November 25, 2009

Blind Brand X (aka Ragtime Ralph) - Yesterday I'll Be Happy

Ragtime Ralph is back! In case you haven't already figured it out, Ralph and Blind Brand X are one in the same. Sort of... There is no doubt that Ralph has separated the two in his mind, and on his guitar. They do not play the same style. But they do share a love of Fahey's music and of course the talent to translate that into fantastic listening!
This is Ralph's 6th release on Empty Square Records. Though he hasn't released any actual 'records' of the black w/grooves type, there is some people out there that seem to be pining for such a thing. Maybe someday? No knowing. However, Ralph has out done himself on this release with a 20 page booklet. The scans are included.
Some of my favorites on this release are
Bringing in the Sheaves
Blessed be the Name
And the Blues Come Down Baby Like Showers of Rain
When the Saints Go Marching In
As the Sun Slowly Melts All My Blues Away
and the amazing Ring of Fire. Yes, that Ring of Fire made famous by Johnny Cash. Ralph, let me say that one is a stroke of genius!

Get the music here

Enjoy and be sure to drop back by after you give it a listen and let me know what you think!



  1. its HUGE

    and that means. its huge

    its good. i like it. "the ring of fire" version is great.

    he kills Jack Rose and thankfully stays off the esoteric Raga going nowhere land.

  2. Haha! I'm glad you like it, I told you it was good! Thanks for the comment!
    Now, better than Jack Rose? I dunno, I'm a pretty big fan of both of these guys, but I agree about the Raga's. Seem like they fail as often as not.

  3. ive been liking him for some time! thanks for the records.

  4. Thank you so much for posting these albums, his music is really great, and I had never heard of him before visiting your blog.
    Gotta get something off of my chest though...Comparing Ralph to Rose is like comparing apples and oranges. People have to look past the superficial similarities of the artists and focus on their individual voices.
    A perfect example; the term "Fahey-esque". It gets thrown onto ANYTHING that shares a fleeting similarity to Fahey's music, or most musics that are just solo acoustic guitar. No one sounds like Fahey except for Fahey, a totally unique voice. His voice has influenced many, but is very rarely truly evoked.
    Honestly, Ralph is the only guitarist I can think of off the top of my head that is actually "Fahey-esque", he bites off of Fahey's tunes pretty blatantly, as well as his tunings. I don't mean this as a negative criticism, Ralph's Fahey-influence has resulted in some great work that is his own and is very moving. In a positive way, his music really points out the inaccuracy of the overused Fahey-esque descriptor slapped on to the vast quantity of guitarists playing today.
    Has anybody else been irked by this?

  5. Yes, the term does get a lot of misuse, no doubt about it. One of my “favorites” is when it is used to describe M. Ward. But I think this is what happens to people that are innovators and icons. It comes with the territory, and it really is a compliment. Isn’t it a lot like the saying: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? The musicians aren’t trying to be exactly like Fahey, but Fahey is in fact the jumping off point and many a reviewer has no other reference point than John Fahey. A testament to just how large he looms in the fingerstyle/solo-guitar universe. So it doesn’t irk me, but I do take it with a few gains of salt whenever I hear it.

  6. Hiowdy everyone! Blind Brand X here...Faheys music was THE first guitar based music that pulled me out of the teenage doldrums and gave me something to work and concentrate on. It literally saved my life...drugs, alcohol and possible suicide were the path I was travelling
    on when I first heard Johns music...I saw the sheer beauty of his work and wanted to stay around awhile to hear more of it and try my hand at creating a little bit of it. I'm happy with what I've done...I wouldn't change a thing...
    because all that stuff lead me to "Yesterday I'll Be Happy"...I play music just for the satisfaction of being able to create some little moments of beauty that make me happy...
    I don't give two shits about making a cent off of what I do...'cause what I do is therapy for me every day...I feel good when I play and that keeps me on the path instead of wallowing in the ditch. Playing guitar is worth more to me than a billion dollars in psychoanalytic bills! Music has helped me overcome the negative aspects of growing up...and some of the stuff that Fahey and other people told me made me realize that John and I had many, many points of similarity in our lives. That being said, I would like to thank you all for your kind words about what I do. I hope to continue to share with you all the fruits of my labors. Cheers! RC Johnston/Blind Brand X

  7. keep playing and sharing it! and i will keep listening!

    ive got most of your albums on my ipod now, and its all great.

    thank you.

  8. Hiowdy again! Blind Brand X here...although I like some of the "ragaesque" stuff that's out there, that style has never been my forte'. I met and chatted with Robbie Basho at the Soft Rock Cafe back in the early '80s. We had been introduced by Alex Varty, music critic for the Georgia Straight. My favorite Basho album was "Basho Sings" and on that album was that beautiful song "Dance Calinda"...that was the highlight of Bashos work for me. But personally, I find alot of that ragaesque stuff to have lots of technique, but not enough melody for my taste. I'd rather hear more melody and less technique...the technique part always reminds me of showing I'm the fastest guitarist alive...and I think that there's a large portion of the listeners out there that are impressed by that kind of's just not my cup of tea as some would say. Cheers! RC Johnston/Blind Brand X.

  9. hear ye! hear ye!

    less technique, more melody. all in favor!

  10. Hiowdy! When it comes to melody over technique
    my favorite songs of all time (non Fahey/Takoma cuts)are: "Charley Town" by Dan Lambert, "Goon Lagoon" by Scott Key, "Flight" by George Cromarty, "Candied Apples" and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" by Woody Harris, "Wreck of the Last Steam Engine Train" by Bob Hadley...the first cut on William Ackermans first Windham Hill album ranks up there...these "modern" tunes make me cry with their beautiful's the melodies that win me over...not the technique...I don't give a damn how fancy somebody plays...just give me a song that moves me with its melody and I'll worry about the technique later...Cheers! Blind Brand X.

  11. Yeah! Another fan of Will Ackerman! Thanks for coming by and stirring up the comments Ralph! Can't stop listening to Ring of Fire!

  12. i commented earlier. and i have to double agree on the "ring of fire" version. its really great!

    Blind Brand X = maybe you could direct a mixtape of youre favorites for download?

    those tracks you already mentioned and some more?

    just an idea. thanks again for the album.

  13. Hiowdy folks! Blind Brand X again! I hope I don't come off sounding critical when I talked about technique and raga not being my cup of's the same thing I feel when folks talk about Robert Johnson and Skip James...I like a few each of their songs but the REAL BLAST for me is listening to Charlie Patton, Bukka White and Mississippi John Hurt...those guys really have "IT"...they've got what it takes to move me on so many different levels...
    I still haven't got it figured out...but I'll just keep on keeping long as I have air in my lungs and feeling in my fingers...
    and...many thanks to all of you for all the kind, positive responses I've recieved regarding my recordings...I have no plans to expand into vinyl (although I would like to) or to get any more into the "BIZ"...I'd like to destress my life alot more and do a bunch more concerts in my backyard...ensconced on my porch swing with a couple of cold ones in the cooler...and anytime anyone is in my vicinity, email me and I'll show you around this little beach town I live in. Cheers! RC Johnston.

  14. cool! still enjoying the album very very much.

  15. i agree on skip james. i guess im not the biggest fan of the minor tuning he so often used. some tracks i like, but he does not "get to me" as much as for example those you mentioned. Lately some of the most interesting bluesmen ive been listening to are people that were recorded during the 60s and 70s. Bill Williams, Frank Hovington are the top performers of that bunch. And also the Blind Brand X album inbetween those two!