are listed by month, year and title in the archive index. To zero in on a particular key word or subject, use the search option that is located directly beneath the blog's masthead. Most images can be enlarged with a mouse click, and there are links to some of my favorite blogs, etc. Since visitors have come from 150 countries, a translator with numerous languages is located below. You can at any time revert to English with a click at the top left of this page:

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You may have noticed that I have been neglecting this blog in recent months. One reason is that I have been devoting much time to another blog, WBAI-NowThen, which I started about three years ago when I discovered that the station had stagnated and was being run by opportunists who abuse it and have taken the intellectual level way down. My love affair with that station goes back more than fifty years. The chance of it surviving this latest management team is slim—it has already lost the overwhelming majority of its listeners, which is not good for a listener-sponsored radio station.

The other reason for my neglect is that my reel to reel tape decks are not up to snuff—I am working to correct that, In the meantime, I had also shipped several tapes to my friend, Karl Emil Knudsen, in Copenhagen, but he passed away before he could return them, leaving bit of a mess. Karl Emil never took to gadgets, so many details were stored in the computer we all are born with. At first, tracking down the tapes led to —the place where he stored much of his information—was his own memory. We had known each other since the early Fifties, and he used to stay with me when he came to New York on business. So, there was nothing around to guide Karl Emil's family or staff in making the proper disposition of my tapes, and I was in no rush to claim them. This blog eventually changed that, so I began to explore where they might be located and a vague trail led to the Center for Danish Jazz History at Aalborg University. They have a big chunk of Karl Emil's collection, but none of my tapes.

Meade Lux Lewis in the studio, November 1, 1961. (photo Chris Albertson)
Then, recently, Karl Emil's longtime friend, Mona Granager, found them. Mona's name is well known among record buyers, and almost synonymous with Storyville Records, Karl's label, which she helped him run for many years, and continues to manage. It turned out that my tapes were stored at the Royal Library in Copenhagen. Now they are at Storyville, ready to be digitized and sent back to me on discs. Not everything I had hoped for was there, so such things as my interviews with Billie Holiday, Rex Stewart and Willie "the lion" Smith are probably still buried in my tape closet, but there are some goodies that I expect to be sharing with you soon. In the meantime, here's something to caress your ears: Meade Lux Lewis playing "Rough Seas." It's from the session we did at Plaza Sound Studio, above Radio City Music Hall, November 1, 1961.


  1. Chris, I just wanted to say hello. I read your biography on Bessie about 5 years ago and promptly bought four more copies to give away as gifts. Amazing book and Bessie was an incredible person. It was a great introduction into the world of jazz for a history geek like me. A lot of connections in time were made for me. I'm rereading that copy and it made think to look you up. I have so many questions for you. But, I just say thank you for all your time and hard work put into writing the book.

    1. Thank you, Kiley.

      I greatly appreciate your kind words re Bessie, and I will gladly attempt to answer any questions you might have for me. You can post them in any of this blog's comment spots—I will read the and—if you include an e-mail address—respond directly to you without publishing your questions (unless, of course, you wish me to).

    2. A fine recording, from someone I associate with classic New Orleans music. Thanks for the post.

      However, I am writing primarily to let you know that upon the passing of an old pally of mine, I inherited a box of reel to reel tapes from him. They got boxed up with all of my reels when I moved, and in sorting them out, a few of them were WBAI airchecks, some of which appear to have been made at BAI (one was in a box with the yellow continuity label on it). One reel was labeled 'Scraps' from 8/68.

      As a regular 'Scraps' listener (Yes, I was the one), and someone who airchecked some shows (still have a few), I quickly cued it up... played just fine... 15 minutes of vintage 'Scraps'.

      I am writing to inquire as to if you would like me to digitalize it for you to download, or if you wish, send you the reel. 'Scraps' was one of those programs that influence my early tape editing, and made me seriously consider radio as a career (although it turned out to be a 25 plus year hobby for me).

      I found out you were still alive and quite well, following the ongoing saga of WBAI, and its impending demise. Frankly, save for a handful of programmers doing something unique and compelling, it will not be missed I am sorry to say.

      I was a volunteer at BAI back in it's heyday at 30 East 39th Street, when it provided the type of vital, informative and entertaining radio that it rarely manages to do today... and for the most part, has failed to do for decades. It demanded you care, care enough to give of your time and money, because it featured personalities and presenters who cared... and gave great radio!

      When I began fooling around at radio by putting my own pirate station on the air some 25 plus years ago, I did so because of the dearth of the type of radio I was seeking. Fortunately WBCQ has provided me gratis air time to follow my prime directive for almost 15 years!

      And you are among those I owe THANKS to, 'Scraps' along with 'Techie Time', were an influential part of my radio diet, and made me long to do something similar.

      I also must thank you for turning me on to Uncle Sid... now there is a crazy person doing my kind of radio. No agenda driven, same old, same old, by rote radio rot from that character. If WBAI does go bye, bye, perhaps I can get him to do 'radio' of sorts on the internet. As even I attract a reliably rabid audience, I know he surely would!

      If BAI continues it's suicide march to oblivion, I'll not miss it, save for the relative handful of talents there that create unique content worthy of it's ESB based signal. I have barely and rarely listened in many a decade, to the narrow casting nonsense of many of it's core air personalities, the wack jobs, the self promoters hawking their tinctures and potions, the astrological phonies, and the proverbial plethora of other con artist and communications charlatans wasting precious air time on a station that was one a precious commodity that meant something to so many.

      Now, the spent shell of BAI, about to put itself out of our misery, is a jumbled mess of ego driven dolts and fakers, unworthy of our support no less our time. Too bad, but then, the internet does supply me with most all the alternative view points and music I require, making BAI even less relevant.

      I only hope those at WBAI who are doing great, interesting, and entertaining radio, continue to somewhere. There is just not enough unique content out there now, and such content is what I believe radio overall needs, to survive as a viable option for news, views, entertainment and music. I think it can happen, and yet, I'm one of those who is too realistic to be at all sanguine about it's future. Thanks again pally!

      John Lightning WBCQ & Radio NewYork International (www.Johnlightning.com)

      E Mail: Johnplightning@AOL.com