Thursday, March 12, 2009

#27: Big Wind - Harmonica & The Deep Moan Tone

Playlist for Sunday March 15, 2009
hosted by Greg Denton with guest Kyle Fitzsimmons


1. Wake Up Jacob - Prince Albert Hunt & His Texas Ramblers

2. Fattening Frogs For Snakes - Sonny Boy Williamson
3. Juke - Little Walter
4. High Compression - James Cotton
5. Big Wind - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
6. Big Road Blues - Thom Roberts & Carlos Del Junco

7. Sylvie - C.R. Avery
Guelph audiences may be aquainted with C.R. Avery from his stint backing the slam poetry duo T.O.F.U. who were a sensation at the Hillside Festival a few years ago, or from his ecstatic performances at the Carden Street Cafe over the past couple of years (one with his string quartet that felt as much like a stadium show frenzy, with Sprinsteen-like energy, as a small restaurant performance). An extradordinarily communicative and charismatic performer combining spoken-word with grade-A musical chops, C.R. Avery has been touring with and receiving glowing endorsements from folks like Tom Waits, Utah Phillips, Billy Bragg & Charlie Musselwaite. Cut and pasted from C.R.'s website "bye-oh" here's what he has to say about his unique harmonica style: "I started honing my harmonica playing by mimicking James Cotton's phrases, Jimmy Reed's high tone, and Sonny Terry's locomotive and country hoots. Little Walter was the poet, had the song craft and band leader instinct to go with the harp. But Sonny Boy Williamson's "Dont Let Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Hand's Doin'" was what I wanted to grasp. He and John Mayall solo, unaccompanied, armed only with the harp, growls, finger snap, whispered cadence and foot stomp, had me listening over and over. One hand on the ten-holed tit, the other hand's fingers on the stereo clit, trying to get the deep moan tone."

8. Five Planets In Harmonica Convergence - Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues
Roosevelt University trained musicians Corky Siegel and Jim Schwall (Siegel/Schwall Blues Band) were an important part of the 1960s young blues revivalists along with the likes of Paul Butterfield and John Mayall. Based out of South-Side Chicago they were the house band at Pepper's Lounge for an extended period with just about every important Chicago blues musician around sitting in with them on a regular basis (such as Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Billy Boy Arnold, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Otis Spann, Bo Diddley, Lazy Lester and Sam Lay, to name a few). Recording for Vanguard from 1966 - 1974 (signed by Sam Charters), they also had the distinction of being the first ever blues band to perform with a symphony orchestra (The San Francisco Symphony conducted by Seiji Ozawa - A recorded version of "Three Pieces For Blues Band And Orhestra" was released by Polydor records in 1973). After Siegel/Schwall disbanded in 1974, Corky Siegal undertook a few projects, Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues among them - an ensemble that included string quartet, tabla drums, piano & featured harmonica.

9. Cash On The Barrelhead - Mike Stevens & Raymond McLain
10. In The Pines - Mike Stevens & Raymond McLain
11. Canada Day - The Mike Stevens Project

12. Just Like A Woman - Bob Dylan
Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, May 17, 1966 - The famous recording from Bob Dylan's 'gone-electric' tour, originally (and wrongly) bootlegged as the "Royal Albert Hall" concert. The first half of each concert in this tour opened with an acoustic solo set accepted reverently by a closely attentive audience. The second electric band set gets all the historic attention with the famous booing and stomping disruptions and someone yelling "Judas!" at Dylan from the audience along with Dylan's own antics, intransigence, and audible instructions to the band to "play it fuckin' loud!" as they kicked off Like a Rolling Stone. But the first set is remarkable in itself - incredibly delicate, fluid, beautiful and entrancing - and, I suppose, gives some sense of what his acoustic devotees may have felt they were losing on at least the aesthetic level (though much of the protest had as much to do with a perception that Dylan was abdicating his political and social responsibilities). Just Like A Woman was the second last song of the opening acoustic set that night, and though there is varied opinion about the merits of Dylan's harmonica prowess, this song ends with a gorgeous, narrowly drawn, melodic swirl of a solo that should at least give some naysayers a moment of considerable pause.

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