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In Search of Blind Joe Death

A new film has been released about guitarist John Fahey titled “In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey” (NYTimes review). Trailer can be viewed here, and an interview with director James Cunningham on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show can be heard here. [more inside]
posted by indices on Aug 17, 2013 - 9 comments

Skip James' Hard Time Killing Floor Blues

...James is, of course, overshadowed by the most famous bluesman of them all: Robert Johnson... Few can resist the legend that he sold his soul to the devil, was poisoned by a jealous lover, and died a young genius's death... Skip James' mythos is less compact than Johnson's. James survived his misspent youth, and the story of his later years provides plenty more of the kind of misery that fueled his music. Where Johnson supposedly cut a single, grand deal with the devil—trading his soul for mastery of his form—Skip James seems to have struck deal after deal and never come out ahead. In a way, James' story is the truest story of the blues: He led an open wound of a life, and all he got for it was minor-league, post-mortem stardom.
Skip James' Hard Time Killing Floor Blues

See also Mississippi John Hurt & Skip James on WTBS-FM 1964 [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Jun 15, 2013 - 17 comments

Robbie Basho Archive Live Shows

Robbie Basho, "the father of the American Raga," recorded for John Fahey's Takoma label. He's often grouped with Fahey, Max Ochs, and Sandy Bull as a progenitor of "guitar soli," complex avant garde acoustic guitar (and other stringed instrument) playing. The Basho archives has posted two live shows, one from 1978, and the second from 1982, for streaming or download, and a 1983 radio interview and show for streaming.
posted by OmieWise on Jan 15, 2012 - 10 comments

J. J. Cale is a kind, unassuming god

J. J. Cale is one of those artists* who has been more influential among other musicians than well-known to the public. Here are some live performances of J. J. and band playing Clyde, Cajun Moon, After Midnight, Magnolia, Drifter's Wife, Birds' Song, and Tijuana. Today's Nilsson posting made me think that fondness for these characters is one of the things that binds me to the MetaFilter community. [more inside]
posted by dylanjames on Feb 6, 2010 - 21 comments

O Black and Unknown Bards - Among Other Things, Regarding The White Invention of The Blues

...The narrative of the blues got hijacked by rock ’n’ roll, which rode a wave of youth consumers to global domination. Back behind the split, there was something else: a deeper, riper source. Many people who have written about this body of music have noticed it. Robert Palmer called it Deep Blues. We’re talking about strains within strains, sure, but listen to something like Ishman Bracey’s ''Woman Woman Blues,'' his tattered yet somehow impeccable falsetto when he sings, ''She got coal-black curly hair.'' Songs like that were not made for dancing. Not even for singing along. They were made for listening. For grown-ups. They were chamber compositions. Listen to Blind Willie Johnson’s "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.'' It has no words. It’s hummed by a blind preacher incapable of playing an impure note on the guitar. We have to go against our training here and suspend anthropological thinking; it doesn’t serve at these strata. The noble ambition not to be the kind of people who unwittingly fetishize and exoticize black or poor-white folk poverty has allowed us to remain the kind of people who don’t stop to wonder whether the serious treatment of certain folk forms as essentially high- or higher-art forms might have originated with the folk themselves.
From Unknown Bards: The blues becomes apparent to itself by one John Jeremiah Sullivan. I came across it while browsing Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers On The Albums That Changed Their Lives. For Sullivan, that album was American Primitive, Vol. II: Pre-War Revenants (1897 - 1939), which is my favorite CD of the year. Which came out in 2005 while I just got around to buying it this year. Foolish me. It is a piece of art in itself in every respect--all CDs should have such production values. [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Aug 6, 2009 - 50 comments

The Beast of the Long-Neck Banjo

Billy Faier got tired of burning copies of his long-out-of-print albums, and is giving them away: The Art of the Five String Banjo (1957), Travelin' Man (1958), The Beast of Billy Faier (1964), Banjo (1973) and Banjoes, Birdsong and Mother Earth (1987). [more inside]
posted by scruss on Jun 28, 2009 - 13 comments

Wrath of the Grapevine: The Roots of John Fahey

So, about 9 months ago I started working on this compilation... Until yesterday, however, I hadn't seen a tracklist from the mysterious 10-cd set called the VrootzBox, so this is not a derivative work, however similar it may be...I should mention that not all of these songs are songs that he covered or copped licks from. Most of the music he has made mention to, though a few of the songs were recorded after his formative years and one or two he never would have heard. But they are presented to give an illustration of the styles he drew from (such as gamelan, which he grew up playing in his neighbor's back yard).
Wrath of the Grapevine: The Roots of John Fahey
via FaheyGuitarPlayers
posted by y2karl on Jun 1, 2008 - 12 comments

Telegram from the Future

kkerins made a dozen charming and moving fan videos out of public domain film and music by John Fahey, The Rachel's and others. Two to start with are "Fight On Christians! Fight On!" and "Wally, Egon and the Models in the Studio".
posted by ardgedee on Nov 18, 2007 - 5 comments

John Fahey - Fare Forward Voyagers

John Fahey - Fare Forward Voyagers
John Fahey - Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Palace Of King Phillip XIV
Clips from a 2 hour performance at the Euphoria Tavern in Portland, Oregon from 1976. Among the cognoscenti at FaheyGuitarPlayers, the consensus is that these clips display Fahey in rare form on a very good night.
Apart from Fahey, Bohemia Visual Music aka Mike Nastra, the contributor of these clips, provides an interesting assortment of way too hip YouTubery offerings including, among others, Spike Jones, Dimandas Galas, Gene Krupa, Tuxedo Moon, Sun Ra, Pere Ubu and the Holy Modal Rounders.
posted by y2karl on Oct 16, 2007 - 9 comments

I Remember Blind Joe Death

John Fahey - 1969, Part 1
John Fahey - 1969, Part 2
John Fahey - 1969, Part 3
John Fahey - 1969, Part 4
See also The Thong Club
And Previously
Via FaheyGuitarPlayers
posted by y2karl on Jun 21, 2007 - 35 comments

John Fahey at Rockpalast - Hamburg Uni, Hamburg, West Germany - 1978-03-17and otherwise on YouTube

John Fahey in concert: Beverly (aka Indian Pacific Railroad Blues) Poor Boy (Which is a variation on Booker White's Poor Boy Long Way from Home)
posted by y2karl on Oct 22, 2006 - 19 comments

Turtle sex, chiropractic death, and peyote under the pillow: a year-by-year account of American primitive guitar

...Record collectors are typically thought of as irascible loners, but in the Washington of the ’50s and early ’60s, there existed a group of scruffy young blues and folk fans who could’ve given the Illuminati a run for their all-seeing eyes. They thought of themselves as the guardians of a tradition the rest of the world had either forgotten or misinterpreted. They adopted fake names. They invented strange mythologies. They hatched plans to bring their favorite historical figures back from the dead--or at least back from the commercial oblivion to which the music biz had consigned them. But most of all, they inspired admiration and awe. Though they never used the term themselves, this bunch of vintage-78 obsessives was known by others as the East Coast Blues Mafia.
The Thong Club
via FaheyGuitarPlayers

posted by y2karl on Jul 13, 2006 - 20 comments

Last Meals.

The Last Request: Selected Last Meals of Texas Death Row Inmates. [flash] [+]
posted by monju_bosatsu on Dec 11, 2004 - 23 comments

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