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Get that sound in your head first, so that sound'll stay with you day and night. Then you learn to do somethin'. Until you get that sound in your head, shit, you ain't gonna do nothin' - Blind Lemon Jefferson, to Tom Shaw

Author Topic: Ari Eisinger - That Will Never Happen No More - Guitar Blues and Ragtime from th  (Read 2394 times)

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Offline Slack

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Ari Eisinger - That Will Never Happen No More - Guitar Blues and Ragtime from the 1920s and 1930s       
Written by Andrew Mullins

Ari Eisinger - That Will Never Happen No More - Guitar Blues and Ragtime from the 1920s and 1930s, Independent      

For the uninitiated, hearing Ari Eisinger the first time can be a shock. The authenticity with which he recreates some of the best and instrumentally complex country blues is downright spooky. It can be fun to watch professionals? reaction as well. A little jaded by years of experience and road-weariness, they might smirk when this small, thin man who looks more like an accountant than a blues musician walks out on stage with his Gibson guitar. Those faces change quickly when he starts to play. It?s a look that says, ?I?ve never heard anyone do that.? And it?s true. There is no one I?ve encountered who plays Blind Blake with such authority and who remains so faithful to the spirit and style of the original music. Hearing the Philadelphia-based guitarist is a rare event though -- he performs infrequently and records even less often, with this, his second CD, coming far too many years after his first release, You Don?t Understand.
As with his first record, there are a number of Blake tunes on this collection, and this time round Eisinger adds the blues of another one of his heroes to the mix, with three tracks from Texas legend Blind Lemon Jefferson. ?One Dime Blues? opens the record, and while it?s not an exact recreation of Lemon?s recording -- Ari weaves his own touches throughout -- it?s as close as you are likely to hear and sets the tone for the rest of the CD: astonishing guitar blues played with all the prewar style intact. Little if anything is modernized for the contemporary palate. Eisinger?s stance is that the music of the 1920s and ?30s blues men and women succeeds gloriously on its own merits and doesn?t need smoothing out or updating.


Mississippi John Hurt?s ?Frankie? follows, based on Hurt?s 1928 version for OKeh, although, again, this performance is not a slavish cover. The guitar breaks interspersed between verses of the classic murder ballad alternate between Hurt?s original instrumental part and new breaks that are deep in the groove, with fluid treble slides and variations on the song?s melodic guitar form. The whole thing is so beautifully performed that if you?re a player you?ll be sorely tempted to hand your guitar over to the pawn shop man (these days, that pawn shop would be eBay, I guess).


Two perfect examples of the detailed attention Eisinger has paid to music of past blues artists are his original instrumentals, ?To Do This It Would Help to Know How? and ?Guitar Crimes.? The first is inspired by Lonnie Johnson?s ?To Do This You Got to Know How,? the latter by Blind Blake?s ?Guitar Chimes.? Listening to these new pieces, you run smack into the time-travel effect of hearing Ari Eisinger play guitar: you?d swear you were listening to Lonnie Johnson, to Blind Blake -- the touch, the phrasing, the melodic elements and riffs are all there -- but the characteristic hiss and pop of the original 78s is gone, and these aren?t songs Johnson or Blake released. This is no exaggeration, and for those of us on the receiving end, it provides a rare and special thrill. The skill and musicality involved in this feat goes far beyond mimicry or anachronism -- it?s more like he?s channeling the best blues guitarists of the era and creating an exquisite, self-contained musical environment.


The oddly titled ?Oozin? You Off My Mind? was originally a Blind Boy Fuller duet with Floyd Council recorded in 1937. Eisinger?s is a driving adaptation of Fuller?s familiar ragtime blues style in C, with some fast-fingered soloing played on a resonator guitar. He takes another duet and turns it into a solo guitar piece in Spanish (open G) tuning with Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe?s ?When the Levee Breaks.? On ?Church Bells,? he revives an obscure gospel number by Kid Prince Moore, actually using the original as a stepping stone to creating a much richer arrangement than Moore himself pulled off in the mid-1930s. The treble lines, full of expressive bends, play effectively off the repeating bass runs -- it?s a beautiful guitar part played under a charming vocal melody and simple, moving lyrics. A great song to revive and make known again, if it was ever known to start. (Weenie Campbell Forum veterans will recognize the tune as well from Frankie?s very fine version on the Back Porch.)


The Blind Blake songs, to no surprise, are played to perfection. ?Chump Man Blues? (out of dropped D tuning) with its half-time groove and the slow ?Rope Stretchin? Blues - Part I? with its melodramatic minor chords both feature inventive guitar solos, rhythmically and melodically elegant and taking full advantage of the space freed up by slower tempos. It?s also entertaining to hear the mild-mannered and dry-witted Eisinger singing the boastful ?Hard Pushing Papa? -- ?I take my liquor standin? up and my women sittin? down? -- a bouncy Blake tune out of G. ?That Will Never Happen No More? was the first song I ever saw Ari play in person, and I remember thinking, ?so that?s what Blake was doing.? All performances have been measured against his since then and none have really come close. Ari?s singing throughout is well-suited to this material, with a strong echo of Blake?s nasal and sly delivery.


The two remaining Lemon Jefferson cuts covered on the record are ?Piney Woods Money Mama? and ?Match Box Blues.? ?Piney Woods? is one of Lemon?s great slow tunes in E, with an accompaniment he used in songs like ??Lectric Chair Blues,? ?Yo Yo Blues? and ?Oil Well Blues.? For aficionados who are paying attention, there?s a moment here where Eisinger seems to make a fleeting reference to ?DB Blues? as well, with a low, rumbling E-string tremolo that Lemon used to imitate a car engine (?Oh, here comes Lemon in that new Ford sedan! Oh, listen to the motor roll...?). ?Match Box? is a recreation of one of the quirkiest guitar parts around and for which Ari has done a detailed breakdown on his Blind Lemon Jefferson instructional video. I think I?ve heard him do it live with more energy in the vocal delivery but even this studio version will leave you shaking your head.


The record closes with Josh White?s ?Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed,? played out of a C Vestapol tuning, and it?s a show-stopper with ghostly double-string bends, funky bass runs and a growling response from the low-tuned guitar. It was recorded in 2003 as were a couple other tracks, but the bulk of the material on the collection was actually recorded in 1996-97, quite some time ago.


Eisinger has only gotten better since then. One of the more impressive things about him, aside from sheer virtuosity, is he doesn?t just master individual songs but takes on the entire stylistic vocabulary as well, allowing him to interject his own musical ideas into a tune without breaking the spell of painstaking authenticity and a real ?20s vibe. His additions to Lemon Jefferson sound right at home, his liberties with Blake are things Blake himself would likely have played. Some contemporary players of country blues dismiss such an approach as too curatorial and insist the music needs a modern or personal imprint to stay vibrant and keep moving forward. But That Will Never Happen No More proves Eisinger?s method is completely viable as well: the music is very much alive in his hands, bringing new insight into the guitar styles of the ?20s and ?30s and the original masters of the music in a way that is just as exciting, if not moreso, for the listener. What he calls ?the golden age of the blues? comes streaming back for the all-too-brief 45 minutes you?ll spend with this CD in the player. Hopefully we?ll have have a far shorter wait for the next record.


Tracklist:

1. One Dime Blues (Blind Lemon Jefferson)

2. Frankie (Mississippi John Hurt)

3. Piney Woods Money Mama (Blind Lemon Jefferson)

4. Hard Pushing Papa (Blind Blake)

5. Chump Man Blues (Blind Blake)

6. Oozin' You Off My Mind (Blind Boy Fuller)

7. When The Levee Breaks (Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy)

8. To Do This It Would Help To Know How (Eisinger)

9. Church Bells (Kid Prince Moore)

10. Rope Stretchin' Blues - Part I (Blind Blake)

11. That Will Never Happen No More (Blind Blake)

12. Match Box Blues (Blind Lemon Jefferson)

13. Guitar Crimes (Eisinger)

14. Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed (Josh White)
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 07:19:22 AM by Johnm »

Offline ArthurBlake

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  • I laid him out cold, with his heels in a tub.
This is a great CD, one of my favourite blues CD's from the last few decades, Ari is the master.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 07:25:28 AM by Johnm »
I met a woman she was a pigmeat some
Big fat mouth, I followed her home
She pulled a gun and broke my jaw
Didnt leave me hard on, I didnt get sore

Offline ArthurBlake

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  • I laid him out cold, with his heels in a tub.
""""Eisinger?s stance is that the music of the 1920s and ?30s blues men and women succeeds gloriously on its own merits and doesn?t need smoothing out or updating."""""""

There has never been a truer comment than that.... ever.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 12:22:28 PM by uncle bud »
I met a woman she was a pigmeat some
Big fat mouth, I followed her home
She pulled a gun and broke my jaw
Didnt leave me hard on, I didnt get sore

Offline Stefan Wirz

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  • Tach-chen!
    • 'American Music'
... nitpicker's advice: Couldn't palease some gentle soul change the thread caption from "Art" to "Ari" - the man's actual given name!?  ;)
Can't stand to see this fault every time I open the Weenie page  >:D
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 12:22:06 PM by uncle bud »

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Stefan, it's not nit picking, it's one of those things that should be right.  And it is, now.  It's funny how the brain works to sometimes just fill things in without really thinking about it.

I remember announcing a soccer game once where a coach's last name was Castro.  I was reading the roster and my strange little brain said "Fidel Castro" and those words came right out of my mouth....luckily I stopped immediately and corrected myself, but the damage was done.  The coach thought it was funny, as did his players, so no harm, no foul.  But the brain can do some strange things...
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline uncle bud

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I blame Slack's magic fingers from when we were changing platforms for the site and moving stuff around.

Offline ArthurBlake

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  • I laid him out cold, with his heels in a tub.
Well Ari is the most artful living guitar player I can think of and now it has been rectified. I must congratulate Slack for this article he wrote here, it was masterful and one of the best I have seen from any review in music anywhere, well done Slack.
I met a woman she was a pigmeat some
Big fat mouth, I followed her home
She pulled a gun and broke my jaw
Didnt leave me hard on, I didnt get sore

Offline EddieD

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  • How's she goin' b'y?
Nice! I will have to pick this one up. I just got the Guitar Artistry of Ari Eisinger DVD. It's great. Man he is the most authentic player. I grabbed the Ernie Hawkins Artistry DVD as well. My two favorite teachers.

Offline rjtwangs

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The only thing that I would add to all of these comments is, hey Ari, how about a new one....I'm ready!!



 Rick

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