She’s a little piece of data don’t you know

This muddles my narrative a wee bit but is promising

Stella Brooks(1910-2002) is earning money, 18 years after her death and, in effect, loaning the money back to the people of the United States for cultural purposes.
The San Francisco singer has seven songs among the 60,000 in the catalog of Folkways, part of the Smithsonian, which is a public cultural trust.
I received by snail mail her royalty statement that shows she earned $25 (twenty five dollars) in the second half of 2019, and has a total of $108 on account, which is what I mean by a loan back to the system.
She sold eight cds to earn $4, and 57,000 streams to earn another $21 for her performances.
Although I have a comp copy of a cd compilation or EP with just her songs, the searchable title is a split EP with Greta Keller called “Diverse Songs and Moods of the 1940s…”
Her songbook comprises these seven standards, of six standards and her signature song which is a chesnut or novelty song:
“Ballin’ the Jack” — 12,308 (earns the label $52 and she $3;
“I’m A Little Piece of Leather” — 8,426 ($50 and $2.50);
“As Long As i Live” — 8,399 ($86 unless that’s a typo and $4);
“I’ll Never Be The Same” — 8,147 ($44 and $2);
“Jazz Me Blues” — 6,967 ($39 and $2);
“West End Blues” — 6,739 ($52 and $3);
“St. Louis Blues” — 6,085 ($27 and $1).

The composers include, in order, Harlold Arlen, W.C. Handy.

The producer was Mo Asch, the label founder. Woody Guthrie wrote the liner notes; some people might find these recordings if they are fans of the sidemen and instrumentalists which include Joe Sullivan, piano; Sidney Bechet, clarinet.

“Ballin’ the Jack” refers to the railroad culture and the history of a type of code wherein a full ball means “go” and no ball means slow or stop; it’s slang for “go fast” more than the sense of “balling” to mean have sex. The vernacular expressed itself as far as the Grateful Dead song or songs about railroad speeds.

Although there are other people’s versions of “She’s a Little Piece of Leather” and a northern soul disco version in the UK, for a minute there it seemed like Stella had a writer’s credit here, which might have triggered additional royalties. As a red herring, the Beatles have a version captured during a sound check. The singer of the most famous blues version, Peetie Wheatstraw is himself the subject of several controversies about his actual identity — and a different character in a movie that used that name.

When I saw Stella’s obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, I was struck by just the intensity of her stare. I reached out to the family and offered to try to promote her legacy and to try to get her recordings re-released or prioritized at the label — it would be great if her performances were used as needle drops in major movies.

Because of her friendship with Tennessee Williams, Stella was recently the subject of a play by Terry Abrahamson at a festival in Massachusetts, “Jazz Funeral for Stella Brooks“.

At one point I imagined she could become some sort of a patron or matron saint of underappreciated singers and artists in San Francisco.

I’m not planning to collect a share, but I would think that she should be able to make more than $25 per term; David Lowery a few years ago wrote an article that said his hit single for Cracker only earned enough to buy a t-shirt thru a major streaming platform.

I believe that eventually writers (and performers) will get a fair shake from the streaming platforms.

She left seven songs and a little trove of datum don’t you know.

bw MENDOZA LINES AND SQUIGGLES Mario Mendoza had 90 hits in 441 at bats but the Topps trading card lists his lifetime major league average as “.278”. This is problematic because “the Mendoza Line” is somewhat famous as a mark of futility; it’s really closer to .200. There’s a band called The Mendoza Line. I have my theory about the concept. To me the answer is not simply “.200” it has to do with concept that your batting average should be higher than your body weight, “he can’t hit his weight”. There’s a related taunt about him being “the strongest man in the league” because the Sunday paper’s used to print the entire table of batters – roughly 500 players – -and if you were very last, around .180 or .199 you had all the other names, in a sense, piled up on top of you. So this 1979 card is troubling in its error in his favor. Also, I think he looks like he weighs more than the 170 lb listed here, at age 30. If Mario Mendoza really weighed 170 and hit .278 he would not me immortalized in this joking manner. He is really batting .204 and I’m guessing he runs about 210 here, just like me. Mario turns 70 this Christmas season.

Good fielder, better than Cecil or Prince, there

and 1: Mendoza Line has a sad powerful song about an immigrant losing his life in an industrial accident if Mario’s country of origin is very commentary and a good segue; Maybe Shannon McArdle wants to re-record the songs of Stella Brooks, circling the bases. May 12 coming up is the fictional date of the accident in this song:

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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