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Old Folkies

For those who got their start in the '50s and '60s and continue to embrace folk music today.

Members: 63
Latest Activity: Jul 3

Discussion Forum

Radical Folk in the 21st Century

"I'm 65. I'm still alive and I''ve been around the block ..."I figured if anybody would get a kick out of my newest album, Gentle Heretic, it would be this group.Outside the Box - from the Gentle…Continue

Started by Lon Milo DuQuette Nov 4, 2013.

This Old Folky finally's on Pandora

It took a long time and many hoops to jump through but I finally have the songs of my first album on Pandora. I would really appreciate it if my old folky pals went to Pandora and created a "Lon Milo DuQuette" radio station and when my tunes turn up…Continue

Started by Lon Milo DuQuette Sep 14, 2013.

Harps and racks... 18 Replies

I know there's a group for real harp players, but I'm not in that class. However, since finding my old harp rack, and one of my harmonicas, I decided I'd start using them again when playing some of my favorite folk tunes.Any other of you folks using…Continue

Started by Phil Manuel. Last reply by Phil Manuel Aug 28, 2012.

Guitar Army 3 Replies

I live in Punta Gorda, Florida (between Sarasota and Fort Myers).  Every Thursday evening for years, and ever-growing bunch of musicians gather in Gilchrist Park (on Charlotte Harbor), naturally congregate into groups, and play/sing all sorts of…Continue

Started by Steve Widmeyer. Last reply by Jud Hair May 17, 2012.

Ok, THIS group is definitely for me. 1 Reply

I started playing back in the 60's and it has always been mostly PP&M, John Denver, Kingston Trio, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Everley Bros., I could go on. Now days it is mostly John and PPM with a lot of Suzie Bogguss thrown in. If you're not…Continue

Started by Mike Bishop. Last reply by Blues Agent Apr 21, 2012.

I've waited 45 years for this! 6 Replies

O my gosh!!  Even though I'd grown up on traditional folk tunes, my acute awareness of music didn't come of age until 1962.  I was eleven years old by then, but could absolutely NOT get enough of P,P&M, Kingston Trio, Weavers, Highwaymen, Terry…Continue

Started by J. D. Woods. Last reply by Blues Agent Apr 19, 2012.

Old folky refusing to lay down n die. 2 Replies

Old folky refusing to lay down n die.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlqzF2vK-GU&feature=shareContinue

Started by Lon Milo DuQuette. Last reply by Lon Milo DuQuette Jan 10, 2012.

Jap P. ? 3 Replies

Where did you go to school upstate?  I was at SUNY Platttsburgh.  Did you ever hear or know of the Chapin Brothers?  They were big in my area and Tom. the oldest made it nationally as you and others probably know.

Started by Lou. Last reply by Lou Aug 26, 2011.

Cult Movie? 2 Replies

Believe I sent this to the wrong place at first but just a brief comment on one of my favorite movies, "A Mighty Wind".  Pretty good movie, makes me laugh and I even like the music.

Started by Lou. Last reply by Lou Apr 19, 2012.

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Comment by Edward Sparks on June 7, 2011 at 1:06pm

Ken...and here it is!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtvD1DZxcMc

 

Comment by Edward Sparks on June 6, 2011 at 9:05pm
You too JP
Comment by Jay P. on June 6, 2011 at 7:08pm

Thanks for the post Edward! I have forever loved John B Sebastian. Everyone I have ever mentioned his name to would just smile, nod and say great things about him and his music. His memories of Greenwich Village take me back to my undergrad days in Upstate NY. Trips to the City always ended up in the Village; I don't remember ever sleeping on any of those visits.

 

Thanks again Edward!  Be well all.

 

Jay P. 

Comment by Edward Sparks on June 6, 2011 at 1:09pm

Interesting article on an old folkie!

 

John Sebastian
John Sebastian talks with Acoustic Guitar about his album with David Grisman, folk music, jug bands, and the Lovin' Spoonful.

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers


The album Satisfied brings together two musicians who at first glance seem an unlikely match: John Sebastian, a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame who helped write the pop soundtrack of the ‘60s with the Lovin’ Spoonful (“Daydream,” “Do You Believe in Magic?” “Summer in the City”), and David Grisman, mandolinist and mastermind of the bluegrass-inspired instrumental music known as “dawg.” A self-described “old pop record guy,” Sebastian is accustomed to amped guitars and track-by-track studio perfectionism; an old-school acoustic purist, Grisman is devoted to vintage instruments and live, analog recording.

Appearances are deceiving, though. Sebastian and Grisman in fact met as NYU students soaking up the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early ’60s, where they played together in the short-lived Even Dozen Jug Band along with such future notables as Maria Muldaur (then d’Amato), Steve Katz, Stefan Grossman, Peter Siegel, and Josh Rifkin. In the decades since, both Sebastian and Grisman have continued to dip into the folk/jug-band well—especially Sebastian, who led the J-Band through the ’90s and is featured in the new documentary film about jug-band music, Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost (www.chasingusghost.com).

Some 40 years after their first meeting, Sebastian and Grisman reconnected at a benefit concert in California. They so enjoyed performing together that they hatched plans for Satisfied, which dips into both of their catalogs (Sebastian’s “Coconut Grove,” Grisman’s “EMD”) as well as tunes from Mississippi John Hurt, the Everly Brothers, and jug band leader Will Shade. Playing live in Grisman’s northern California studio, Sebastian supplied the bluesy fingerpicking guitar and harmonica, and Grisman the quicksilver mandolin.

In early winter I visited Sebastian at his home near Woodstock, New York, to look back at his acoustic roots and how they’re bearing fruit in the new duo.

If I had been in Washington Square Park when you and David were hanging out there circa 1962, what would I have seen and heard?

SEBASTIAN You have to remember, at that time there was a cement circle that was perfect for plunking your butt on and playing guitar. So you’d have in one area Johnny Herald, David Grisman, Jody Stecher, and they’re all yowling at the top of their range learning how to sing bluegrass. They’re instrumentally quite far ahead of the rest of us. I’m off in the corner with one other guy trying to be like Lightnin’ Hopkins … In that same park is a doo-wop band whose lead singer has a remarkable sandy grit to his voice—it’s Richie Havens! He’s only 17 or so, but he’s already great. You’ve also got guys who all come from one college, they’ve been playing in the smoking room in their off hours, and by golly they’re going down to Washington Square and do “Tom Dooley” the way they think it should be done.

This is like, are we all Italians and Jewish guys in this park? [Laughs] The excitement about this music really caught fire with New York’s second generation of immigrant children—I don’t know why.

You also had many opportunities for contact with older musicians at home.

SEBASTIAN I was very lucky. My father [harmonica player John Sebastian] was a classical musician who was trying something different, so all of his concerts weren’t at Town and Carnegie halls. He was playing clubs as well, where he was interacting with people like Josh White and Sonny Terry. Because of Josh and another close friend, Burl Ives, I was smack-dab in the end of the ’40s folk music scene. By the time I was 16, I could go up to Sonny Terry and say, “Hi, it’s John—you know, John Sebastian’s son,” and I would have his ear. He was very instructive about the harmonica, very willing to show me things that I wanted to hear.

So Dad was a conduit. My mom wrote for radio, and her whole world was verbal—funny people coming over all the time. Vivian Vance [Ethel on I Love Lucy] was my mom’s best, best friend. So there was a lot of humor, a lot of things that would be content for songwriting at some point.

How about in terms of guitar? Mississippi John Hurt figures heavily in your music and on the new CD.

SEBASTIAN Absolutely. Within maybe two years of this first contact that I’m talking about between David and me, at 18, there were two really important things. One was my father did a television show that included Lightnin’ Hopkins. It also included Joan Baez, who was unheard of at the time. I sat under a camera and watched Lightnin’ Hopkins as far away as I’m sitting to you right now, and that knocked my block off. My dad said, “I saw you leave home that day”—he told me that 20 years later. Lightnin’ needed someone to carry his guitar around and talk to the club owners and just be a New York guy for a Texas guy, so that’s what I did for a year or so.

John Hurt was also coming to the Gaslight Café about once every six or eight weeks, and I became his occasional guitar carrier and harmonica accompanist. What I really wanted to know about was the guitar. The harmonica had been with me since I was five, and I was getting fluent on the little diatonic. But the guitar was a whole other mountain, and John Hurt was at the top of the mountain. So eventually I began to make friends, and he was a very receptive teacher. He was very different than Lightnin’, whose background had been street singing—you don’t teach somebody a song that’s going to come at you across the street from where you’re trying to make your living. John played guitar at parties and on back porches; his world was more of an agricultural world that had recreation on the weekends. Lightnin’s world was recreation. I learned a lot from both men—it wasn’t all about the fretboard.

Jug-band music isn’t nearly as well known or clearly understood as, for instance, prewar blues. How would you describe it?

SEBASTIAN Well, jug-band music was essentially African-American party music that preceded electricity. It contained elements of so many different types of music—that’s one reason people have trouble describing it. Here will be something that’s definitely ragtime, maybe being interpreted by a rough bluesy style. But then the next tune is more like hokum where the singer is making fun of himself, the tradition that sprang out of medicine-show music—which was racially derogatory in many cases.

A lot of this music was unsingable for young folksingers. My solution was, OK, let’s take out the parts that we can’t say. So I ended up rewriting tunes like “On the Road Again” and taking out the racial epithets. As modest as this was, it was the beginning of songwriting for me. One of the nice things about this material at the time—this is confession number 857—was that nobody knew it wasn’t your tune.

Why did jug-band music become a foundation for ’60s rock songwriting in bands like the Spoonful and the Grateful Dead?

SEBASTIAN I think it had a couple of things that musicians enjoy. It had antiquity, it had lack of familiarity, and it had an atmosphere of naughtiness and contrariness. So guys like Garcia and me were listening to the Harry Smith catalog and going, “What a cool thing about a gal who might slit you with a razor! Whoa—I don’t know any girls like that!”

In the Spoonful you often played instruments like Autoharp and keyboards. Was your songwriting focused on guitar?

SEBASTIAN It was really focused on the guitar for many years, but I used keyboards, which I can’t play to this day, as a way of defamiliarizing myself with my musical medium. We’re all trying to do this in one way or another: shake yourself loose from the pattern that your fingers are used to following. That’s how you come up with something that might have a unique quality. I think this is where this whole [alternate] tuning thing came out of—somehow making the guitar less familiar. Good things do come out of throwing yourself off the cliff one way or another.

The Autoharp totally came about because I had heard Mike Seeger on a Newport Folk Festival album with the New Lost City Ramblers, and I was trying to impress girls at summer camp.

On the Grisman album, you play the Tin Pan Alley tune “Deep Purple,” and your song “Passing Fantasy” uses that same popular-song vocabulary. How did you become grounded in that kind of music?

SEBASTIAN I used to sit under the piano while [songwriters] Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen played for hours—a whole evening at a party. I was good friends with [Van Heusen’s] daughter, my family was friends with his family, and they all connected up in New York and Long Island. This was when I was eight to 14.

And then also my mom’s humming around the house was a lot of those kinds of tunes. The radio atmosphere was pretty hell-bent for leather—if you were in the studio and could do something, you’d end up doing it sooner or later. Mom ended up singing in front of several bands when singers wouldn’t show up.

With Grisman, I know that [this kind of music] is not smack-dab where he has spent so much time he’s bored already. Part of the game is just to give Grisman a sniff of something unfamiliar, and it excites him. I find this very similar to how I was working with [Spoonful guitarist Zal] Yanovsky, which was to find the right bait.

How do you approach the kinds of fingerpicking parts heard on the new CD?

SEBASTIAN I’ve had two jobs mostly as a guitarist, and both are support jobs. The job in the Lovin’ Spoonful was to be a good rhythm guitar player, and put up a frame so that the other guy can come out and do all this rococo décor and throw flowers and make it beautiful. Then the job that comes with songwriting is providing the frame—it’s the same job. You’re trying to describe the song as thoroughly as you can, whether you’re playing in a band or not.

Now since the Spoonful I’ve had 35-odd years to relay those arrangements in a one-guitar format. One of the things I find is that I’m very often in C, because you can reach a lot of the bass notes. To have the bass notes in the arrangement creates a lot of the impression of fullness. I’m not a guy who moves around the fretboard a lot. I’m usually in the first position. Especially playing with David, everything else is so well covered—why bother with the upper register? If I can provide him with the frame, then the arrangement works.

Do you always play with a thumbpick and your fingers?

SEBASTIAN I play with the thumbpick and I cuff a lot—using the palm of my hand to mute or at least affect the bass strings. That’s all John Hurt. The guys that have interested me have rarely been the virtuoso guys. I love to go and play with someone like [electric bluesman] Hubert Sumlin and just be amazed and have no idea how he does what he does, but it’s never been a place that I had to get to myself. To me the fun was in things like the way John Hurt plays, and that stumpy, thumpy style of some of those [Gus] Cannon jug-stomping kind of tunes.

The way you play bass lines and pick three-note chords sounds a lot like the left and right hands on a piano.

SEBASTIAN Yeah, and that shows up in “Daydream.” I was imitating Motown—[the bass lines of] “Baby Love” and “Where Did Our Love Go.” There is something interesting to me about the paradox of playing pianistically on the guitar. In fact that’s part of a conversation that wound up creating a tune, which is “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?” Me and Zal were talking a lot about Huey “Piano” Smith, because we loved all his records. And we said, “OK, what if we made a record with the Huey ‘Piano’ Smith feel but there were no pianos?” This is how we used to entertain ourselves. So actually, “Make Up Your Mind” is a pianistic idea—the whole thing is on those adjoining notes slopping on and off.

Grisman plays lots of those types of licks.

SEBASTIAN You know, I said it in the liner notes, he’s like a great character actor: you turn around and he’s changed in a split second, just in a turn of a phrase. There’s a moment that I call his requinto moment, where he doubles up on strings and it sounds like an instrument with four unison strings. I just find him endlessly amusing.

The original recording of Grisman’s “EMD” is classic newgrass. On the duo CD, you slow it way down and play it almost like rag-time. How did you go about reinventing a song that’s so familiar?

SEBASTIAN You know, don’t tell nobody—I hadn’t heard it. This works both ways, because David hasn’t heard a lot of my stuff. We aren’t so familiar with each other’s material that it’s intimidating. It’s probably a good thing. [With “EMD”] all I was trying [to do was] to thump along underneath him, and also to have some say in the melodic content, too.

Do you have other projects in the hopper with Grisman or with your own band?

SEBASTIAN Unfortunately not with my own band. Fritz Richmond’s passing [in 2002] makes a lot of things change, and the J-Band is going to have to change. We had the greatest washtub and jug player on the planet working with us, and I don’t really know whether I have much sustain with a jug band without those elements. That feel of that washtub was really important to me.

When I got into this project with David, I realized this is its own thing. It can include anything we come up with in the future, but it also accommodates what we’ve done in the past in a way that no other project I’ve ever involved myself in could. I’ve been really interested in the few occasions when David and I would attack these Spoonful tunes—I’d say, “Gee, this thing has a whole new life somehow.” It permits both of us to revisit our catalogs.

So really, to me, this John and David idea is the most interesting thing on the horizon. And obviously David continues on with the several units that he works with—the bluegrass guys and the dawg guys and the Hot Club guys, they’re not going to stop coming around. He’s playing with [jazz guitarist] Frank Vignola now—I’ve got to be on my good behavior!


:

Comment by Jay P. on May 19, 2011 at 8:08pm

Mario, Great stuff! Always love listening to Roy Book Binder...he is great. Thanks!!

 

Jay P 

Comment by MÁRIO RIBEIRO on May 19, 2011 at 4:30pm

Great guitar !

Great singing !

Great song !

 

GREAT ROY BOOK BINDER



Comment by MÁRIO RIBEIRO on May 18, 2011 at 4:57pm

Great guitar !

Great singing!

Great song !

 

GREAT CHRIS SMITHER

Comment by Edward Sparks on May 18, 2011 at 1:53pm

Hey Mario,

I love Gorka...my band does a song by him called "Love is our Cross to Bear" from his great album "I Know."  Check it out!  Edward 

Comment by MÁRIO RIBEIRO on May 18, 2011 at 12:25pm

Great guitar !

Great singing !

Great song !

GREAT JOHN GORKA

 



Comment by MÁRIO RIBEIRO on May 17, 2011 at 3:30pm

Great guitar !

Great singing !

Great song !

 

GREAT JORMA KAUKONEN !!!!!!

 

 

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