February 28, 2015

John Fahey Guitar Tabs

Son House

City of Refuge

Charles A Lee: In Memoriam

Thanks to Malcolm for these!!

Fahey's Dance of Death Outtakes

Outtakes, fragments, unreleased songs. John Fahey recorded a whole host of material over the course of a couple days. Stephen of the John Fahey blog originally uploaded lots of Fahey outtakes and unissued material. This upload was hosted on his blog up until around 2007-2008. All of this content has since shown up on blogs across the internet. But these sessions are the one thing that has not been re-uploaded. Aside from tagging the MP3s with proper titles, I present it here as is.

It seems with the advent of Spotify and the ability for content owners to throw together compilations, a lot of random outtakes and unissued studio material has shown up, labeled as “Best Of” comps and the like. It is a heap of a mess, but if you search through there, you can find many gems.

The full, unreleased song, “TV Rag” aka “The Television Rag”, is one cut that has not shown up in those comps referenced above. The only place it has since existed was on Stephen’s blog. Fahey taught Ragtime Ralph, aka Ralph Johnson, aka Blind Brand X, the “TV Rag” when Ralph hosted a show of John’s in the 80s. Ralph’s great version appeared on his release “Volume 4”.

John Fahey - The Dance of Death Outtakes
Silver Spring, Maryland (1965)
Download it HERE
Thanks to Rag Lore for these and for the text!

the Zabriskie Point tapes

Well, well, what do we have here? According to Fahey in "How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life"  this experience made him a lot of money, but he didn't have any fun.

Here's some interesting musical trivia sourced from the IMDB page.

"Fingals Cave", a piano piece composed by Richard Wright of Pink Floyd for the 'violent scene' went unused, but was later reworked by the band as "Us and Them" on their album "Dark Side of the Moon". In its original form it has featured on various bootleg albums.

Remembering the scoring sessions for this film, members of Pink Floyd later commented that Michelangelo Antonioni was very difficult to please, offering vague comments like (quoting the bandmembers, mimicking Michelangelo Antonioni's accent) "Eets nice, but too slow" or "Eets a leetle bit too soft."

Antonioni met with Jim Morrison during early production to ask for a musical contribution to the soundtrack. Morrison and the Doors provided "L'America" which Antonioni then rejected.

Download part I HERE

Download part II HERE

February 27, 2015

John Fahey - Dance of the Inhabitants...Live @ U of Washington by Steve Palmer

Often the oeuvre of John Fahey is discussed in the context of the
blues, followed by an oblique mention of his influence on acts like
Sonic Youth and his spiritual alignment with minimalist composers.
Generally his influence on these acts is credited to his iconoclastic
and DIY persona. Less mentioned is his direct musical influence on the
experimental acts of today. Fahey was, at times, a drone artist- and
this fantastic, mysterious take of “Dance of the Inhabitants”
illustrates why he continues to remain relevant in experimental

Fahey bookends this piece with familiar blues references as his slide
meanders through pentatonic riffage, but midway he fully embraces
microtonality and dissonance. This creates a conflict between the
earthy and the ethereal- a conflict that colors much of his best
music. Often it ceases sounding like a guitar at all. This is cosmic

The resonance of the concert hall is to thank for much of the
immensity here, making this particular recording less akin to Bukka
White and more similar to Charlemagne Palestine's "Strumming Music" or
some of the more celestial and percussion-free Glenn Branca pieces.
Here you can hear Fahey not only play the guitar, but simultaneously
play the room and the air- summoning throughout the same overtones of
the drone greats.

The rapturous audience at the University of Washington were lucky to
play aural witness to this private and meditative moment, as are we
some 40 years later. This bootleg is among my top five favorite Fahey
moments (including his studio work) and I believe it stands out as
unique in his discography, bringing further into focus this remark of
Jim O'Rourke from Steve Lowenthal's recently released “Dance of Death”

“Fahey isn't an Americana thing for me [...] I didn't think of him in
the context of Bukka White- I didn't give a shit about that stuff,

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, find a private place, and enjoy! Give it
space to sink in. Happy Fahey week.

Steve Palmer performs guitar in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN and released his debut 'Unblinking Sun' on Dying For Bad Music in 2014.

February 25, 2015

Tom Weller - Artist for the Fahey album Covers

You can visit Weller's site HERE and read some of his out-of-print books including Science Made Stupid that won the 1986 World Science Fiction Society's Hugo award for Best non-Fiction Book.

Weller was the artist for many of the early Fahey covers. Weller had his psychedelic phase and then his wood cut phase. I prefer the wood cut covers. He also designed that Takoma "T" logo with the arrows.


February 24, 2015


A Fahey fan answered the call for a little help around here for Fahey Week, with a brief remembrance for our consideration.

It was probably in the 1970s when I found my treasured copy of the original "JOHN FAHEY/BLIND JOE DEATH" album at a long defunct record store in Glendale, California called Ray Avery's Rare Records.  The record was in the same bin as John's other albums that were commonly available at that time.  The price was comparable to the other albums, so I don't think the owner was aware of the album's scarcity.  I tried my best to conceal my excitement as I went up to the counter to pay for the album.

The opportunity to have John autograph the album came when he performed one of his many concerts at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California.  After John finished his set, he retreated to Takoma Records which was a few doors up the street on Pico Boulevard.  The person who ran the McCabe's concert series back then, Bobby Kimmel, took me there to meet John.  I still vividly remember John's reaction when I pulled the album out of the bag for him to sign.  After turning the album over a couple times in his hands to examine it, he said laconically,"Holy shit".  After signing the "FAHEY" side, he flipped the cover over and signed the "DEATH" side.  As he handed it back to me, he said, "I signed it Blind X because he's blind and can't see".  Rest in peace, John.....thanks for making my evening and for being an inspiration to me.


February 23, 2015

John Fahey and the Williams Brothers

John Fahey became friends with the Williams brothers who lived on Sligo Mill Road in Takoma Park. Elmer and Harold were born in 1925 & 1924, respectively. In 1966 Fahey was considering issuing an album of the Williams Brothers. (Sourced from "The John Fahey Handbook" by Claudio Guerrieri)

You can read about Fahey meeting and hanging out with Elmer Williams in "How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life" starting at page 267.

Check out the D.K. Wilgus Collection at the Ethnomusicology Department of UCLA (http://digital2.library.ucla.edu/) has various unreleased Fahey material including a tape with the Williams Brothers, as mentioned in the DOD discographical notes recorded by Richard Spottswood.

From the Dance of Death liner notes:

...early 1959 Spotswood's ancestral home, Westmoreland Hills, Md.
John - g=1, Elmer - g=2, voc. & g=3, Harold - voc. & g =4
On Doing An Evil Deed Blues - 1 Railroad Bill - 3,1
Buckstonk Blues - 1 Easy Ridin Buggy - 3,1
Brenda's Blues - 1 One by One - 3,1
John Henry - 2,1 If You Feel Like Your In Love
Blues in E - 2,1 Don't Just Stand There 3,1
Blues in C - 2,1 Tell Me Who's Been Fooling You - 4
Add vocals by Elmer, Harold and Kelly at various times
Rock Is My Pillow
The War is Over
So far as I can determine, these are the only known recordings by the Williams Brothers and Kelly. Their home was once located on New Hampshire Ave just beyond the DC line, presently the site of either a Safeway or a highway. By wise and judicious placement of modern highways, the local governments of suburban Maryland have increased property values by simultaneously creating easy access for modern transportation and by ridding the countryside of unsightly negro and poor white shacks. As a result of this policy there seem to be no negroes or farmers left in the lower half of Montgomery county. The suicide rate is rising. -

These are incomplete and some cut off in the middle, too bad, pretty good stuff.

Thanks to JohnFahey.com for the Dance of Death liner notes and Malcolm Kirton and Richard Swan for pointing these out to me.

Access the material here:

In addition you should find some other interesting material, the Rev. Rubin Lacey with Fahey on guitar, interviews with Blind Johnnie Williams and Rev. Ishmon Bracey.

February 22, 2015

A Poem & a Song by RC Johnston

The Screaming Turtle
                        by RC Johnston

I heard a turtle screaming
Inside its tarnished shell
Sounds of bombs and gunfire
From the bottom of a well
It did not sound like music
More like inner agony
Which, is itself, like music
Mixed with reality

I heard a turtle screaming
A most unearthly wail
Those sounds, they echoed in my ears
My heart and breath did fail
But yet, they were familiar
'Twas like I knew them too
The screaming of that turtle
Did chill me through and through

I heard a turtle screaming
Beneath the sunbaked ground
A quiet hillside bathed in warmth
With bronze plaques all around
Each grave held a spirit
That shared a tale or two
And, the screaming of that turtle
Was the soundtrack to that view

Composed on what would have been John's 74th birthday, February 28, 2013...

I visited John's grave the day after I played at Lightbar, in Portland, Oregon, September 19, 2013...I had Dix with me and I played "Death of the Clayton Peacock" while sitting at John's grave...Cheers!!! Ralph.

Ralph also recorded a new song this week. Inspired by his recollections of this visit he brings us "A Tearful Stephen King Carries the Body of the Late, Great Clayton Peacock To a Pet Sematary Just Down the Road" It's a cool lo-fi recording: to listen click HERE or to d/l it just right click and select 'save link as...'.

Ralph says the tuning is D-A-A-D-A-C
"I play it with my bone slide on my little finger, but it can also be played lapstyle, as I fret no notes with my fingers..."

February 7, 2015

Brook Zern on Flamenco - WFMU show from 2004

Here's a really fantastic show, and a long one at that, from that flagship of radio cool. This is probably a good show if you know just a bit about Flamenco and want to learn more, and a really great show if you do know something about the music. All kinds of musical examples are played with plenty of pre-Paco de Lucia for you roots focused people. Brook talks about music theory, the song forms of Flamenco, murky origins of Flamenco, links to American Blues and Spanish music.
Also some interesting discussion of the origins of solo guitar in Flamenco, Sabicas and the like could not do the solo guitar thing in Spain, but in America it was accepted.


Visit Brook Zern HERE

February 1, 2015

Kyle Fosburgh - Collection

During this past Holiday season, Fosburgh released three new digital singles on Grass-Tops and offered them all on iTunes as part of a larger 'Collection' of music, which includes two of his recent digital EPs. Together, there are 14 tracks total, comprising of vocal and instrumental material, as well as original and traditional compositions ... a summation of his solo career to date.

Buy on iTunes

His fourth full length album (and first vinyl release) is slated for May, 2015