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Author Topic: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers  (Read 1762 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« on: March 08, 2013, 07:37:24 AM »
It occurred to me on my last birthday that I am now about the same age that many of the "old" blues players were upon rediscovery in the early sixties. I know that there are others from the over sixty set, survivors if you will of that golden age, of rediscovery here as well. It also means, for me personally, that since I started performing at the age of 16 in 1968, that I've been doing this more or less consistently for forty five years! All of which goes to say that some of us here on Weenie now have as much life experience (very different sort of life of course) and playing experience as our heros of yore.


Does any of it mean anything? I don't mean in the Hamlet like sense, just in the sense of having come closer to the goals one hazily sets as a practitioner in a particular art form. I trust we've all become better more natural sounding players, but can we point to any of our number and honestly say, "Yes so and so is every bit as good as Robert Pete Williams, or Big Bill Broonzy, or Big Joe Williams? Perhaps, but if not why not? Is the unwillingness or inability to take the music to a new and personal place leaving us in a sort of permanent student zone?* One could (and I do) look at Bob Dylan's mid sixties musical and song writing apotheosis as a direct outgrowth of country Blues sources mixed with equal parts Surrealist & Beat Poetry and his own guilt free chimerical personality. He might be an example of someone who absorbed the sources and ran, and in the process made a new thing.


Of course few of us have a "new thing" as a goal. In fact what seems to have occurred for many of us geezers is that we caught the beginnings of a wave which proved to be continually unfolding and uncovering new entries into the canon to this day. In some ways many of us started out as aspiring musicians and morphed into something like archeologists, and not in the musty stuck in the library sense but like Schliemann discovering semi-mythic lost cities and attempting to recover their treasures.
I'm not sure where this leaves us or, I should probably just speak for myself, me. Was there, inherent in the enterprise a basic assumption that the products of a particular culture were replicable, repeatable, universal, that has been disproven by experience? Has this music become concert hall music rather than barrel house, or back porch music? Of course great things can be heard in concert halls and a great performance is thrilling, IS art, but not even Glenn Gould actually became Bach though he may arguably have played his music more beautifully than Bach himself could have.
So hence the unwelcome eternal question, where are we, where do we go from here?


* This should in no way be viewed as encouragement to go and write new Blues songs as I have sometimes given in to doing. They don't really have that central culturally and chronologically encoded element that allows them to walk the walk imho.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 07:47:55 AM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline CF

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 08:28:28 AM »
This is a really interesting post Phil.
I feel like, for me personally, If all I had to do with my music was play more & more 'accurate' renditions of my pre-war blues heroes then I would be dead in the water. Writing my own songs, mixing my feel for blues & oldtime & ragtime & jazz into my contemporary pop & singer-songwriter stuff is absolutely essential to my existence & my relevancy in the 21st century. Without that side of the coin I think the passion I have for the music of Blind Lemon & Patton & the likes would be misguided & I'd probably play it a lot worse too, if that makes any sense. I greatly enjoy the strong & informed playing of the few who really get pre-war roots music . . . actually, there seems to be more & more souls who can reproduce those sounds coming on 100 yrs after the original recordings . . . but I do find that I often enjoy it more in a certain context. We are none of us the folk artists of our heroes & we never should entertain the desire to be that, I humbly believe. I've never felt comfortable calling myself a 'Blues' artist although I'm known as that by a lot of folks in my community & I will use that title to navigate myself in the contemporary music scene. My goal has been to be a synthesizer of all the music that has touched me, from Motley Crue & the Doors to Neil Young & Leonard Cohen to Curley Weaver & Victoria Spivey & only in that 'original' synthesis am I of any use to anybody & can rightly be proud of what I do.
For someone like yourself who has learned first-hand from the masters I would believe that you would have a different criteria for honesty & success in your music-making.
When I hear twenty-thirty-somethings do spot-on impressions of pre-war music I can be very entertained but I admit that it leaves me ever so cold & I don't fully understand it.
That's my take on the whole sh-bang anyway. 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline yogi

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2013, 11:36:29 AM »
That was a joy to read O'Muck, how thoughtful and unusually well put!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2013, 12:12:06 PM »
Thanks Yogi. And Mike, yes I agree synthesis is the mother of the invention that is the mother of art.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 12:17:06 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Online Johnm

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 04:44:49 PM »
I think you ask some good questions, Phil.  I'm not sure that we're going anywhere as a group.  I think we're all just going to different places.  I find myself less and less interested in referencing what I play to particular renditions from the past--songs, yes, renditions, no.  One of the great things about getting older is that you're entitled to make the musical choices you want to make, and if you've done the listening you should have been doing all along, your choices will be informed by all that you've heard that has preceded you--informed, that is, not in "put your finger there now" sorts of ways, but just in a sense of how things should go and sound.
Another great thing is that people don't have to like everything, however sincerely it has been done, or however good the person was who made it.  That freedom to like or not like music is a beautiful thing.  I hope people will like what I do and "get it", but if they don't, that's okay, too.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 04:47:50 PM by Johnm »

Offline RB

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2013, 07:13:58 PM »
I'm a relative non=participant here and I'm not too good a singer or guitar player, either, so you'll have to believe or not believe what I say based on some other qualifications.  I am over sixty, though, and paid a lot of attention to this music starting about 1965 or so and made some observations then and some since that might pertain. 

One, many of the rural, non-educated, poor African Americans were more musical than their admirers (that included me). Two, all of them had almost certainly heard less music than almost anyone growing up in the 1950's and sixties, and more of what they heard was live music and not recorded, which was another difference.  Three, they put local names into those blues songs: so far as I know I was the first one around here to realize that it was 'more the same' not to sing 'Im going over to Belzoni ...; but to sing 'When I get to Lincoln ... ' (a town near here).  It was a better copy to sing it differently.  Got a good local reputation for doing this.

Your insight that you are now as old as those discovered musicians is not new to me.  I've thought about this before.  Most recently I was watching fine Howling Wolf performances and I knew that he seemed old to me in the late 1960's (not old like House or Sykes, but old nonetheless) and I was clearly comparing him in those films with me, as I am older than he was then.

Not too cogent a note from me, I'll send it anyway.

Offline eric

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2013, 01:40:48 PM »
Quote
So hence the unwelcome eternal question, where are we, where do we go from here?

Dear Mr. O'Muck,

We carry on, sir.  We hold our finger in the dike, resisting the mass pop culture juggernaut.  We carry on, preserving and growing a small garden of musical culture and passing it on to those who have the eyes and ears to recognize its transcendent beauty. :)

--
Eric

Offline blueshome

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2013, 01:50:05 PM »
Perfectly stated Eric!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2013, 04:10:41 PM »
Quote
We carry on, sir.  We hold our finger in the dike, resisting the mass pop culture juggernaut.  We carry on, preserving and growing a small garden of musical culture and passing it on to those who have the eyes and ears to recognize its transcendent beauty.


Yes I suppose thats right. I suppose those who leave comments like the ubiquitous "Thanks for keeping the music alive" are sincere although this music seems quite robustly healthy in its refusal to go away. Calypso on the other hand......
 Let me ask our Brit-O-Weenies a question, does the traditional music of the British Isles receive government support in the form of a rep. company or grants to preservation organizations that put on concert series? Does the government make it their business to see that people who make that music are given a fighting chance at making a living? One can only admire the recent workings of the BBC as they keep a top notch group of actors working CONSTANTLY on a host of innovative  high quality dramatic fare and wonder if someone in the UK is doing the same with trad. music. If not they ought to be.


Wouldn't it be amazing (like truly fucking, miraculous and astounding actually) if something of the kind happened here?


There is an old joke among artists in America (in outrageous John Cleese French Accent) "In Paris they called me an Artiste, here....
they call  me Ass..Hole!"


It pretty much describes the essential, "what does it do for our bottom line" (no pun intended...or not) attitude that dominates the American psyche.
Would government support in the form of concert series and grants to individual musicians be a good thing?
Like this Blues in the Schools thing that some members are involved with. I don't quite know what I think about that. Do we really want this music associated in children's minds with...puke, barf....SCHOOL?!


And what would be the end goal? "Hurry kids were going to Carnegie Hall to hear the entire Cryin' Sam Collins cycle tonight!"?
I don't know...I just don't know....

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Stuart

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2013, 04:29:38 PM »
I don't know either, Phil. If people only knew how to and would take the time to really LISTEN (sorry for raising my voice) with an open mind. Maybe then all great music would be appreciated for what it is.

Regardless of what you thought of the Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS doc, Mick Csaky heard something and then actually acted upon his inspiration.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2013, 10:49:33 PM »
In answer to your question O'Muck... no. The British Gov has never supported music unless is increases tax revenues. They do, however, against their natural impulses, particularly on the right wing, have to allow the BBC to continue to exist. The Beeb's charter goes some way to supporting employing individuals like John Peel (RIP, much missed), and many others who are not inclined to toady-up to the commercial music establishment.

So you can assume it's pretty much like NPR/PBS in the States, the channels are there, and it's just down to individuals with vision and talent socking it to the listening world and raising their own promotional profile.

If the US is lacking in this respect compared to the UK it's clearly due to a lack of vision, passion and communication skills on the part of the vast majority of professional broadcasters that would like us to believe they reside outside the mainstream. Money is apparently more important than artistic motivation.

Throwing more sacks of public money at the aforementioned problem seems to me like a waste of taxpayer dollars and would only make things worse. Just my opinion.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2013, 03:41:39 AM »
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 03:46:16 AM by Prof Scratchy »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2013, 07:50:26 AM »
I'm eager to hear from any of our Scandinavian members as to what kind of support there is for traditional music in your neck of the woods. Any counsel on the preservation of Hardanger Fiddle in Norway for example?


It seems clear that Britain has certainly made a serious investment of late in the Dramatic arts. I mean there's always the Royal Shakespeare Company but I've never seen anything like the constant keeping in work of a substantial group of actors in everything from Downton Abbey to Doctor Who that I've picked up on over the past five years or so. Its almost as if someone high up determined that they were going to create an unofficial BBC television Rep company to insure high quality, and man has it payed off! But just the very idea of that kind of contract, official or not with a group of practicing artists seems unprecedented and incredibly smart. If the government doesn't know about it I hope they never catch on and cut it. It certainly hasn't escaped the notice of my American actor friends who are likely to be heard saying..."Those English sons a bitches are workin' ALL THE TIME! Right before they drag themselves off to the next casting call with someone's twenty five year old niece.


And thanks Prof. I'll have to look at these links carefully. In your opinion are they succeeding in helping the music reach the general public in a viable way?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 07:53:34 AM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline frankie

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2013, 07:52:13 AM »
I barely qualify to comment in this thread, having at 45, only recently received my NJ Geezer Learner's Permit. A Geezer-In-Training, if you will. At this point, I am happy just being able to stretch my own personal musical boundaries. When Music is tired of my presence on the running board, I'm sure it'll shake me off.

I don't know where Music is going, and therefore, where it might take me. The ride, such as it is, is fun. And the company, sublime.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Now We are six....... ummm..... make that Geezers
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2013, 08:58:00 AM »
Quote
And thanks Prof. I'll have to look at these links carefully. In your opinion are they succeeding in helping the music reach the general public in a viable way?
/quote]
Well, we all complain here abut the underfunding of the arts, but at least there is funding to be had. If you look at the range of stuff funded by Creative Scotland, you see everything from festivals, to composers, to arrangers, to instrument makers. So I think that despite the grumbles, we remain lucky here...

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