Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, July 25, 2005


. . . will be 72 some time next month. My son and I saw him at the Vancouver Folk Music Fest 8 days ago. The man can play -- lots of things. Lovely quills (a/k/a panpipes, a traditional pre-blues African American instrument to which the flute solo on Canned Heat's "Goin' Up the Country" pays homage) while playing fine guitar; fine blues harmonica; beautiful banjo, including a fretless gut-stringed gourd banjo possibly very like the instrument that African slaves would have played upon first arriving in America 300 or 400 years ago -- he played a blues on it and it sounded like a guimbri; and a lovely autoharp on which he picked melodies. Nice singer too. Very scholarly approach, as if trying to play the songs just as he first heard them, similar in approach to a set I once saw 20 years ago or so by the pianist and Jelly Roll Morton scholar James Dapogny, who played beautiful versions of Morton tunes as close to note-for-note as he could get them. He comes by his scholarliness honestly: His father Charles was one of the founders of ethnomusicology, and many new music enthusiasts consider it a tragedy that his mother Ruth gave up a career as a composer to join her husband's work as a folklorist. (I've never heard her music, and now, since I mentioned it, I must.)

My son is a fan of Woody Guthrie and Mike's half-brother Pete Seeger, and his ears pricked up when Mike Seeger said, "I first got the idea to learn this song when I heard a home recording of it my brother Pete made with Woody Guthrie in 1940."

My son said, "He said Pete! He said Woody!"

After the Folk Music Fest we took a day cruising the Vancouver museums, then took a ferry to the Island for 5 days of car camping. The 2-year-old did better than I expected with the road trippin', and we had a great time. I'd love to say more about it, but just right now we need groceries.
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