Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Woke up this morning...

I've realized that there's something about the end of a teaching semester that drives me to the blues. This is the second time that it's happened. Except this semester was worse, and so I guess I'm deeper in.

It started with an evening with Rory Block. I'd never seen her before, and hadn't really paid too much attention to her music as well (except when she appeared on duet tracks). So I had no idea that her trip in life is to recreate the music of Robert Johnson - note for note, if she can. "This is classical music," she said to the appreciative audience. "Amen, sister," someone said back. A solo evening with one amazingly talented musician singing and playing some beautful hard-edged acoustic blues laced with songs of sadness, loss, redemption, and hope. Healing.

That reminded me of Eric Bibb. I had, after all, seen him at the same venue back in April. The guy's touring in New Zealand right now - lucky buggers. (Not only do they get summer and a test series against the West Indies...) So there was nothing left to do but hit the CD store. Turned out they didn't have *any* Bibb disc that featured Needed Time. So then I had to hit Amazon. Pulled in three aces at one go -- Friends, An Evening with Eric Bibb (live in Sydney - he really does love them down there), and Sisters and Brothers (with Maria Muldaur... and Rory Block!) Each of these is an absolute gem -- I cannot recommend them highly enough.

And for good measure I also netted the latest Jeff Beck live album -- smoking!!

And then, for good measure, yesterday afternoon (after a very satisying meal featuring Hungarian pancakes, pierogi, and paprikash, so no blues there), TPB and I went and filled our eyeballs and eardrums up with Cadillac Records. Sure, it's a simplified, airbrushed, feel-goody, Hollywood characterization of the birth of the electric blues. But by golly it's good. Excellent performances all round - from Adrien Brody as Len Chess and Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, the two main characters, as well as blow-out supporting roles by Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Beyonce Knowles as Etta James, and, probably the most nuanced and compelling, Columbus Short as Little Walter. And the music! Oh the music. Some of the early Muddy Waters stuff was brilliant, the part where Willie Dixon introduces the riff for Hoochie Coochie Man made shovers go down my spine, and Beyonce's rendition of I'd Rather Go Blind was simply transcendental. A downright rocking, mean, bad, dirty, old time, all in all, and the old lady cackling her head off and talking back to the actors from a few rows behind me only made it seem all the more authentic.

I believe I'll dust my broom.


Blogger Rahul Siddharthan said...

For some reason, the line
her trip in life is to recreate the music of Robert Johnson - note for note, if she can
reminded me of Borges' story "Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote"...

My current end-of-semester kick is Bach's violin sonatas and partitas played on 8-string guitar by Paul Galbraith -- astounding stuff. Will blog about it sometime.

12/15/2008 2:13 AM  
Blogger km said...

Ain't no semesters ending for me, but "Last fair deal goin' down" is the saddest blues song. Ever.

So this woman wants to recreate just RJ's music?

//I simply must catch "Cadillac Records". Esp. because I made at least 4 people go watch it :)

12/16/2008 12:27 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

more detail, please?

yup, note for note if possible.

12/17/2008 7:23 AM  
Blogger Rahul Siddharthan said...

Borges? The story is here.

Galbraith? He plays a custom-made 8-string guitar with an additional bass B and treble A string (so the middle 6 strings have the usual tuning). In addition he holds it vertically, like a cello, and it has a pin (like a cello) that sits either on the ground or on a resonating soundbox. The pieces themselves are his own transcriptions, faithful to the violin works, with help from other sources, eg Bach's own transcription of Partita 3 and the fugue of sonata 1 for lute, or Brahms' transcription of the Chaconne for piano left hand. The playing is very correct and the counterpoint emerges perfectly. Some pieces are taken faster than normal, some (especially the Chaconne) much slower than normal. There is little variation of tempo (rubato) and not much dynamics within pieces, but that, in my opinion, is fine for Bach. More on my own blog eventually...

12/17/2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...


12/19/2008 7:54 AM  

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