Tag Archives: Otis Redding

Music, News and What Not: The Pirate Broadside

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For those of you who visit No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music website for the latest music news, reviews and columns…May 2017 marks the month that the site has hit the pause button on fresh content in order to run a subscription drive for their quarterly print journal. You can read about it here, but the deal is this: you commit to just $6 USD per month and you receive four copies of incredible music journalism each year delivered to your doorstep. And you can cancel at any time. Took me a second to punch in my numbers and take the plunge.

To give you an idea of the quality of writing you’ll be getting, No Depression has sidelined all new content this month in favor of running some of their past long form stories that originally were published in the print journal. So if you want a sampling, here’s a few complimentary stories to check out:

Songs from The Gut: A Conversation with John Prine from Holly Gleason

Sweet Freedom: Jason Isbell Has Hit His Stride by Kelly McCartney (No relation to above pirate.)

Re-Trace: Jay Farrar Looks Back on 20 Years of Son Volt from David McPherson

So there it is…my personal Public Service Announcement; a swing and a pitch to keep No Depression alive and well. Keep in mind this is a non-profit organization, and most of us who contribute do it for literally peanuts or soy beans. Money and writing are like oil and water these days, so unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King, flipping burgers is in your future.

Enough….let’s pull something new out of the ether and take a music break. Even though No Depression is in ‘send me money mode’…there is plenty of news, music and what not. Here’s Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing ‘If We Were Vampires’ live in TV Studio A at KCPT in Kansas City, Missouri. This is on the new new album and it sounds great.

The 2017 Americana Music Awards‘ nominees announcement ceremony included special performances from the Milk Carton Kids, the Jerry Douglas Band, Caitlin Canty and more — but it also featured one particularly special moment: Jason Isbell and the Drive-By Truckers‘ Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley coming together for an acoustic performance.

Isbell, Hood and Cooley sing “Outfit,” originally from the Truckers’ 2003 album Decoration Day. Written by Isbell alone, the song is one of two songs that the then-24-year-old penned for the album; the other, also written solo, is the record’s title track. Earlier this year, in late January, Isbell — now, of course, a solo artist — reunited with his former bandmates during a Drive-By Truckers show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. (From theboot.com)

Speaking of the AMA awards, I was taken aback by the announcement of Van Morrison receiving a lifetime achievement award for songwriting. No disrespect: Van is indeed The Man, and we know that the organization loves to recognize those from the UK (Richard Thompson and Robert Plant were past recipients), but I just don’t get it. Although I know this guy probably doesn’t give a damn and wouldn’t show up anyway, I think he might be deserving of anything with the tagline ‘Americana’ in it.

The folks over at Pitchfork have published a User Guide to The Grateful Dead that focuses not on their studio work but rather the gazillion of live tracks that are out there. Which reminds me…Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter…a songwriting team that deserves acknowledgement from the Americana cabal. You know, since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame people are often slapped around for missing folks like Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, the AMA might be moving into their elitist territory. Sad…to quote the POTUS.

By now you’ve heard about the sad passing of Austin singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave. Local radio station KOKE-FM published the statement from his label and family, and you can find it here. And No Depression co-founder Peter Blackstock covered LaFave’s Songwriters Rendezvous for the Austin American-Statesman, and I think it’s a beautiful piece of writing. Click here to get there. This video was recorded at SXSW in 2011. Rest in peace.

“Every day, every minute, someone in the world is singing a Pete Seeger song. The songs he wrote, including the antiwar tunes, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and those he popularized, including “This Land Is Your Land” and “We Shall Overcome,” have been recorded by hundreds of artists in many languages and have become global anthems for people fighting for freedom.” So begins a story of Pete, and how we keep his spirit alive.

Writer Susanna Reich and illustrator Adam Gustavson have produced a book dedicated to that objective. In 38 pages of text, paintings and drawings, Stand Up and Sing! Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice provides a wonderful portrait of Seeger, focusing on how his strongly-held beliefs motivated his music and his activism. The book introduces children to the notion that music can be a powerful tool for change. As Reich notes, Seeger saw himself as a link in “a chain in which music and social responsibility are intertwined.”

Read more about Pete and his music in this wonderful article posted at Common Dreams.

This year marks 50 years since Otis Redding died. He’d ignited the crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967; later that year, he and his band were en route to a show in Madison, Wisc., when their plane hit rough weather and crashed in an icy lake. Redding was 26 years old. Half a century later, Redding’s influence as a singer and spirit of soul music remains. Author Jonathan Gould, who’s written a new biography called Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life and you can read more about it here.

Guess it’s time to close the ‘pirated’ version of my Broadside column out with something that captures Mr. McCartney’s early acting career. In the meantime, while I’m officially on hiatus, please feel free to come visit me at therealeasyed.com ,  The Real Easy Ed: Roots Music and Random Thoughts which is my Facebook home where I aggregate daily and feel free to subscribe to my Flipboard e-mag of the same name.

 

 

 

 

 

Monterey Pop Festival: The Fifty Year Anniversary

Paul Kantner/Jefferson Airplane by Elaine Mayes

It happened in June of 1967, before Woodstock and Altamont. The Beatles were still a band that had four singles in the top ten. Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits was released and it landed on the charts behind the Monkees, the Doors, the Stones, Aretha Franklin, and the Velvet Underground with Nico. Johnny Cash had yet to record at Folsom Prison and Gram Parsons was neither a Byrd nor a Burrito Brother. Townes Van Zandt was still playing at a club in Houston, Steve Earle was only 12, Jay Farrar turned seven months old, and Jeff Tweedy was yet to be born. There was no radio format called Americana, and it would be 28 years until Peter Blackstock and Grant Alden would publish the first issue of No Depression.

On the first day of the Monterey International Pop Music Festival I had just finished up tenth grade, and was living 3,000 miles away in Philadelphia. Throughout the spring and summer I was hanging out at the Guitar Workshop, downtown near Rittenhouse Square, where I’d dust off the Martins and run errands. It was around the corner from The 2nd Fret, a coffeehouse where you’d see old blues men, young folkies and local bands. On July 23, my friend Carol Drucker asked if I wanted to go with her to see the Mamas and the Papas at Convention Hall. On the bill were the Blues Magoos, Moby Grape, and a guy named Scott McKenzie. That night was the first time we heard news about this festival they had in California.

The three days and nights of the Monterey Pop Festival were put together in just seven weeks as a nonprofit event. It has been written that the idea first came out of a discussion at Cass Elliot’s house with Paul McCartney, John and Michelle Phillips, and producer Lou Adler. Alan Pariser and promoter Ben Shapiro approached John and Lou about staging it in Monterey and a number of people jumped onboard, including Peter Pilaflan, Chip Monck, Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, Tom Wilkes, and David Wheeler.

It’s that Canned Heat performance from Saturday afternoon that was on my mind this week and prompted me to troll YouTube. I was researching ’60s “white boy” blues bands and remembered seeing it years ago. What I had forgotten about was how much of the festival was caught on film by D.A. Pennbacker. Although it was released the following year as a 79-minute film, in 2002 a three-disc high definition DVD set with a super clean 5.1 mix was brought out and is still available from The Criterion Collection.

The performances that are most known from the original release included The Who, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Big Brother and The Holding Company with Janis Joplin, the Mamas and the Papas, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, and Jefferson Airplane. The full collection also has the “outtakes,” with the Blues Project, the Byrds, Country Joe and the Fish, the Electric Flag, Al Kooper, Laura Nyro, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Simon & Garfunkel, and more.

Here’s Pennbacker on how the film was shot:

The music performances would be recorded on eight track recorders, which had only recently been invented and were quite rare. The real complication was getting the film we shot to sync with the sound. The cameras we were going to use weighed heavily on my mind as we had made them ourselves. There were no commercial cameras we could handhold that would run the film in real time and sync to the sound. And the syncing was not always perfect.

We knew that there was going to be much more music than we could fit into a ninety minute film, so Bobby Neuwirth tended a red light at the edge of the stage which would be on for the songs we had chosen so all the cameras would know what to shoot. But when Jimi Hendrix or Otis Redding or The Who got going, the red light never went off.

That’s Booker T. and The M.G.’s with the Mar-Keys’ horn section backing Otis Redding, who six months later would die in a plane crash. He was the closing act on Saturday night and up until then he had performed mainly for black audiences. According to Booker T. Jones, “I think we did one of our best shows, Otis and the M.G.’s. That we were included in that was also something of a phenomenon. That we were there? With those people? They were accepting us and that was one of the things that really moved Otis. He was happy to be included and it brought him a new audience. It was greatly expanded in Monterey.”

The festival was indeed a nonprofit event, with every artist playing for free, with the exception of Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3,000. Country Joe and The Fish earned $5,000 from the film but all other funds went to The Foundation, which describes itself as “a nonprofit charitable and educational foundation empowering music-related personal development, creativity, and mental and physical health. In the spirit of the Monterey International Pop Festival, and on behalf of the artists who took part, the Foundation awards grants to qualified organizations and individuals with identifiable needs in those areas.”

Brian Wilson, who was on the board of directors for the festival, and the Beach Boys were scheduled to headline one night but cancelled. The Kinks, Donovan, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards couldn’t secure visas into the country. Brian Jones attended and introduced Hendrix. Invited but declining to appear were the Beatles, Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, Dionne Warwick, and several Motown artists. Moby Grape’s film and audio remain unreleased as their manager Matthew Katz demanded $1,000,000 for the rights. (Of course, this being 2017, the audio has been found and posted on You Tube…hail hail rock n’ roll.)

This article was originally published as an Easy Ed’s Broadside column over at No Depression dot com.