Simone, in short, is a true diva, a brilliant and unique talent far removed from the shitmongers with which the big labels associate that term, a Moses-like figure standing atop a mountain in righteous judgment. So implant those Mariah Carey albums where the sun don't shine and get some culture in your life, You-Go Girl.
The liner notes on ROBERT LOCKWOOD JR.'s new CD put the man's career in perspective. When he was born in 1915, the Civil War was only 50 years ago, and World War I had not yet begun. Woodrow Wilson occupied the White House, and Thomas Edison's newfangled recording device was cutting-edge technology. Motherfucker is ooooold!So it's nothing short of awe-inspiring to hear Lockwood playing better than ever on Delta Crossroads (Telarc Records), a whole album of solo acoustic 12-string guitar blues, most stunning originals and Robert Johnson covers (as a child, Lockwood was mentored by Johnson). Lockwood's take on Johnson is singular: rather than imitating the master's style (which he can do note for note when the spirit moves him), he employs unusual off-time phrasing, tricky fingerpicking and an unexpected use of white space. Many tunes are counted off by Lockwood's foot tapping time on a hardwood floor, adding to the down-home flavor of the proceedings. This album is so simple and honest it's positively exotic by today's standards. Nope, there's no scratchers or sampling to be found here, but you must run out and buy a copy anyway, backward-ball-cap boy.
Little Milton plays at the Blue Cafe, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. Fri., 10 p.m. $15 in advance, $20 at he door; Nina Simone performs at the Wiltern Theatre, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 380-5005. Thurs., June 22, 8 p.m. $48-$103.