I was a huge fan of The Blues Project in the late 60s although I didn’t get to see them live until their reunion tour in the early 80s. For the most part they hadn’t lost their chops or their voices by then so it was pretty satisfying. This is an excellent video from their performance at Monterey Pop in 1967 displaying their improvisational skills.
There’s no question in my mind that my father’s love of goofy humor lives on in me (and my son). He would drag me to the radio to listen to The Goon Show and any other zany British comedians and to see the Marx Brothers whenever the opportunity arose. When we lived near NYC this meant being able to go into the city and watch them in a real theater, including one glorious triple bill.
My childhood was often punctuated by his LP of collected songs by Spike Jones and the City Slickers until I could (and probably still can) spout the lyrics and sound effects of every song. When we were living in Oregon in the late 50s, he took me to see them. At a boat show.
If you’re old enough and spent any time as a folkie, you’re probably familiar with Ian & Sylvia, extremely popular Canadian folk singers from the 60s. In 1969 they formed one of the first and best real country rock bands — which was, as always, a shock to many of their fans. Great Speckled Bird’s eponymous LP was brilliant and influential, and it dropped from view almost immediately. Somehow I ended up with a copy back then (1970) and fell in love. Over the years I forgot about them for the most part and the record went along with 500 or so vinyl LPs earlier this year when I gave them to a good home. There were one or two limited edition CDs, long out of print, but I’m about to drop nearly $30 for a used copy from Japan. (In the video’s comments someone claims that their French is atrocious but what do I know?)
One of my most cherished LPs in the late 60s was Projections from The Blues Project.
The hunky guy in the middle is Danny Kalb, the lead guitar (second from the left is Al Kooper). After the band broke up Kalb went through rough personal days and never got the recognition he deserved. In 1969 he recorded one album with Stefan Grossman and that LP, Crosscurrents, was a favorite in my vinyl collection. Something jostled in my memory this week and I discovered that Crosscurrents was available on CD–I’m looking at it right now, still in its wrapper waiting to go home with me.
I finally got to see The Blues Project in concert in the early 80s during their reunion tour. Some of their voices had aged badly but their musical chops were still excellent. This video is from an acoustic set of Danny Kalb’s. I think it’s worth a listen with some tasty work at the three-minute mark.
This is London Grammar, a relatively new group from (surprisingly) England. I find Hannah Reid’s voice haunting and quietly fierce. I hear echoes in the band’s music of people like Jeff Buckley, Julie Driscoll and even Cat Stevens–which resonate with me on a deep level. Your mileage may vary, but even if you don’t mesh with their music, please at least watch the videos which are fascinating bits of art. Particularly take a shot at the first and watch it all the way through. And then maybe the second video which is strange indeed. Hurray for young unfettered artists.
Choosing the musician to highlight this time was, unfortunately, too easy. Johnny Winter died yesterday at the age of 70. The man was one of the most incredible guitar players ever, and a brilliant bluesman. He also had a perfect voice for the blues.
These guys were a lot of fun back in the 60s, as The Turtles and with Frank Zappa. The two songs fused together in this video make a nice set because the latter was actually a gag song taking a slap at their label for constantly demanding another Top 40 hit. And that’s what the song turned out to be.