November 20, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Rare Cuts & Recollections

When I first heard SRV in 1983 I couldn’t believe my ears. Dominating the charts at the time were people like Michael Jackson, Men at Work, the Police, Hall & Oates and Prince. Hmmm…nothing bluesy about that. Although that isn’t really a fair way to look at it, I had yet to really discover a way to find music other than what was being played on the radio. So the fact that SRV was able to get on the charts in the Eighties was a stroke of luck for me. The Eighties would proceed even further downhill with chart toppers like Culture Club, Wham!, crappy Dire Straits and ZZ Top efforts and the eventual rise of the hair bands. Sometimes I think SRV and the music he opened up to me was all that kept me sane. Hyperbole, you say? Perhaps.
I became a huge fan and went to nearly every show in Colorado including his first tour through town at a great little venue known as the Rainbow Music Hall, that was Aug. 16th, 1983. The show cost me $5.20. In all I saw SRV 9 times and I even got to meet him backstage at Red Rocks in 1989. They wouldn’t allow pictures but here is the autograph I got along with all my ticket stubs and the backstage pass.
I’ve also posted some of the t-shirts I collected over the years.

Sometime in early ’89 the record store I worked at got a new Columbia rep and I was on him from day one about Stevie. When is a new album coming out? When is he coming to town? Apparently he realized I was a pretty big fan and not only did he get me backstage but he got me this totally cool bright green SRV shirt to boot! Dig those double-pleated pockets! I think I could fit a laptop in each one. Ah well, the embroidered SRV is pretty cool.

In October of 1990 I got to meet Jimmie Vaughan at an industry convention in Dallas. It was a mere months after the death of Stevie and he had been scheduled to play for us. Instead, Jimmie got up there and gave a eulogy of sorts and showed the debut of the video of Tick-Tock from the Family Style release. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Jimmie was kind enough to sign an autograph for me later that day.

The 2007 release of Solos Sessions & Encores has made many of these available, but there are still a few missing. Fortunately I have some of them on vinyl. I’ve also included a couple that are still available but that the average SRV fan may not be aware of and that were not included on the Solos Sessions & Encores release. There are some other appearances by SRV with unlikely artists such as Don Johnson, Teena Marie, Stevie Wonder and James Brown. Most of these are available or despite Stevie’s work are too painful to listen to so are not included here.
Solos, Sessions & Encores, Cut 3 is “Don't Stop by the Creek, Son” w/ Johnny Copeland from the 1983 Texas Twister, (now out of print). But SRV was also a guest on “When the Rain Starts Fallin'” a cut that is not included on the Rounder re-release of 1990. So I have included it here.

Cut 4 is Miami Strut, an instrumental with A.C. Reed from 1987’s  I’m in the Wrong Business. Stevie lent a hand on two more cuts, “I Can’t Go On This Way” and “These Blues Is Killing Me”. Again, included here.
Cut 5 is Na-Na-Ne-Na-Ney from Bill Carter’s Loaded Dice, 1988. This one must have got by me back in the day. I don’t recall ever hearing about it so I do not have it, nor can I find it. If anyone out there has it let me know.
After that there is some unreleased and or live stuff, followed by one cut from the David Bowie release.
Anyone ever notice Bowie “playing” the guitar solo in the video of Let’s Dance? With a pair of white gloves on… It’s just a video, I know, but to insinuate that he is playing those tasty licks? Lame.
Ok, a few more things to add.

In 1985 Blue Note released Twilight Time by Bennie Wallace. SRV on a Blue Note jazz release, amazing the recognition he was getting, he was on top of the world and everyone wanted Stevie to play a solo on their record. On an album full of guests including Dr. John, Stevie made two appearances, “All Night Dance” and “Trouble in Mind”. This one is out of print.

Distant Drums by Brian Slawson (1988) has got to be one of the more unlikely musical hookups a blues guy like Stevie could have made. This is a very cool piece. Be sure to check out the pictures of SRV & Slawson here.

Famous Blue Raincoat by Jennifer Warnes, (1986) is another rather unlikely meeting of the minds, but I think it worked well. Stevie plays some nice tasty licks on this one. I actually own the 45 rpm single of this one.

Get the music HERE
Hope you enjoy.

November 18, 2010

Tompkins Square Label 5th Anniversary Sampler

Hey folks, Other Music Digital Music is offering a free sampler download from the Tompkins Square label. 

From the site:

It's a fine, fine label, and we're excited to be marking their 5-year anniversary with this FREE, Other Music-curated download sampler, featuring 12 of our favorite songs from their great catalogue. Additionally, for the next two weeks we are offering every Tompkins Square album on Other Music Digital for the very low price of $5.99.


November 16, 2010

Yair Yona - Official Bootleg #2

The second Official Bootleg release, features some tunes from the upcoming second album along with some old tunes and covers of Bert Jansch and John Fahey.

Recorded in Tel Aviv, October 20th 2010

released 15 November 2010

BUY Yair Yona from EMUSIC icon      

November 14, 2010

Arborea - Red Planet - Update, Almost There

Update - Hey folks, just wanted to let you know that the project is doing well and as of this writing is only a few hundred dollars from funding.  So if any of you fence- sittershave been meaning to throw a little support their way, now is the time.

Buck and Shanti Curan, the duo also known as Arborea have a Kickstarter project going on and I think you ought to check it out.

This project needs some funding to get off the ground. If you like their music, just visit the KICKSTARTER page to see how you can help. The project needs funding and there's a deadline.  Check it out!!! If the project doesn't fund, you owe nothing. 

Buck Curan most recently curated the Robbie Basho tribute release, We Are One, In The Sun.  If you haven't heard much Arborea, check out their cut from that release.

Blue Crystal Fire by Arborea

Keep up with news via their FaceBook page.

BUY Arborea from EMUSIC icon

November 11, 2010

JAMES BLACKSHAW St Leonard's Church 16th October 2010

10/10/07 with Eli Keszler and Black Forest/Black Sea (photo: Susanna Bolle

St Leonard's Church
16th October 2010

01. All Is Falling
02. Tuning
03. The Cloud Of Unknowing
04. Tuning
05. Past Has Not Passed
06. Talk and Tuning
07. Transient Life In Twilight

Download it HERE

Support the artist - buy the records - go to the shows

And the winner, BY A MILE, of the CD give away is rleaf2003 with his killer, hybrid poem-comment.  It deserves a reprint:

Roses are red, violets are blue
I hope I get this cd via you,
and if I do..
heres what I'll do:

I'll play it for me,
my daughter and wife
in my car and truck &
and for all of my life

Echoes of Thompkins
ringing down the street
coming from my headphones
as my feet touch concrete

Walking to the store
to buy IA4
I thought I had won,
but alas, I dreamed this folklore

So once again I support IA4,
but hope Santa/ or the postman
knocks on my door,
and says: Ryan you won :)

Nice one!  Dude, shoot me your addy and I'll drop the CD in the mail.

November 10, 2010

An Interview with Pat O'Connell

(Photo by Michael Lenzi)
All week Delta-Slider will be running interviews with artists from the Imaginational Anthem Vol 4 release.  Today we are talking to Pat O'Connell.
 Considering the critical acclaim that this series has garnered, how do you feel about being included in this 4th volume?
  It’s a thrill to be included on this. The comps are very well done. Actually, of the four, Vol. 4 is my favorite. Seems like there is more consistency between each track. In compilations, I prefer that to lots of variety. For example, on the previous comps, you go from 12-string guitar to banjo to lo-fi blues-to hi-fi jazz, long tracks, short ones, etc, etc. This volume sounds like 10 performances that are very aligned with each other.

Your compositions are very melodic. Do you think part of that comes from your background as a songwriter?
  Yes. For me, the melody is the thing that really conjures an emotion. When I used to write rock songs, the melody always came first and was more critical than the lyrics.

You've said that you don’t play the dissonant sounds that are in vogue right now among many solo guitarists. What is it about that that doesn’t appeal to you?
  I don’t think it is entirely because it doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, some of my favorite guitar music I listen to has plenty of dissonance. For example, John Fahey had that amazing ability to play something that is going along nice and pretty then he just slips in a blue note or a minor chord or something unexpected that is sort of twisted, but genius at the same time. I always try to achieve stuff like that but rarely succeed. I don’t know, when I start playing stuff that’s bluesy or discordant, it starts sounding to me like I’m playing outside of my skin or something. Like that’s not what I’m meant to do. It’s hard to explain.

You used to sing, why the transition to instrumental? Do you sing or perform any songs by some of your influences, for example the blues players?
  Me? Sing blues? I don’t think so. Simply put, I just don’t have a very good singing voice. When I used to sing in a band, the hardest part was just trying to sing in tune. Recording vocal tracks was a nightmare for me. I kind of faked my way through it and actually managed to come up with some decent stuff once in a while. Believe me, nothing moves me like hearing a great vocal performance, but I guess I finally just decided that it wasn’t worth the effort. I don’t think that had anything to do with starting to play instrumental guitar though. It was just a nice coincidence that I started to get into finger picking. Suddenly I could satisfy my urges to compose, without the roadblocks of vocals and lyrics.

Looking in from the outside, I see a guy that went from a 90's rock band to a solo guitar instrumentalist. How did you get from A to B? Or was that part of your playing always there?
  Like many others, it all started for me as a teenager with Rock and Roll and songs I heard on the radio. Then, as time passed I simply kept exploring, constantly checking out different music, of any genre really. Some stuck, some didn’t.
But when I found something I liked, I kept digging deeper, reading liner notes of albums and finding who influenced that artist then seeking out those influences and so on. Just soaking everything up like a sponge and developing my preferences. For example, you’re 16, just got your driver’s license, driving around and you hear a Tom Petty song on the radio and everything is great. Sounds familiar, right? Well, maybe you go to Kmart and buy a Tom Petty cassette and read in the liner notes how he was influenced by Bob Dylan. So you borrow a Dylan album from a friend, read the liner notes and he mentions Miles Davis or Leadbelly. You’ve never heard of either of these characters but the names sound cool so you wonder and keep searching, and on and on. This isn’t what happened with me but that’s the basic idea. Exploring. But to be more specific, you may recall there was this sudden buzz about Nick Drake maybe 10 or 15 years ago. So I checked him out and was quite blown away and bought the box set. His finger picking is incredible to me and it may have been what started me thinking about trying to focus on playing acoustic guitar. Once you start down that path it can keep you busy for a while. There are just countless artists to explore and the nice thing is it’s all relatively obscure. So when you discover something new you have that feeling like it’s your little secret.

I think you have mentioned to me that you like your solo guitar to be just that, solo. No overdubs, simple recording methods…can you comment on that?
  When it comes to finger picking acoustic guitar, to me, it’s just by design a solo form. Adding other instruments just distracts from the intimacy. From a composing standpoint, I like the idea that with just one instrument, you are very restricted. There’s only so much you can do. So the challenge (and the art) is to play something that moves a listener within those constraints. I’ve messed around with drones and banjo harmonies, harmonicas and other stuff but they usually seem arbitrary. Don’t get me wrong I love duets and small combos. But with the type of picking that I do, which is basically like a version of Travis-picking, solo is the only way that works, for my ears.

Do you think you will ever go back to playing in a band? Or: Do you think your solo playing will ever be anything more than solo? In others words, do you see yourself going down the road that so many of the new solo guitarists have gone down: adding percussion: synth, or whatever?
  I’m not very interested in adding percussion or synth for the reasons I mentioned in the previous question. As for other solo guitarists doing this, I haven’t heard an example of this yet that I’ve enjoyed. But hey I’m sure some folks dig it. So no, my solo playing will most likely be just me and a guitar. Will I go back to playing in a band? Absolutely. But I will most likely play bass guitar. That’s really what I’m more comfortable with. Been listening to a lot of 70’s funk and soul records lately. I’d like to find a band like that. Although Albuquerque is not exactly a hotbed for that sort of thing.

How does your rock background in rock affect your playing now? Or does it?
  Most pop and rock & roll songs are 2:50, have a little hook and have verses and choruses. If you break down most of my songs you’ll find that they are structured the same way.

Who's the most famous person in your cell or email?
  My Aunt. She’s famous for her tuna casserole.

If you could sit down and jam with any musician dead or alive. Who would it be?
  Grant Green

How did you learn to play your style?
  First, I just kept trying to learn how to play tunes off the records. Trying to copy tunes like Creole Belle, Freight Train, John Henry, Vastopol, stuff like that. Of course, nowadays, there are also so many instructional books and DVDs and tablature on the internet. I take advantage of those things as well. Anyway, as you become comfortable copying other people’s tunes it’s natural to start trying variations so you can play them your way. Then of course, you start trying to create your own tunes, but it’s really using all that stuff as a guide. I was finding that what I liked best was playing picking patterns as opposed to a looser more freestyle picking. I love when a pattern is developed then you just put slight variations in it to see what happens. Once you get it down, it doesn’t take a ton of dexterity, like for example playing a ragtime piece. It’s kind of easy, yet the hard part is arranging it into a good tune. Also, the open tunings are a big part of my style as well. Picking patterns work best for me in open tunings.

Is the 12 string guitar or a slide piece something we’ll ever hear from you? Or are you mainly interested in the 6 string?
  I enjoy playing slide and I’ve recorded a few tunes. So yes, that’s a good possibility. 12-string however is a different story. I’ve dabbled, but I just can’t get used to it. Also, I tend to change tunings a lot and the thought of tuning a 12-string does not sound appealing.

How did your musical career start?
  I only had a “career” in music for a few years back in the 90’s when I was with Number One Cup. It started when we signed our record deal and ended when we broke up.

In the arena of solo guitarists, who is an important player to you?
  The most important must be John Fahey. He pretty much sums up everything I like about solo guitar.

How important is Ray Kane’s work to you?
  Of the Slack Key players, he is probably my favorite. He leaves a lot of space between the notes and never tends to get too “sappy”, which some slack key guitarists are guilty of. Also, his tunes for me are easier to copy than other slack key players because they are relatively simple and there is such clarity in the picking. So I learned a lot from him.

It sounds like Hawaiian Slack Key style influences your compositions. Is that accurate?
  Absolutely. I love that stuff. It is to Hawaii what country blues is to the rural south. Sort of a homegrown folk style that gets passed down to each generation. If you listen to it a lot and then learn some of the tunes yourself, it can easily seep into your own compositions.

Future projects we should know about?
  I’m working on recording some traditional guitar tunes. Hopefully I’ll feel like assembling them and releasing something some day.

Be sure to check out Pat O'Connell on CDbaby
Pat is also on MySpace

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of IA4 on CD.  I'll pick the best one on Friday.

And don't forget that you can buy IA4 on vinyl, very limited edition and well priced.  Get it HERE
Probably much shinier than this old thing.

BUY Tompkins Square from EMUSIC icon

November 9, 2010

An Interview with Mike Fekete

All week Delta-Slider will be running interviews with artists from the Imaginational Anthem Vol 4 release.  Today we are talking to Mike Fekete.
When I met you on your last tour you mentioned having a strong opinion about guitars for solo guitar, would you like to expand on that? Maybe start by telling me what you play...
  I play a Taylor 312ce which I bought new in 2000, right around when I started playing solo guitar. It's been my main guitar since then. I think that what I was talking about when we met was about solo guitar records, not about guitars themselves.

I am curious about what attracted you to solo guitar.
  What I'm drawn to most is the idea of seeing how much can be expressed by one person within the constraint of one instrument.

You have some pretty long pieces, how much do you improvise during live performances? While recording?
  When I play live I like to connect pieces together and improvise the segues. As far as improvising within the actual compositions, I do change the amount of times I repeat certain ideas, but I rarely do anything like improvise a melody. I never improvise while recording.

You seem to go on tour regularly lately, is that something you enjoy?
  I like everything about it. It's always interesting to see how the music resonates differently based on the geography. Also, I'm a big fan of driving long distances alone, and touring with this kind of music provides many opportunities for that. The only hard part I can really think of is trying to talk about it without sounding cliché.

How is George Winston important to you?
  He has everything to do with me being a solo instrumentalist. It was his solo piano album, Plains, that first made me want to play solo instrumental music. He also produced and released--on his Dancing Cat label--the compilation, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters, which was the first guitar record to have a big impact on me. In addition, I recently found out that he was responsible for providing the previously unreleased first half of Fahey's, America, for the 1998 CD reissue--which is my favorite Fahey album and the most influential on me. He told me that he was going through a used record bin in Los Angeles and he came across a double LP in a blank sleeve and the only thing written on the label was "John Fahey" which was in what he recognized as John's own handwriting. It turned out to be the original test pressing of America, including the first half, which at that point nobody really knew existed. George has influenced my music in many different ways, and I've also gotten to know him personally a bit, and through that relationship have been inspired by his deep kindness and generosity.

Considering the critical acclaim that this series has garnered, how do you feel about being included in this 4th volume?
  I'm a big fan of the first three volumes, and of Tompkins Square in general, so it's a total honor. Also, I personally think this new volume is a solid addition to the series, and I'm very proud to have been a part of that.

Tell me about your connection to Pat O'Connell. Have you met other members of the compilation?
  I got in touch with Pat after hearing him on the Fahey tribute, Revenge of Blind Joe Death. We began communicating and discovered that we both grew up in Ohio, and literally right down the road from each other. The more I got into his music, the more I could see how much we come from the same place musically as well. What I'm drawn to most about Pat is his strong sense of melody. He currently lives in New Mexico, and I'm in Washington State, and we still haven't met in person--although I've enjoyed getting to know him via email. We've been trying to meet up in Ohio to do some shows, but we haven't been able to work it out yet. The only person on the compilation that I've actually met is Aaron Sheppard. I first met him at a show I was doing in Santa Cruz. I played with Sean Smith in San Francisco the night before and Sean had been raving about Aaron--so based on that I invited him to come up and play during the set break. His playing was so impressive that it turned into a long break. I invited him up after my second set as well. Afterward, he told me it was only the third time he had played in front of an audience. One thing I really love about Aaron's playing is how articulate the rhythm of his right hand is. Besides being a great guitarist, he is also one of the nicest people I've met. We did a show together down in Portland not too long ago, and I hope to do more performances with him in the future.

Future projects we should know about?
  I put out four EP's between 2001 and 2006 which were all limited release, and are currently unavailable. I'd like to make them available again, and that'll probably be my next release. Also, I have most of my next album written, and I'd like to have that out sometime in 2012. I like to sit with music for a quite a while before I record it.

Be sure to check out Mike Fekete on CDbaby
Mike is also on MySpace, and Facebook.

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of IA4 on CD.  I'll pick the best one on Friday.

And don't forget that you can buy IA4 on vinyl, very limited edition and well priced.  Get it HERE
Probably much shinier than this old thing.

BUY Tompkins Square from EMUSIC iconBUY Mike Fekete from EMUSIC icon

November 8, 2010

Imaginational Anthem Vol 4 - Tompkins Square

I think the most important function of a compilation CD is to introduce us to new artists. I’ve come to count on that in fact. I will often give a compilation a chance if there is one artist on it that I recognize, with the hope that the others will pan out.
IA4 does not disappoint. I’m already familiar with roughly half of the gentlemen on this release. But the other half are unknown to me or I’ve heard them mentioned around but haven’t hunted them down yet. So a compilation is always a great way to get me motivated to search out the new sounds presented to me.

This week Delta-Slider will feature interviews with three of the guitarists on the IA4 release, Aaron Sheppard, Pat O’Connell and Mike Fekete.

The excellent radio show, Sideways Through Sound will feature the IA4 release this week.  A happy coincidence.  It's an Australian show but it streams online and you can d/l the shows too, so check it out.

Here are some links to the artists of IA4
Chris Forsyth
William Tyler has this excellent release, The Paper Hats
Sam Moss has a lot of releases that you should be listening too!
Nick Jonah Davis has a fantastic release that appears to only be available on eMusic.
Pat O'Connell on CDbaby!
Tyler Ramsey
Micah Blue Smaldone will be touring with Cian Nugent soon! 
Mike Fekete on CDbaby!
Aaron Sheppard on MySpace
C Joynes on Myspace

Buy the CD at Tompkins Square, or get the vinyl while they last.

The interviews start tomorrow so stick around!

And one more thing,  leave a comment on this post or any of the posts this week for a chance to win a copy of the IA4 CD.  I'll pick the best comment on Friday.