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I could DIE doin' this" - Yank Rachell encouraging Dan Smith on Night Latch Blues

Author Topic: Martin Grosswendt, John Miller and Del Ray at The Stonington Opera House  (Read 524 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Martin Grosswendt, John Miller and Del Ray at the Stonington Opera house.


This marks the third year that teachers from a guitar camp on a nearby Island have graced the century old and commensurately rustic and funky

Stonington Opera House with an evening of virtuosic and beautiful music.
It marks the third performance from the awesome Del Ray, the second by the terrific Martin Grosswendt and the first by our own Maestro de Chittara
John Miller, awesome AND terrific!


John opened with his beautiful old time pallet on your floor, a fluid and haunting version of the old warhorse given new life by John's interpretation. He followed ( not necessarily in this order ) with Lottie Kimbrough's Rollin' Log Blues with a fine yodeling sing along section fun for all, two Hoagy Carmichael tunes, Rocking Chair and  the nearness of you Both of which showcased John's wonderful trans - genre playing, good for the Blues, Brazillian, Tin Pan Alley and whatever else ails ya, It's a marvel the degree to which he is able to be John Miller no matter what the music at hand. Speaking of hands, watching John getting set to place his fingers on the fretboard is a great experience. To me it almost looks like its happening in slow motion and that the thought completes the action before the fingers touch the strings. The studied deliberation, probably unconscious at this point, is really quite amazing, as is the purity of tone he extracts from whatever instrument he happens to be playing.
He played Shirley Griffith's wonderful version of Ishmon Bracey's Saturday Blues which reminded me once again that it's one of my all time favorite songs. He did a beautiful and heartfelt version of Washington  Phillip's What are they doing in Heaven Tonight.  I find John's singing very affecting and moving. Now that we're geezers there's a certain kind of sad, authentic quality to his vocals that seems as genuine as that of the geezers of old, but informed by a by a high degree of musicality.


The audience seemed to really be with John and were very appreciative.
It was was great to be able to spend a little time with him here and show him some of this beautiful island.


Martin played a good variety of material, all excellently. He opened with a Joseph Spence medly that was very fine indeed and captured the elusive spirit of that Bahamian wild man's genius in fine fashion. I've always wanted to play his stuff but somehow never got around to learning it so I found myself a bit envious.
He showed off his fine bottleneck playing with Robert Johnson's Traveling Riverside Blues, his vocals here and throughout we're quite good. He played a romping version of Blake's Diddy Wah Diddy ( 1st version) and moved to Mandolin for Sleepy John's Floating Bridge, which I also cover though not on mandolin. I was quite pleased to be able to sing along in my head and simultainiously groove on Martin's wonderful Mando playing. It's always valuable to hear what others do with the same songs you do, and Martin's version was totally satisying.
All in all a fine performance from the delightful Mr. Grosswendt.
A word about his guitar:
Martin was sporting a new Fairbanks copy of a 1937 Gibson j50 all black mahogany and spruce with a white headstock plate, and super coolio white pick guard. He let me play it and it was love at first pluck....and sight. One of the most beautiful, sexy guitars I've ever had the misfortune to clap impoverished eyes on. I liked it light years more than any old j-50 or 45 I've ever played. If you can swing it.......


Del was the usual astonishing Del. I gave up watching her hands at a certain point 'cause they move too fast and anyway wtf?
Her songs tend to run together for me a bit but she did straw broom boogie, Memphis boogie and  a host of million note marvels that I can't recall. Something happened for me though when she switched to her National tiny uke. There was a cascade of almost Mozartian fairy like
Sound spilling forth that created what I can only call ( pardon the Blanche DuBois ) enchantment. It was pure music, pure sound detached from stage character and shtick and really just gorgeous. It was a rag of the original written variety I believe.


The trio then came out and did yoeman's service on Jugband hits like Viola Lee, 99 year blues and other chestnuts. They sounded great right out of the box and ready to gig anywhere..


Altogether a wonderful Evening of virtuosi playing  of the "other" serious music.


Footnote:
Ernie Hawkins taught at this workshop and was scheduled to play at this concert but Had to return to Pittsburgh to attend to a family matter. He was missed and I'm sure you will all join me in wishing him well. Great guy, great player.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 11:19:50 AM by uncle bud »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline uncle bud

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Thanks for the thoughtful review, Mr. O'Muck. Sounds like a fine time.

Just so's you knows, I edited your message ever-so-slightly. Somehow a link to apple data detectors snuck into the Washington Phillips title. Perhaps old Washington sending a message? Or Steve Jobs reaching out from beyond to continue to exert his control. Anyway, I deleted it, leaving all actual text intact.

Offline Cleoma

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That sounds fantastic, I wish I could've been there...

Offline Slack

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Thanks for the detailed review O'Muck -- I enjoy your writing style -- it does sound like a wonderful evening

Offline Stuart

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Well written, Phil. I wish that I could have been there. Having had the pleasure of seeing all three perform in person, I would have expected no less.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Thanks for the thoughtful review, Mr. O'Muck. Sounds like a fine time.

Just so's you knows, I edited your message ever-so-slightly. Somehow a link to apple data detectors snuck into the Washington Phillips title. Perhaps old Washington sending a message? Or Steve Jobs reaching out from beyond to continue to exert his control. Anyway, I deleted it, leaving all actual text intact.

Thanks UB I typed this on an iPad and for reasons unknown that one word became a link...go figure.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

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