MAGIC MIX

folk . americana . blues . rock&roll

WEEK STARTING 23 Aug

Genre pick of the week Cover of Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969 by Various Artists.

Various Artists

Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969

    Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969, is a 50th anniversary celebration collecting previously unheard songs by such blues legends as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, James Cotton, Son House, Magic Sam, T-Bone Walker, Junior Wells, Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier, Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Lightnin’ Hopkins, J. B. Hutto & His Hawks, Roosevelt Sykes, Luther Allison, Otis Rush, Big Joe Williams, Charlie Musselwhite and more. 

    The historic gathering was presented by a small group of blues-obsessed University of Michigan students determined to give their blues heroes a public spotlight where they might shine before it was too late. Among those enterprising student-promoters was John Fishel, whose teenage brother Jim Fishel, gathered some friends to help record the festival as a personal memento. Taking advantage of their all-access pass and juggling a small Norelco tape recorder from set to set, the friends let the 1⁄4” tape roll. Though field recordings in the literal sense of the term, they capture the brilliance of the musicians, the excitement of the crowd and the loose, convivial nature of the entire festival. Those tapes, long thought to be lost, have now been lovingly restored to capture the electric energy of the landmark concert. Both volumes include never-before-seen photographs, an exclusive reminiscence from Jim Fishel, and extensive liner notes by Parker Fishel, Sophie Abramowitz and David Beal.

    Selva Discos fulfills its duty of giving a new life to Fernando Falcão's long lost LPs with the reissue of his album Barracas Barrocas, originally released through Egberto Gismonti's cult record label Carmo in 1987. Somehow, an original copy of this album is even more elusive than its predecessor Memória das Águas and it is a pity that such a stunning piece of music was kept apart from listeners worldwide for so long.

    The follow-up to Memória das Águas was recorded in São Paulo after Fernando Falcão returned from his exile in France in 1984. In order to conceive Barracas Barrocas, the musician had the help of illustrious friends, such as singer-songwriter Alceu Valença and singer Tetê Espíndola, alongside brothers Myriam and Daniel Taubkin. At the time, Falcão was still using the sound sculptures he created for Memória das Águas, as he is credited in the liner notes for playing a "water orchestra" and his berimbau variant called balauê.

    Barracas Barrocas is an album that works as a more condensed and coherent artistic statement of Falcão's oeuvre. Lush strings, swelling brass, glowing production, and humming atmospheres fill the record, adding a beautiful yet subtly linked counterpoint to his previously explosive debut. It is very cinematic, sounding like the soundtrack of a play that only existed in the musician's mind.

    For this release, not only the sound was remastered but the artwork of Barracas Barrocas was completely and faithfully restored. Also, the reissue comes with unprecedented liner notes featuring rare photos of the musician and his sound sculptures plus an article that tells the story of Fernando Falcão after returning to Brazil following his exile – a story that has never been told, until now.

    RW Hedges

    The Hills Are Old Songs

      Following on from RW Hedges Pop debut 'The Hunters in the Snow'.. this one takes place in The American West of 1877 the year the phonograph was invented.

      Constructed in RW's studio 'The Chalet' a get away full of books and fairy lights out in a field in a no man’s land. RW & Luca Nieri sat around bonfires and wrote lyrics written on big spools of paper.

      As per last time Luca Nieri produces and RW Hedges directs the songwriting further towards his influences of 1930's Hollywood. 


      Innocence Mission

      Befriended

        For listeners of the Innocence Mission, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania trio are beyond a favorite band, more like a beloved companion, such is the intensity and fragility of their sound and vision, spearheaded by Karen Peris’ heartbreaking, breathtaking voice.

        Those fans include Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), who have both covered innocence mission songs, and in whose company the trio deserve to be bracketed.

        Originally released on CD in 2003 befriended received high praise from NPR, Pitchfork, Paste and many others. Arguably their best work, ‘Befriended’, is a haunting collection of 10 songs (plus a bonus track) that features the interplay of Don Peris’ gorgeously warm and shimmering electric guitars with Karen’s transcendently lovely vocals and moving lyrics.

        Sufjan Stevens calls the innocence mission “moving and profound,” adding, “What makes Karen Peris’ lyrics so remarkable is the economy of words, sensory language, concrete nouns - everyday objects take on tremendous meaning.” “For me it’s helpful to be able to see the song, if I can,” Karen says.

        This LP version is available on Purple colored vinyl and includes the previously unreleased bonus track “Words of My Brother.”

        “Befriended is a bucolic, nuanced bit of Sunday morning coffee-and-wistfulness, lovingly strummed acoustic guitars (augmented by the occasional organ line, sparingly applied upright bass, and light, flickering drums), rolling out time-tested chords with unwavering earnestness, revisiting the sweet, confessional early-70s folk of Joni Mitchell and the late-80s lilt of the Sundays and Cocteau Twins.” - Pitchfork.

        Shannon Lay

        August

          There is an entire sub-genre of poetry devoted to rivers and their persistent, meditative flow. Emily Dickinson’s ‘My River Runs to Thee’ compares them to the cycle of life, while Alfred Tennyson’s ‘The Brook’ deems them eternal and Kathleen Raine’s ‘The River’ muses on the dream-state they evoke. For transcendent folk pop artist Shannon Lay, the river is all of the above: It’s the metaphor driving her latest album, the exquisitely uplifting ‘August’, which doubles as an aural baptism renewing her purpose for making music. “I always picture music as this river. Everyone’s throwing things into this river, it’s a place you can go to and feed off of that energy,” she says, “and feel nourished by the fact that so many people are feeling what you’re feeling. It’s this beautiful exchange.”

          The album’s name, ‘August’, refers to the month in 2017 when Lay quit her day job and fully gave herself over to music. This was her liberation as an artist and the album is devoted to paying that forward to her listeners. Lay may be the most chilled-out artist you’ll ever meet. Despite fronting her tranquil solo act and being a guitarist/singer in the indie rock band Feels, she never pressures herself to overachieve. Nonetheless, she regularly does: in a glowing review, Pitchfork anointed her last album, ‘Living Water’, “captivating.”

          ‘August’ was mostly written in three months, during Lay’s first solo tour for ‘Living Water’. “For the most part, all of the songs were just guitar and voice,” she says. In keeping with the humbled, contemplative nature of ‘August’, most tracks clock-in at three minutes or less. She saved indulgence for the production. “Some songs as they were had this room to grow,” says Lay, who recorded the album with her longtime friend, musician Ty Segall at his home studio on the East Side. “I believe whoever you record with tends to affect the mood of music and Ty really brought this jovial sense that I hadn’t really explored yet,” she says. Also in the mix is Mikal Cronin, who played saxophone on the album’s opener, ‘Death Up Close’. “A lot of my friends who are really tough have admitted that they shed a tear when they hear my songs, and I think that really speaks to the visceral aspect of folk music,” Lay says. “It’s this ancient form of expressing yourself.”

          Think of ‘August’ as a warm hug for your psyche. “I want to create as much music as I can,” she says, “and leave this spot by the river where people can go sit and enjoy.”

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: Loser Edition sun yellow vinyl.

          Pelt

          Pearls From The River

            VHF presents the first time on vinyl for Pearls From The River, the all acoustic epics album from the “classic” Pelt trio lineup of Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, and Patrick Best. Recorded in a single March 2003 session in Virginia by Mikel Dimmick, this was a superb distillation of their interests at the time (both alone and together—Rose’s first solo records, the emergence of the Black Twigs as a busy working band, etc).

            “Up the North Fork” is a trio for banjo, baritone banjo, and cello—after the snakey bowed introduction, the fast thwacking of the banjos and forcefully strummed cello take over and whip up a storm. The other two tracks are lengthy ragas (one in C, one in D) with the virtuoso modal guitar of Rose front and center. The title track features Rose on twelve-string, dueling with Mike Gangloff on esraj. Best’s thick, sonorous double-bass bowing anchors the duet between the lightning thrumming / plucking of Rose’s guitar and Gangloff’s arcing, sharply bowed half-time melody. “Road To Catawba” has Rose on six-string, with Gangloff moving to tamboura. Best’s bass is again the foundation, with whistling overtones rising from his bow over the low drone.

            Liner notes by Byron Coley. “Join Pelt in celebrating the ecstatic joy that results from refusing to accept the alleged primacy of shit-culture. It does not exist if we will not believe in it. And we must refuse it on all levels always. The proof of its surrender is at hand. Yr hand. Right now, motherfucker!” —Byron Coley.


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