Honky Tonk Roll-call

Found ourselves in Nashville for a long weekend again, both Friday and Saturday this time. Last time we were impressed by Heath Haynes on the Saturday night and they were pretty good again, if a little different atmosphere due to fewer fans packed into Layla’s Bluegrass Inn, and the distraction of Hallowe’en fancy dress. (Had to step out of the previous set, Brandon Giles was just toooo loud on keyboard and vocals for the small venue.)

Anyway, back to Heath Haynes Four-Ballers. Rich Gilbert excellent on guitar again, Aaron Oliva on the bass and the superb [fiddle] seen also with Dave Racine [skins] in Jesse Taylor’s band at the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee International BBQ Contest in Lynchburg, TN on the Saturday afternoon. Surreal – truly international with everything-but-the-beer-tent in the dry county that hosts Jack’s distillery.

Heath Haynes supplied Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues and an excellent version of Neil Young’s Helpless but no U2 or Blitzkrieg Bop this time. That same powerful version of G.L.O.R.I.A. segued onto The Stones Last Time and closed with Lust for Life.

Anyway on the Friday night we took in the late set in Robert’s Western World and were thoroughly entertained by Brazilbilly led eponymously by current club owner Jesse Lee Jones – more trad country mix, including some real vintage numbers, but quality musicians and entertainers to a man.

Working down from Legends Corner, 5th & Broadway, the whole block backs onto the Ryman Theatre erstwhile home of Grand Ole Opry and “mother church of country music” – worth a visit in itself, saw Joe Satriani there earlier in the year, and took the tour on this visit, where “Widespread Panic” were set up.

No.428 Legends Corner
No.422 Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
No.420 Second Fiddle
No.418 Layla’s Bluegrass Inn
No.416 Robert’s Western World
No.412 The Stage

Messin’ With The Kid

Just spent an emotional 2 hours solid watching and listening to You-Tube recordings of Rory Gallagher from 1968 right up until his last recorded appearances in 1994. Some rock stars achieve legendary status through their “lifestyle” death, but Rory was a legendary no-nonesense talent that sadly died on 14 June 1995.

Only saw him twice, Newcastle in ’73 and Hammersmith around ’78, but also have (had) five of his (vinyl) albums too, Blueprint, Tattoo, Against the Grain, Calling Card and Live in Europe. Mentioned seeing a tribute concert with Gary Cox on the anniversary of his death back in Perth, WA the year before last.

Funny after picking up on “Blister in the Sun” recently, to hear Rory playing “Blister on the Moon” back in his ’68/’69 Taste days – a title I’d forgotten. Anyway, thanks to hours of recordings available, lots from The Marquee, from Montreux Jazz and from RockPalast, not to mention Dublin, Belfast and Cork and the original Isle of Wight festival and several excellent renditions of “Shadow Play“, the old rocker will never die (1979 Montreux version – how much can one guitar make out of a 3 chord riff ?).

Apart from a Tele (or Super Tele ?) used for some slide work, the acoustic and a steel resonator for the trad acoustic blues numbers, the battered Strat seems to have accompanied him right from 1968 to the end, looking as battered in ’68 as it still did in ’94. Gerry McAvoy there on bass for 90% of it too. Good to see people like Slash, Johnny Marr, Bono and The Edge paying tribute on the documercial for this “Big Guns” greatest hits collection. If Rory is not someone you know, start there and check out the official web-site too.

The man who got me back into the blues.
Eric Clapton

Nothing is Quite What it Seems

Excellent example of In Our Time yesterday. A discussion on “The Arabian Nights“; not an earth shatteringly significant subject you might think, and you might be right about the subject, though (like the programme makers it seems) I had expected some material I could link to “Anecdote” and the power of story telling – is there a more archetypical example ? But, the process of analyzing it academically and culturally was the real subject – the meta-subject of the show – and shows how little we really know. Melvyn Bragg’s own post-programme notes summarise that beautifully.

The programme this morning ought, on the surface, to have been a swish ride to the new worlds which percolated into Europe in the Middle Ages – Chaucer, Boccaccio – and then came in full flood with the translation of the 1001 Arabian Nights.

Instead what we ran into, I thought, was a most interesting example of scholarship. The fact seems to be (fact is a tough word in this context) that the origins of The Arabian Nights are genuinely obscure. Did they start in India?  What influence did Persia have  on them?  Did the Mamelukes take over?  What about other tales, nothing to do with The Arabian Nights, that were added?  Was the Scheherazade an authoring or a holding operation?

Gerard van Gelder was impish and wonderfully scholarly about this. -He seems to be a man who, apart from his great authority in the area, adores to surf among the footnotes.  This is indisputably charming, but when you are trying to push through a structure which seems to make sense on the page, it is a little tense.  His darting hither and yon meant that at one stage I thought we’d reached the end of the programme before we were halfway through!  On the other hand, his contribution was delightful.  He seems to me to be an academic totally untarnished by the media.  He doesn’t listen to anything that talks on the radio, he told me.  Music on Radio 3 is about the limit.

We had with us Robert Irwin, who is acknowledged as a world authority on The Arabian Nights which he demonstrated with an opening that was so masterly that I thought we were in for a fistful of gold medals.  We nearly were but the bug was the origin.  Ideas that I had garnered from the notes seemed too blunt an instrument from time to time.  We were in an area of nuance, speculation, counter-intuitiveness, all the delights of high scholarship.  Marina Warner sailed majestically to the rescue with her clarity and concluded for us, with perfect timing, on the story she liked best. It did feel a bit like a magic carpet trip.

Listening to vanGelder’s thought processes “surfing through the footnotes” as Melvyn put it, put me in mind of a previous quote about digression and the power of the discursive mind …. which I can’t quite place at the moment.