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The Late Movies: Great Performances by Blind Musicians

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As a musician (OK, maybe musician is too strong a word; I do, after all, play the banjo), I'm impressed by anyone who has total control of his or her instrument. Whatever your axe of choice, if you can make the thing sing, it's impressive. These performances are impressive, sure. They'd be impressive no matter who did them. They're just that much more impressive because the musicians are blind.

Jeff Healey: "See the Light"

Healey had a brief stint on the rock/pop stage in the late "˜80s/early "˜90s with his work in the movie Roadhouse, but it was really his work as a blues and jazz guitarist that set him apart. That and the unique lap-style he uses to shred!

Rashaan Roland Kirk: "Making Love After Hours"

Kirk thought that just playing one saxophone was a bit boring, so he played three, plus a flute, a nose flute, a clarinet, a police siren, and anything else he could get his hands on. Had he just stuck to one sax at a time, he'd probably be remembered as one of the best players of the 20th century. Instead, his rather crazy penchant for multiple horns has discounted his musicality in the mind of jazz purists. I still think he's pretty swell.

Ray Charles: "In The Evening"

Brother Ray. "˜Nuff said.

Doc Watson: "Black Mountain Rag"

Probably one of the finest flat-picking bluegrass guitarists ever, Doc Watson. Roll forward to 1:00 for the start of the song, or to 3:00 to see the fireworks show.

Stevie Wonder: "Alfie"

Stevie has been a popular subject here on Late Movies. I figured I'd choose a clip showing off his harmonica skills. Gotta dig that Burt Bacharach creepily staring at Stevie the whole time. Fast forward to 1:30 for the start of the song.

Marcus Roberts: "Ain't Misbehavin'"

Roberts was a fixture in Wynton Marsalis's band in the "˜80s and into the "˜90s. He's pretty much a stud.

Bob Ringwald: "The Pearls"

Bob is a fixture in the traditional jazz scene here in Sacramento. His piano playing is pretty stellar. He also happens to be the father of "˜80s fixture Molly Ringwald.

Nobuyuki Tsujii: "Etude No. 3"

This is just flat out impressive.

Art Tatum: "Yesterdays"

This is cheating just a little. Tatum was legally blind by today's standards, blind in one eye and with only about 10% vision in the other. Nevertheless, he was probably the most technically proficient jazz pianist of all time.
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This is by no means a complete list. If you know of any other great blind musicians, let us know in the comments.


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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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