I had the opportunity to see David Lindley perform last weekend through a very nice invitation by a couple of friends. Lindley was eccentric, brought a wide variety of string instruments with him and is immensely talented. He seemed to be upset that the 1960s ended, but also appeared to have adjusted quite well to the new millennium.
As the first paragraph of his AllMusic profile suggests, Lindley certainly comes out well if he is judged by the company he keeps:
David Lindley is the consummate musician’s musician. A much-respected session player, Lindley has added his melodic string playing to albums by a lengthy list of artists, including Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Rory Block, Ry Cooder, Warren Zevon, Terry Reid, David Blue, James Taylor, David Crosby, and Graham Nash. From 1971 until 1981, Lindley played a guiding role on Jackson Browne’s recordings and concert performances. Lindley’s eclectic approach provided the foundation for his own bands, Kaleidoscope (1967 — 1970) and El Rayo X (1981 — 1990). (Continue Reading…)
One of the instruments he had with him was an oud, which is an antecedent of the lute. He also brought what looked like a rather bulky acoustic guitar. The bulkiness was due to the fact that the neck of the guitar wasn’t solid. Instead, the cavity in the body continued through the top of the neck.
Above is Mercury Blues, performed with Jackson Browne. (If you like car songs, check out Deuce and a Quarter, performed by Levon Helm, Keith Richards, Scotty Moore and other notables.) There are several very good and high quality videos from the same concert on YouTube, including Running on Empty and Take It Easy. I recommend them. Below is King of the Bed.by
Here is a rather odd line from Wikipedia’s bio of Leon Redbone:
According to the Toronto Star report in the 1980s, his birth name is Dickran Gobalian, he came to Canada from Cyprus in the mid-1960s and changed his name via Ontario, Change of Name Act. (Continue Reading…)
For some reason, it doesn’t seem surprising. I never really knew if Redbone was on the level. He is remarkably talented, but I never quite bought the shtick. But the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter.
Jon Niccum writes an engaging bio at Redbone’s site which, again unsurprisingly, doesn’t say anything about Redbone himself:
The careers of performers who reside in the limelight are usually short-lived and over-overexposed. So it’s refreshing to encounter Leon Redbone, who has for decades remained so musically resonant and personally elusive. Though his iconic guise of white fedora, jacket and sunglasses has been thoroughly satirized (anybody remember the “Leon Redbone workout” Far Side cartoon?), it’s easy to overlook what a genuinely gifted artist he remains – a role he inevitably tries to downplay.
“In some ways I’ve always been complacent in my approach to music,” Redbone says. “So in some ways maybe I’m the pure definition of consistent.”
At the core of his initial calling was the desire to simply honor songs from the past – a waltz with bygone days that established him as sole curator of the museum of 20th century music. Over the course of his 30+ year, 15+ album career, the bard has continued his love affair with tunes from the turn-of-the-century (as in the second-to-last century), flapper-era radio ditties, Depression-spawned ragtime and World War II folk-jazz. (Continue Reading…)
There isn’t a great deal of good video of Leon Redbone, but the 1991 clip from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson is excellent. Redbone performs Up a Lazy River and Mr. Jelly Roll Baker. The guy — whoever he really is — is very talented. Looking that relaxed and seeming to do so little as he does so much is unique. In a way, it’s reminiscent of Willie Nelson.
Check out the slide guitar player about halfway through the second song.by
This weekend was the fourth time that Sonny Landreth played at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival. His name can get lost amid the megastars that Clapton brings out. But it is no wonder that he gets invited.
Wikipedia gets uncharacteristically technical in its entry on Landreth:
Landreth is best known for his slide playing, having developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide while he plays. Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger, so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He’s also known for his right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand. He wears a special thumb pick/ flat pick hybrid on his thumb so he can bear down on a pick while simultaneously using his finger style technique for slide.
Sonny Landreth is known for his use of Fender Stratocaster guitars and Dumble Amplifiers. He is also known to use Demeter and Fender amplifiers on occasion. Landreth uses Jim Dunlop 215 heavy glass slides and Dunlop Herco flat thumb picks. His guitars are fitted with DiMarzio and Lindy Fralin pickups, a special Suhr back plate system, and D’Addario medium nickel wound strings gauges 0.13 – 0.56. (Continue Reading…)
About.com leads with the Clapton connection:
No less an authority than the legendary Eric Clapton has called slide guitarist Sonny Landreth “the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced.” During a career that has spanned four decades, Landreth has earned a well-deserved reputation as a gifted slide guitarist, whose unique playing style mixes traditional slide with the unconventional technique of fretting the strings behind the slide. Throw in Landreth’s songwriting skills, and you have an exciting and original artist whose work plumbs the depth of roots-rock and swamp-blues. (Continue Reading…)
Above is Zydeco Shuffle and below is Z Rider.by
Odetta was an influential singer in the 1960s folk/protest movement era. Here is how Wikipedia starts its profile:
Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008), known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to[by whom?] as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”. Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, she was influential to many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. Time included her song “Take This Hammer” on its list of the All-Time 100 Songs, stating that “Rosa Parks was her No. 1 fan, and Martin Luther King Jr. called her the queen of American folk music.” (Continue Reading…)
Above is This Little Light of Mine and below is Glory, Hallelujah.by
The great rock and blues guitarist died in February, 2011, according to This Day in Music. This is Parisenne Walkway. His site is here.by
Wikipedia’s entry on Robert Cray contains a very interesting piece of movie trivia:
By the age of twenty, Cray had seen his heroes Albert Collins, Freddie King and Muddy Waters in concert and decided to form his own band; they began playing college towns on the West Coast. In the late 1970s he lived in Eugene, Oregon, where he formed the Robert Cray Band and collaborated with Curtis Salgado in the Cray-Hawks. In the 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House, Cray was the uncredited bassist in the house party band Otis Day and the Knights. After several years of regional success, Cray was signed to Mercury Records in 1982. Two albums on HighTone Records in the mid-80s, Bad Influence and False Accusations, were moderately successful in the United States and in Europe, where he was building a reputation as a live artist. His fourth album release, Strong Persuader, produced by Dennis Walker, received a Grammy Award, while the crossover single ”Smokin’ Gun” gave him wider appeal and name recognition. (Continued Reading…)
Son House is unique, even among the old blues players. The song below – John the Revelator – is like watching history. Death Letter Blues is above.
Here is how his Wikipedia profile starts:
Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. (March 21, 1902 (?)  – October 19, 1988) near Clarksdale, Mississippi was an American blues singer and guitarist, noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.
After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher, and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25. He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom. In a short career interrupted by a spell in Parchman Farm penitentiary, he developed to the point that Charley Patton, the foremost blues artist of the Mississippi Delta region, invited him to share engagements, and to accompany him to a 1930 recording session for Paramount Records. (Continue Reading…)
Here is more on House, including a bit about the stay at Parchman — though it offers no details on the murder:
Born near Lyon, Mississippi, March 21, 1902, Son House chopped cotton as a teenager while developing a passion for the Baptist church. He delivered his first sermon at the age of fifteen and within five years was the pastor of a small country church south of Lyon. His fall from the church was a result of an affair with a woman ten years his senior, whom he followed home to Louisiana. By 1926, House had returned to the Lyon area and began playing guitar under the tutelage of an obscure local musician named James McCoy. He developed quickly as a guitarist; within a year he had fallen in with Delta musician Rube Lacy and began emulating his slide guitar style. House shot and killed a man during a house party near Lyon in 1928. He was sentenced to work on Parchman Farm, but was released within two years after a judge in Clarksdale re-examined the case. Having been advised by the judge to leave the Clarksdale vicinity, House relocated to Lula and there met bluesman Charley Patton while playing at the Lula railroad depot for tips. (Continue Reading…)