Introducing the band, clockwise from the chair:
- 1928 Gibson L3
- 2003 National Estralita
- 1900 tater bug mandolin, made in Boston
- 1890 parlor guitar, no name, cheapo
- 2006 Collings mandolin
There was a point in my musical life where I decided that I’m committed, with no holds barred. Not long after that I stopped taking bookings where I was supposed to draw an audience.
Drawing an audience is a big distraction from playing. If I have time to spend on preparing for a gig, I want it to benefit people’s ears – things like practicing, working on the set list, improving my equipment. Quality is hyperefficient. I have limited resources. The music is the best place to invest them..
Also, drawing a crowd is a con game. Making It In The Music Business is not what I’m about. As much respect as I have for people who make this game work, they are vastly outnumbered by people getting fleeced.
So I direct my attention to pre-existing crowds in need of music. Parties, for example. Problem solved. But then there’s a new problem – the music isn’t what they’re there for.
So last night I happened to play a gig for an audience which was there for other reason than to listen, and it was awesome. A quiet room. Comfortable seats. Ability to follow the phrases back and forth. I felt like they were disappointed when the big dumb songs arrived instead of relieved that the pointy headed stuff was finally over.
Maybe I can find a way to achieve both goals.
There’s a Corey Harris gig in NYC on January 14 that I’d go to if I were still back east, which relates to an incredible video I posted a while back: Sittin´ On Top Of The World – Otha Turner & Corey Harris
Those guys both excel at the African roots of American music, which were buried as far as possible because of european looniness WRT Africa, like Heart of Darkness. Otha’s thing is pretty much straight quills AFAICT. Harris’ playing is creative and beautiful in a genre (blues) that is mainly formulaic machismo. Speaking as a musician with a related creative strategy, I have a lot of respect for where he takes it.
More awesomeness in the tradition of americana africana:
(1) Ali Farka Toure and Corey Harris play a Skip James tune. (2) From way back in 1961: Sid Hemphill & Lucious Smith – Old Devil’s Dream. (3) A short documentary on Otha Turner at FolkStreams.
Credit to my college friend Anne Wallace Allen, who posted this to Facebook, saying:
Bottled in Idaho, I guess. Eric keeps finding whiskey bottles in an 1890 house he’s renovating.
Mandolinist, resonator guitarist, and singer Lucas Gonze plays the roots of roots music – vintage Americana from the civil war to the early recording era. It’s homestyle music, great for a barbecue, with flavors of bluegrass, early blues, and New Orleans jazz. It’s like a soundtrack to Deadwood, including the blood, mud and archaic dialect.
Part of his reason to play antique style is to contribute to the public domain. Gonze puts his recordings into the public domain (or Creative Commons), and limits his sources to old works which are out of copyright.
Gonze is no luddite. He documents his music (and other quirky americana) on a blog at soupgreens.com. His version of Doc Watson’s “Deep River Blues” has 35,000 plays on YouTube (http://bit.ly/WZGu3U). His “Ghost Solos” MP3 EP was covered on BoingBoing and has 28,000 plays on Free Music Archive. A popular source of soundtrack music for videos, his recordings have been used by the video blogger Ze Frank (100,000 plays to date) and many others. He is on YouTube at youtube.com/lcsgze, on SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/lucas_gonze, and on Freesound at freesound.org/people/lucasgonze.
Comments on his music from around the web:
“Cracking player.. Lovely singing…”
“A forthright quality to that performance. It has the courage of it’s own convictions …loved it.”
“Fascinating hybrid picking technique”
“Wonderful, fancy picking on a greatsounding guitar!”
“if yhu goin dance like thiss then yhu mightee as well ge freaky then….. yhu kno wat i meann!!!”
“Lucas Gonze was incredible. He figuratively knocked everybody’s socks off.”
“Love your work, bringing these amazing old pieces of American music to life, and giving us some great historical contexts about the composers. “
“This is awesome =^.^=”
“The songs are jigsawed together perfectly, and I don’t consider them especially gloomy. I would use the word “atmospheric”. Lovely.”