In 2009, my friend John left a message after a fun festival, reminding that “with your head in the clouds, remember to keep your feet on the ground.” The rain and hail have been impressive. The clouds broke before sunset and I went to town for some errands. As usual, I stayed too long with the nice librarians. It pained me to return Examples and George E. Todd’s book.
I shot the Rogue River Reef in an earlier experiment to generate 3D-like mosaics. The images had their problems. Installation of Silverlight to look at pictures is a lot to ask. I like photosynths, but didn't like the black box image compositing it does, nor the requirement to submit images for said black boxing. That experiment was tons more work than the 30 seconds it took to pull over where highway 101 arcs to the east to cross the Rogue river and snap this. Here’s a white box looking west towards Submarine Rock.
I am impressed at the quality of certain types of b+w images with the Hipsta. Yeah, whoop-de-doo, more clouds. This is above the high school with the last rays of the breaking storm, shot on BlacKeys Supergrain.
I retrieved a p&s camera I have not written about yet, though did shoot with it once before. From the grocery store parking lot:
En route to the library:
Tonight was a celebration of sorts in that I sent 30 photographs in for enlargements. The adventure of moving to Kentucky was bound to have surprises. It has taken these two years to break on through to the other side to where the journey has begun to seem worthwhile. I was immersed in music from the fall of '07 to the winter of my discontent in late 2008. I’ve always been immersed in music, but '05-'07 with Hellbound Glory were intense. I learned much about artistic virtue from the unlikliest of mentors. Leroy Virgil, Chico Kortan, Adam Jaffe and Johnny Fingers were the best band mates a science geek could ask to have.
They allowed for my gear experimentations and nerdy explorations into the creation of live music with kindness and friendship. We played shows with other great bands, and had the pleasure of opening shows for many different national acts. I particularly enjoyed Robbie Fulks because Hellbound Glory played as an acoustic ensemble with the mandolin in my hands. After 2 years on the road playing electric bass, it was a real thrill to attempt to inject the fire that Johnny on telecaster or Adam on pedal steel had done so many nights before. I had a good time hanging out with the talented Robbie Jersoe. He encouraged Austin, but also thought Nashville would be a good place for me, too.
That show in California came several weeks after a house concert from the great (and I really mean it) Eric Taylor in April as well as my trip to Texas for a songwriting workshop at the Kerrville Folk Festival. These experiences were coalescing into a clear internal directive to do something! I selected my purest passion: bluegrass mandolin, and combined with a lifelong drive to write songs, moved to Kentucky to write an album. It has turned into more of a book and the songs are still being written.
I steeped in the past of bluegrass music as well as my own musical and photographic family history in eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio. My great grandfather Claude was a photographer and musician, primarily a violinist. His violin is with me here in the beautiful quiet calm of southern Oregon.
In the most unpredictable way, I ventured back towards my start as a blues guitar player. It may have begun with my intense study of the great blues mandolin players Charlie McCoy and Yank Rachell. I investigated the roots of the great Robert Johnson and sank into the greatness of Skip James, Kokomo Arnold, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Patton and Son House. My left hand throbbed with an arthritic pain in Kentucky, most pronounced on the mandolin and my D-28. Peeling back the layers of the great Merle Travis for my own song about my great uncle Arthur, I discovered the fork in the tree. Arnold Shultz. The same man who Mr. Monroe cites as a major influence as a fiddler and musician, is widely regarded as the person who brought a thumbstyle guitar to western Kentucky. My investigations concluded that Robert Johnson and Arnold Shultz carried the same delta blues tradition on guitar. Furthermore, Arnold suffered from the same difficulty I was finding in my hands in the cold Kentucky winter. Arnold spent half of his time (the cold months) along the Mississippi and Louisiana. He was anoymously murdered by poisoned alcohol in 1931, the same fate suffered by Robert Johnson only seven years later in 1937. I’ll reiterate that Mr. Monroe and Mr. Johnson share the same birth year of 1911, 100 years ago.
“Bury me in the Morgantown mud,” was song written by my talented girlfriend of that time after our April trip to Morgantown, Kentucky. With the pain in my hands (waaah), I started to play blues harmonica. The proper term is blues harp, but this unfortunately conjures up absurdly misaligned imagery for most people. It reminds me of how some folks would rather say fancy words than a simple word, but then mispronounce it. My college english professor was great. He encouraged us to write simply. He also encouraged attention to syllables; ‘utilize’ at three when ‘use’ will work. Mr. Metzger is a good teacher. Ooops, I drifted there. I got deep into the harp and blues while in Kentucky. Three profoundly important artists made their way into my life while visiting Charles Richter’s hometown (earthquake scale guy, Hamilton, OH) early in my southern travels. (You can go back in time and read that original blog). The artists were all blue harp masters, introduced to me tangentially by Bart Davenport. Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson (II), and Little Walter. Hoodoo Man Blues is a masterpiece of early electric blues, featuring Buddy Guy on guitar and the fantastic bass playing of Jack Myer. Good Morning Schoolgirl has a great groove and ensemble playing. Harp allievated the hand problems but sent me into a strange place musically. Wasn’t I living in Kentucky to study bluegrass mandolin and write songs? Life is funny that way.
Celebrating today. This first push gets a number of things stepping towards to the next level. As I returned home, the ground was white with a thick layer of hail. An unusual sight at the sea.
Sound as ever,
Thursday, February 17, 2011
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