Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 47: Steve Guyger "Past Life Blues" & The Journey of Chris Strachwitz Sampler

Back to the blues again today. There was a brief respite from the constant flow of blues there for a while, but now a homeless CD has served up some more blues for the hard-drive. Just going to get right to it.

Steve Guyger
Past Life Blues
So I have no idea about this CD or even really how it got out of its case. I may have tried it out, I think I would break out every tenth blues CD and try and listen to it before moving on in favor of something weirder or more dynamic.

I was getting so many CDs that the ones that stood out were the ones that were essentially something I had never heard before. The wilder the CD the more likely I would end up listening to it. If it was at all what I expected I would keep digging. And so a lot of these admitidly fine blues CDs ended up buried. The blues, while many things, is rarely surprising.

Apparently he's a Philadelphia harp man who studied under Muddy Waters harmonica player  Paul Oscher.  This is kind of pure Chicago blues, really. Shuffle beats, electric guitars, early rock n' roll sound to it some of the time--especially in We Gonna Ride. We Gonna Ride is of course one of two back to back songs about getting a new car. The second the more direct My New Car. There's still time, perhaps Snake Oil will be about a new car as well...

Guyger uses that distorted harmonica sound with his band heavy on the reverb, giving his band a 'dirty' feel. It helps evoke that smoke filled dive with watered down whiskey.

Rib Shack Boogie is a straight boogie rhythm while Steve and someone else talk back and forth about how good a bar-b-que smells. And then, apparently their plan to head to a chicken shack afterward, interspersed with solos. I'm going to decide this is improvised. Or perhaps it was something they put together to pimp the rib shack they were playing at and they just got into doing it.

I crashed iTunes trying to use Ping and now I don't know where I was on the CD...

Monkey on a Limb almost doesn't fit. Gone is the distortion, the guitar comping is fairly jazzy, almost a bossa going on. I actually thought that the CD had ended and iTunes had moved on to the next one.

Various Artists
Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection: The Journey Of Chris Strachwitz 1960-2000 Sampler

It was entirely rare that we'd actually get box sets as promos. More often we'd get these sampler discs as promos for the larger box set. This one is a five CD box set for Arhoolie records themed around its founder and his journey looking for 'roots' music. As a result the music on here is pretty eclectic. So far we've traveled through blues, zydeco, and something in French. Now we're on to Mexican music. And now back into country blues, beat up guitar sounds like it was recorded on one mic country blues. Awesome.

I have a new favorite lyric, "If it was raining soup, I'd be caught with a fork peoples, tryin' to live in this mad mad atomic age." Another country blues, Lady Luck by Mercy Dee Walton.

This must be what it's like to be a booking agent for A Prairie Home Companion. Rose Maddox's folksy and humorous Single Girl would fit right in, as would all of this music.

I mentioned that this would be eclectic? We're on to Klezmer music. I'm constantly surprised at how much saxophone there is in klezmer music. I have no idea how that came to be. There's a Charlie Parker anecdote about him picking up a bar mitzvah gig while hanging out at Milton's that was portrayed in the movie Bird. I didn't really have any coming of age rituals growing up, but having Charlie Parker showing up at one would have been pretty awesome.

Sweet, straight up boogie woogie piano. I love boogie woogie piano but I don't have any. Well, I do now. Awesome. I wish it was more than just this one track. Boogie woogie piano is the kind of piano that I would want to be able sit down and play at an unattended piano, it's the kind of piano that I imagine would be the closest to causing spontaneous dance numbers. That and stride.

There was a short period of time where I was listening to a lot of ragtime bands and I have no idea now what brought that on. (what brings on this mention is the selection by the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra playing Creole Belles. I think there was a snide comment that Willie "The Lion" Smith made on the album that went into the Albatross but I can't remember what it was. For a bit, though, I had a decent collection of ragtime band music. That's band music specifically, not ragtime piano, but ragtime bands. It went as mysteriously as it came. I don't dislike it in the least, it still sounds cool to me, I just don't listen to it...well, ever anymore.

This seems like it was the box set designed to fulfill my pretentious 'amateur ethno-musicologist' aspirations.

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