January 10, 2011

William Ackerman - Mesa Amphitheater, June 24, 1986

Here's another re-post from the lost drop.io files...

Ok you hard-core American Primitivists, bring it on.  I know you want to laugh out loud, point and make fun of me for listening to Will Ackerman. 
That's cool, I don't hide it anymore.  I've made my argument for Ackerman and his work.
Though I do have a few more thoughts and a story about why New Age music has always taken such a hit, and it's too bad 'cause some (most) of these artists are really very accomplished musicians.  I don't feel like going through the list but if you were to look at the early Windham Hill catalog and do a 'where are they now' bit of research you might be surprised at how many are still in the biz and doing things like composing movie soundtracks.  Now that ain't 'point and laugh' material.
Ok, so I used to work at a record store (remember those?), and it was the height of the Windham Hill era.  I worked with a guy that was a hard-core jazz drummer, he played 5-6 nights a week with a well respected local that is still going strong these days.  Jim used to get very annoyed about the whole New Age music craze.  And he had good reason.  People would come in and browse through the New Age section and ask for advice on what to buy, usually defining their "musical" parameters of taste by telling us that they wanted something to play in the background.   Often even saying that they didn't really want to listen to it, it needed to be unobtrusive.
Of course as a musician, Jim thought this was just plain stupid.  Why would anyone buy music they didn't want to listen to?  To pay attention to?  Why would any musician want to be thought of that way?  Ouch.  Much to my annoyance, Jim would occasionally suggest that the customer buy a fan if they just wanted background noise. 
Unfortunately a lot of mellow music ends up in the background and the artistry is lost. 
Ok, on to the set at hand.  I think this boot has been around a long time but if you haven't heard it I recommend it.  It's a fairly short set and Ackerman does a lot of chatting between songs that is interesting.  This is just the Ackerman part of a larger concert of Windham Hill folks.  It's an old boot with some noise and over-saturation, not perfect.

Windham Hill-The Summer Concert
William Ackerman, Michael Hedges, Shadowfax
Mesa Amphitheater, Mesa, Arizona
June 24, 1986 Master Tape to CD Version
Transfer Date:
March 2009

1. Processional
2. Anne's Song
3. The Rediscovery of Big Bug Creek Arizona
4. Hawk Circle W/ Hedges
5. The Impending Death of the Virgin Spirit
6. Visiting w/Greenburg of Shadowfax

d/l Will Ackerman


  1. Thanks for the Ackerman post. I look forward to hearing it. It is interesting that Ackerman gets slammed by the American Primitivists, especially his early recordings. I have a copy of a letter that John Fahey wrote to a friend of mine in the early 1980's where he speaks fondly of Ackerman and his music. No joke! IMHO Ackerman's earliest recordings stand the test of time, although things got repetitive rather quickly.

    I appreciate all your posts! Cheers!

  2. Thanks for the kind words!
    I am also a fan of mostly his early stuff.
    BTW, Ackerman mentions Fahey in his intro to Big Bug Creek, rather an amusing story.

  3. Aaaaarghhhh-

    Ok, I'll download it, thanks!

    PS I like Pierre Bensusan too.

  4. Hiowdy...slam William Ackerman if you will, but to me, his first album (Turtles Navel) is a melodic triumph! I still get tears in my eyes listening to this work of art!...and for me, that's what it's all about...MELODY!!!...Will Ackerman has the technique to pull it off...and the melodies to prove it! I've said it before...
    I don't give two shits about all the fancy hi-falutin' gimcrackery tricks and speed that guitarists seem to think they need to impress the pea-brained members of the current listening public. If that's what it has come down to to attract an audience, then pardon me for saying...
    don't call me and I won't call you...Cheers! Blind Brand X.

  5. Slammin nobody, and nohow. That ain't Blind Boy X, by the way. I knew him back in '33, and I saw him slowly shrivel up and die due to cumulative consumption and inexorable indifference round about the time Saturday Night Fever came out. You don't know how that Stayin' Alive scene hit him. Hard Bubba, hard. That was my Stelle that topped his pine box. Yea, he wudn't that big.
    Naw, that's Ol' Will Ackerman doin' a Blind BX imitation. I'm as sure of it as I am of the mole on my...
    Well, I ain't gonna sing the Star Spangled Banner, so don't scatter on me. Fire's out, y'all. Chill, Mama. And kids, put down the cordless phones and the pepper spray--false alarm.
    Anyway, I do love everthing DeltaSlider posts, including those ol' Blind Boy 78s.
    Good stuff y'all. Mr. Fahee's smilin', albeit in his consciously cantankerous manner. We do love that good open tuning access to the vision. That vision just may prevail in the darkness.

  6. i guess his stuff ain't too bad, but the production of his records is to smoothly done. i got to check out his early work yet, maybe it gets a little more raw there.
    anyways i added you to my blog slider, see you there.

  7. Hiowdy y'all...Blind Brand X here...with hat in hand I most humbly apologize for my abysmally poor choice of words in my last posted comments.
    I'm just not a fan of the 200 note a second style
    of guitar playing, but that does not give me the right to knock folks who are. My love of simple techniques has taken me nearly a lifetime to acquire, and I realize now that I should just keep those kind of thoughts to myself. Everyone out there enjoys this beautiful gift called music in their own way, and I apologize profusely
    for my critical, foot in mouth approach. Cheers!
    Blind Brand X.

  8. Hey Blind Brand X, we all have a right to our opinions! No worries there, everyone enjoys different kinds of music, I take a lot of crap for the music I like and I just give it right back.
    So don't you worry brother, you just keep pickin!

  9. William Ackerman wrote some excellent steel string guitar compositions. I know nothing of him as a person or businessman. I knew John Fahey fairly well. On a visit to him in 1998, I got him to admit how good some of Ackerman's work is. Sometimes you just had to stand up to Fahey's opinions, even though his opinions were typically interesting, considered, and well-founded. But not always; he was very subjective above all else, and that made him great.
    There are so many ways to play the guitar well, and I think Ackerman demonstrated outstanding phrasing and control of the instrument in those 80s recordings. He was uneven in the quality of his compositions; aren't we all.

  10. Hey Charlie, glad to see that you’ve stopped by. And thanks for adding to the content, I appreciate your perspective about Ackerman’s work.
    So when is your next CD due? :)

  11. Thanks Delta Slider, you've got a great site here. Re my next CD it's an open question. I have a piece influenced by Desperate Man Blues. My version is in G minor tuning, though the piece begins with the bridge in a major key, then descends into a devastating blues riff in a minor key. It sounds awesome with the pipe organ accompaniment. I have several other newish compositions that are quite a bit closer to the Fahey feel, closer to my roots than what I did on Xanthe Terra, my debut, wherein thru a herculean effort I limited the album to only one Fahey cover, the rest being as original as I could possibly get it.
    Getting a record label to pay attention to you however is no small task. So as I said, my next CD is an open question, and one needs connections. It's very difficult to be austere aloof and mysterious and at the same time get a label to listen to you... I'm keepin the day job in the meantime...

  12. Yeah, too bad I don't have any of those connections, (sigh) but I'm just a guy with a computer plugged into the internet.
    Have you considered the self-release option?
    Maybe Ackerman needs to start another label? Hmmm...

  13. Hiowdy y'all...are labels looking for artists anymore? Seems to me, if you're not a moneymaker, then you'll get dropped like a hot potato! Money be damned! All you pickers out there...take a chance and blow a few hundred bucks on producing your own project..I've done it and personally, it has been one of the most rewarding musical experiences I've ever had! My day job keeps the wolf from the door, and I'm in contact with a lot of great people who "get" what I'm doing. It's not about record sales or popularity...that stuff should have been left behind way back in high school...it's about the music and creativity and the sharing of that music with the rest of this music starved world! Don't be afraid to share your music with the world...we're all in this together, and as far as I'm concerned, the sooner the ugly walls of commercialism come crashing down the better...Cheers! Blind Brand X.

  14. Tut, tut. I have had very good experiences with record labels, such as with Fantasy Records who released my performances without asking. If that's commercialism, put me down for some more of that. Touche!
    But seriously, I admire you X for your willingness to share your songs, so more power to you. best regards....CS

  15. Hiowdy y'all!...commercialism...hmmm...I just HATE getting mixed up in the paperwork fooferaw that encompasses getting teamed up with a label..."humans" seem to need the documentation surrounding what they do, as if all the balderdash and attention is more important than the actual music itself...all I can say is...BULL! (to quote "Big Daddy" from "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof")...just play folks! Play your music as if your life depended on it! Ignore the rest...just have some real fun and don't worry for a minute about the commercial aspects of what you do! Most people don't understand what you do anyways...just remain true to the music...if you start thinking about ways of increasing your CD sales by doing this, that and the other, you've already lost the battle, and you'll be driven along with all the other sheep down the path to the commercial slaughterhouse where you'll be caged, force fed, slaughtered, bled and sold to the highest bidder! The world is filled with folks who have their asperations and dreams, but they are a dime a dozen because they imagine a world that revolves around them and their dreams...but it's just a dream...stay true to your music...even if it's only sitting on your couch playing for your dog...treasure those tiny moments instead of trying to conquer a world that only exists in your head...the world will turn on you in an instant...so...
    choose your dreams...carefully...Cheers! Blind Brand X.

  16. Fooferaw is necessary for musicians who are devoted to their art and who want to eat, or support a family.
    Or not. I did my Strange Attractors deal on a handshake; free licensing for broad distribution. Nobody told me what to record, or how to design the jacket, or what notes to write. It was a wonderful experience and I was extremely fortunate to have it.

  17. Thanks much for this!

    Any chance of getting the Michael Hedges part of this concert transferred at some point? He's been gone for a long time, but not forgotten.

    1. You are correct, he is not forgotten, I remember the first time I saw him live, amazing! I don't know if I have the rest of this show, I'll try to look it up but could be a bit, mighty busy these days.
      Cheers and thanks for stopping by the blog!