Vagabond Shoes: New York Snapshots, August 3rd

There was music in the air during the five days we spent in New York at the beginning of July. But first, a visit to Manchester in 1964, courtesy of our friend Rick. He and Liney had taken us to a favourite dive bar (the 169 Bar) on the Lower East Side. It has a leopard-print pool table — that may be all you need to know. We had a great conversation with the bartender, Dakota, about Ross Macdonald, who he was re-reading and had decided was the apex of the knight errant-as-detective genre started by Hammett and carried on by Chandler. Macdonald’s a favourite of mine, so I was willing to entertain this point of view. Rick mentioned a favourite Dion song, “Your Own Back Yard”, about kicking booze and drugs. I say there was a great letter from Dion in the Lou Reed exhibition (see below) and note to listen to the track when I can. I find it on Born to Be with You and a nice live version from Dion’s post-doo-wop career as a Greenwich Village folkster, which I send to Rick. Here’s his story, featuring what may be Britain’s finest street name…

{ONE} A LEVEL BLUES. It’s getting late, but I’ve just listened to the 1971 Dion Bitter End album. Like a Proustian madeleine, it exploded memories. Specifically, Dion’s lovely version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin”: The Twisted Wheel, Brazennose Street, Manchester, maybe 1964, Saturday night; I’d climbed out of my bedroom window to hitchhike into the city centre for the Saturday-night all-nighter — Spencer Davis Group (with Stevie Winwood) and Sonny Boy Williamson. Around 2 a.m. I found myself randomly sitting at the bar (bar — cokes only, which I could hardly afford; when we were thirsty, we used to go across the street on pass-outs to a pub that stayed open all night and was flexible about age laws) next to Sonny Boy Williamson. He was hunched over a coke next to an impossibly glamorous girlfriend in a cheetah-style coat. What I noticed was his beautiful long graceful fingers, and I could hardly speak, awe-struck. We muttered for minutes, and he wandered off to the stage, unimpressed. Then he played (backed by the Spencer Davis Group), and somehow he’d got drunk (must have had his own bottle), so with those lovely long fingers, he beckoned my friend John Lancaster (a wonderful man I used to discuss TS Eliot with and who had the sweetest of all possible girlfriends who worked on a perfume counter in Lewis’s on Market Street, where, about that time, I saw Bobby Charlton buying furniture with his new wife) on stage to support him, and he proceeded to give us a lifetime memory. Those long fingers I shall never forget. And though those all-nighters screwed up my A levels, they made my life. As a friend of mine at the time said when we were rousted by the cops and asked what was going on after an Otis Redding concert: “Otis, man!”


Ricky, plaque, Evan on drums with Frank

{TWO} AS AMERICAN AS MUSIC GETS. We spent the day of July 4 at the best possible place in New York — the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona — on his birthday!* We were greeted by the irrepressible Ricky Riccardi (the Director of Research Collections), seen here holding his Grammy for best album liner notes (for an Armstrong release last year). He’s also holding some original photos of Louis playing a concert in New Orleans in 1952 that were sent to my dad when he edited the British jazz magazine Eureka, which I wanted to donate to the museum. The Armstrong House is about to get a beautiful contemporary museum building opposite so that it can properly display its collections. The big band of the brilliant Evan Sherman played, red beans and rice were served, and the garden concert ended with a pulsating version of “What’s Going On”, sung by trombonist Frank Lacy, in a style reminiscent of the great Ted Hawkins. The house is as it was when the Armstrongs lived in it, and Harvey gave us a brilliant tour. It’s a testament to Lucille’s extraordinary embrace of Louis and his talent — she found the house in the borough where she was raised and gave it to a man who had never had a real home, who had lived mostly in hotels. It was not just a place to rest his head with hers, but a whole community he became a fundamental part of. You can learn lessons about how to live from this modest house and, in Louis’ case, how to turn the love given to you by millions of people outwards, back into the world. It’s there, in Louis and Lucille’s voices as you walk around their house and in all of Louis’ music.

Klein’s designs are top; the page-turning cleverness

{THREE} EINE KLEIN FOTOMUSIK. I always hear music when I look at William Klein’s photos, often something close to a Bernard Herrmann film soundtrack, or a particularly percussive opera, or, in the case of his Moscow photos, a bevy of cimbaloms… pleased to have been in NYC when such a good selection of his work was on show at the International Center of Photography on the Lower East Side. Klein wears his talent lightly, skipping between disciplines while keeping his vision of seething life intact. The show is beautifully staged, with wall-sized prints and clever digital page-turning video tables so you can see his books about cities (which he also designed).

Moscow Book; Fashion; Little Richard; self-portrait

{FOUR} LOU REED: CAUGHT BETWEEN THE TWISTED STARS. New York Public Library at Lincoln Centre. If you are a huge Lou Reed/VU fan, this exhibition of his Archive will blow your mind. As a moderate Lou-O-Phile, it was still stunning. Guitars, lyrics, letters, painting, videos, ephemera, and, just for the completist, a couple of pairs of Lou’s Views, a collaboration with an Italian spectacle designer — the lenses flip up, so Lou wouldn’t have to take his glasses off to read. I love that Mo Tucker called him “Honeybun”… It runs til March 2023. Highly recommended.


{FIVE} PJ CLARKE’S JUKEBOX. Another Rick and Liney pick, it’s an oasis of brick in a desert of glass and steel in midtown; this unreconstructed bar has a unique layout. The men’s restroom is four feet behind the patrons sitting at the counter. Some might call this lazy. Among its rather beautiful original fittings from the 1880s sits a 70s jukebox, with this playlist of the top hits from 1971.** Johnny Mercer wrote “One for My Baby” on a bar napkin here, and Buddy Holly proposed to María Elena Santiago at this 3rd Avenue watering hole five hours after they met. “The Lost Weekend” was written by a regular, Charles Jackson, and a young Frank Sinatra regularly closed the place down at Table #20. The bar wears its history lightly, and the food and the staff are fantastic. We didn’t notice how intense the sun was outside as we looked doorwards from our table, but as we left, we realised that we were witnessing Manhattanhenge, where the setting sun lines up with the crosstown grid, usually twice a summer. It was some walk back to our hotel drenched in this amazing light.


*According to Louis, he was born on July 4, 1900, but records located a couple of decades after his passing found that it was August 4, 1901.

** Three Dog Night were famous for picking great songs by hip songwriters and doing hit-parade-friendly versions (Nilsson’s “One”, Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming”, usually with a good dose of Wurlitzer electric piano). Van Dyke Parks gave them their name: on cold nights, Aboriginal Australians would customarily sleep in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo, a native species of wild dog. On colder nights, they would sleep with two dogs, and if the night were freezing, it was a “three dog night”.

Tuesday, April 27th

Monday, July 6th

April 3rd: Bill Withers, RIP

So sad to hear of the death of Bill Withers, life guide and fine songwriter. Here’s a reprint of a couple of Five Things about Bill.

Bill Withers onstage in 1973.

The things you learn…
Sent on a small Bill Withers journey by The Immortal Jukebox, I came across the interesting tale of his first album on the mix site, written by Barbara Schultz. There’s the fascinating story of Wally Heider’s studio in the piece, which is basically an interview with the great engineer Bill Halverson. And how many articles about recording studios feature the word “soffit”? “Withers was eventually signed to Sussex Records, and the great Booker T. Jones was enlisted to produce the new artist’s debut album, Just as I Am in 1971. Also on the session were two members of the MGs – drummer Al Jackson and bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn – plus singer/songwriter Stephen Stills on guitar. The recordings were made in Wally Heider’s Studio 3, then situated in L.A. at the corner of Cahuenga and Selma. The engineer was Bill Halverson, whose credits at that point included such essential records as Crosby Stills and Nash’s massive self-titled debut, Cream’s Badge, Tom Jones Sings She’s a Lady and CSNY’s Déjà Vu.

“It was Stephen Stills’ studio time that we were using,” Halverson recalls by phone from his home in Nashville. “I was working with Stephen on his first solo record, and he came to me a couple nights before this and said, ‘I’ve got this guy who needs a night of studio time.’ Stephen was hanging with Rita Coolidge, and Booker was marrying [Rita Coolidge’s sister] Priscilla Coolidge, and somehow Booker asked Stephen for some studio time. We just spent the one night.” On Withers’ session, Halverson placed Jackson’s kit near the control room glass, under an overhanging soffit – an emulation of United Western 3 [a fabled room in LA Studio lore — ed] – that held the studio playback speakers. “If you tucked the drums as close as you could under that overhang of the big speakers, you were out in the room but you had really good isolation,” Halverson says.

“When Bill Withers showed up,” Halverson says, “he comes walking in with his guitar and a straight-back chair, like a dining room chair, and asks, ‘Where do I set up?’ I showed him right in the middle of the room, and then he left and he came back in with this platform, a kind of wooden box that didn’t have a bottom. It was about four inches tall, and was maybe 3 foot by 4 foot; it was a fairly large platform, and he set it down in the middle of the room. Then he put his chair on it and got his guitar out, and he’s sitting on top of this box. So I miked him and I miked his guitar, and then I was doing other things – getting sounds together. But then he calls me over and he points down to the box and says, ‘You gotta mike the box.’ Well, the way I was trained, you serve the artist, whatever the artist needs. So I got a couple other mics and I miked the box, the place down near the floor, next to this platform.
 
“And now, when you listen to “Ain’t No Sunshine,” you know that all that tapping that goes on [while Withers sings] ‘I know I know I know’ all through it, actually, that’s him tapping his feet on the box, which is actually more intricate than the guitar on that track. He had evidently rehearsed that in his living room, maybe for years.”

I found the great documentary, Still Bill, directed by Damani Baker and Alex Vlack, complete on YouTube. I wrote a little about it in 2012:

It’s Bill Withers’ World: we just live in it… the Wonderful Still Bill
Everyone is hereby urged to see this fine, fine piece of work, less a music documentary than a meditation on how to live a life. Best human moment: Bill’s visit to an educational project helping kids who stutter (Withers did until the age of 28). Best musical moment: a toss-up between Raul Midón and Bill on the telephone, and at a tribute concert, Bill watching Cornell Dupree glide ’n’ slide through Grandma’s Hands, talent undimmed by illness (even though he has an oxygen tube on). Bill steps onto the stage and sings a verse, but then, as Barney Hoskyns’ wrote: “as if concerned not to upstage the ailing but grinning Dupree—one of soul music’s greatest guitar players—he almost immediately sat down beside him, continuing to sing but deferring to Dupree.” And with his hand resting on Cornell’s knee.

If you haven’t seen it, rectify that omission soon. The Cornell Dupree version of “Grandma’s Hands” is at 1 hr 6 minutes.

Extra! A Christmas Song

Normally, at this point of the year, I’d post a cover of a traditional Christmas song that I like. This year, however, I couldn’t find something that I felt like doing, so I looked through my back catalogue (!) and found something Christmas-centric. Eight years on I finished it off. Featuring David Miles on bass, and a list of the randomest place names I could find (that rhymed), here is “(I’m Trying to Make it) Home for Christmas”.

Baby, I’m writing you, just to tell you that I love you,
And I’m really trying hard to come home for Christmas.
Baby, I’m trav’ling from the Eastside to the West
And it’s a long winter’s march to get back home for Christmas.
… and it’s cold outside

Oh I might be in Kyiv or Tuscumbia
Carmarthen or Nepal
Wherever the hell I am in this world
I’m trying to make it home for Christmas…
I’m trying to make it home for Christmas…

Baby, I’m calling you, just to tell you that I love you,
And I’m really trying hard to come home for Christmas

Well I might be in Dubai or Columbia
Kandahar or St. Paul
Wherever the hell I am on this earth
I’m trying to make it home for Christmas…
I’m trying to make it home for Christmas…

You can find the other Christmas Songs here.

An Interlude: Bill Colyer

The marking of D-Day this year made me think of a trip I took with my dad and some other veterans in 2001 to the beaches of France. We hired a coach and headed to Sword Beach (which stretched from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer), near the town of Caen, the objective for the British 3rd Infantry Division. It was moving to walk and talk our way around a place that had such (still) vivid memories for them. So, thinking of those things, here’s something based on a reading that I gave at Bill’s funeral, about his experiences in the war and his enduring love of music, and those that made it.

Monday, December 24th

A Christmas Song for all the readers of Five Things…


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

“He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

“I’ve been dipping with huge enjoyment since it arrived” – James Walton, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s books quiz, The Write Stuff, and the R4 pop quiz All the Way from Memphis.

Extra! Daniel Kramer’s year with Bob Dylan

Written for Pulp magazine last year.

5-coverBob Dylan: A Year and a Day. Photographs by Daniel Kramer

Edited by Nina Wiener / Art Direction by Josh Baker / Design by Jess Sappenfield
Published by Taschen, hardcover in a clamshell box, edition of 1,965 (cute!)

“In retrospect, it’s clear that Bob was in the process of winding up a very large spring. I didn’t know then 
how much of that spring would be let loose in the coming months.” – Daniel Kramer

On July 20th 1965, Bob Dylan, the star of the Greenwich Village Folk Boom, exploded onto the pop charts. America’s first modern singer-songwriter, Dylan, in the six minutes and thirteen seconds that it took for the epochal “Like a Rolling Stone” to be debuted on US radio, virtually created grown-up rock music. But Dylan’s spectacular reinvention of himself and his music had not just happened overnight – it had been brewing for a while. At the beginning of this astonishing, game-changing period – the like of which had previously been the preserve of fine artists such as Matisse and Picasso – photographer Daniel Kramer found himself, through a mixture of talent, persistence and chance, in the position of recording the highs of an extraordinary year in the life of Bob Dylan.

Having first seen Dylan on Steve Allen’s variety show in February, 1964 (“It was the kind of sound I always liked. It reminded me of a voice from the hills… like a voice that had been left out in the rain and rusted…”) Kramer decided that he had to photograph this performer who was brave enough to play songs about social injustice on a mainstream tv show. He called Dylan’s management: “Naturally I was told Mr Dylan was not available. And so it went. I would call, and they would say no.” Eventually, Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, picked up the phone. “By this time he knew why I was calling. I convinced him that I was a reasonable, completely sane, published, professional photographer. I was caught by surprise when his almost immediate answer was, Okay, come up to Woodstock next Thursday. You can have an hour. Just like that… just like that!”

5-dylanbook2

So Kramer drove two hours north of New York City on a bright August morning and spent the day following the 23-year-old musician as he read newspapers, played chess, and hung out with Sally Grossman (Albert’s wife) and his own wife-to-be, Sara Lownds. In the early Sixties, Woodstock was still a sleepy burg, a place where Dylan could keep the increasing intensity of life in New York at bay. The pictures are winningly relaxed and goofy, Dylan obviously finding Kramer a copacetic presence, and from that simple beginning, Kramer found himself photographing Dylan on thirty occasions over the next 365 days.

Kramer had come to photography early, aged 14, and later fell into a job working as an assistant at the studio of the fashion photographer Allan Arbus. “His wife, Diane Arbus, also did her darkroom work there – it turned out to be more than just a job. From Allan I learned to manage a studio, work with models, and run the business – and from Diane, I learned to open my eyes a bit wider, to think about my pictures in new ways.” His next gig was assisting Philippe Halsman, legendary Life magazine cover photographer. “From Philippe, I learned how to make light do your bidding, instead of the other way around, and how to choose a decent wine – and that photography could be a great adventure and a pathway to the whole world.”

5-dylanbook.jpg

From Kramer’s fascinating recollections in the accompanying text, we find that he becomes one of Dylan’s travelling companions. In this role, he’s given both space and time to produce meaningful work. It’s a hallmark of Dylan’s relationships with the producers, musicians and photographers who come into his orbit – once they are admitted, they are allowed to bring their vision with them. Only Alfred Wertheimer on his trips around the country with a young Elvis Presley had such access to a popular star, with similar results – to show the nuts and bolts of the music business and lift the veil at the moment that the cultural plates were shifting.

Listen to any of the session tapes of recent release The Cutting Edge (every single note of music Dylan recorded, complete with false starts and unused takes, throughout 1965, the year of Kramer’s book) and you’ll find that Dylan’s moulding of what’s happening is subtle and understated, only occasionally direct and demanding. And if you met his approval, his world was your oyster. Kramer takes full advantage, producing classic black-and-white reportage backstage, onstage, in cars and cafes.

The book, beautifully laid out, is broken into sections (Woodstock / Town Hall / In the Studio / Bob & Joan / Early ’65 / Forest Hills) by lyrics letterpressed onto heavy matt paper, with Kramer’s excellent narrative set in typewriter, an era-specific evocation of the prevailing technology of the time.

5-dylan2

The sheer size of the book lets you feel that you’re at a really well-curated exhibition, one where the scaling and sequencing of the images are perfectly judged. The detail drawn out of the gorgeous grain of the 35mm Kodak Tri-X film that Kramer used is wonderful, and the book is a much more satisfying way to see these photographs than as individual prints in a gallery.

The colour film that Kramer shot of Dylan, the cover session for Bringing It All Back Home, one of the two albums he would release in 1965 (the other, Highway 61 Revisited, also had a cover shot by Kramer) sits happily at the centre of the book, in a section called “Intermission”. Kramer’s studio shoots (including a meeting at Kramer’s New York studio that would provide the cover for Dylan’s first book, Tarantula) give a break between the reportage either side and show that his earlier experiences in the studio with Arbus and Halsman served him well.

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But first, he needed the persuasive techniques of Bob’s manager to make these shoots happen. After Columbia’s art director, John Berg, refuses to commission the (as he saw it) inexperienced Kramer to shoot the cover of Bringing It All Back Home, Grossman intervenes. “Mr Grossman took us [Dylan and Kramer] to the art director’s office, where he proceeded to make a series of predictions of what bad things would happen [to Berg] if I did not get this assignment.”

Having been present at the recording sessions, Kramer knew that he had to deliver something that related to Dylan’s new direction – and a technique he was working on for a fashion shoot with his 4×5 view camera seemed perfect. It enabled him to make “multiple exposures on one sheet of film while moving, blurring, or keeping sharp parts of any single exposure”, a world away from the fly-on-the-wall 35mm reportage that Kramer had been shooting up to this point.

Arranging Dylan in a room set at Grossman’s Woodstock house, with Sally Grossman draped decoratively on a sofa, Kramer adds elements to make his technique work. “We scoured the house and basement to find things to put in the picture so there would be things to ‘move’ when the camera back was revolved. I wanted to say that Bob Dylan was less a folksinger and more a prince of music. So there in the centre of the turning record is Bob Dylan without an instrument, in this beautiful room, seated with a beautiful woman in a red dress… we were lucky to get one exposure with the cat looking into my lens.” Kramer can’t resist telling us that he and John Berg were nominated for a Grammy Award for best album cover photograph…

5-dylan4

Around this time, a new Dylan snaps into view, as the pages turn from images of joking around with old friends to those of Dylan with an early hero, Johnny Cash. Dylan is about to play one of his last acoustic shows and has morphed from the chubby-faced Chaplinesque troubadour to a more angular and focused presence. Over dinner with Cash, he seems to be burning with a particular intensity, fixing Dan Kramer and Cash both with a piercing gaze.

The next stage is about to begin in earnest, and it will lead to the alienation of Dylan’s loyal fanbase. His artistic horizons are widening to take in Pop Art and filmmaking – from Greenwich Village to the Warhol factory was only a matter of a few downtown NY blocks, but in 1965 it was an artistic chasm. On one side, the gruesomely authentic folksters, on the other, the achingly hip (yet blatantly commercial) scenesters. As Dylan moved inexorably across from one to the other, the air was thick with cries of Sell Out! and worse. Kramer finds himself shooting from the inside out.

A show at Forest Hills with electric backing will plunge Dylan into a maelstrom that the world of rock has rarely seen, as a performer’s desire to follow his muse sees him branded a Judas and pelted with objects. Visually, Dylan’s look begins to assume the sharp outlines of an icon – even in a close-field blur, with Albert Grossman far away in the stands of the Forest Hills stadium, Dylan is instantly recognisable, entering the period where he would be drawn by Milton Glaser as a rainbow-headed visualisation of the grooviness and excitement of the middle sixties.

5-dylan forest

And that concert signals the end of Kramer’s travels with Bob. The last shots are of Dylan at one remove from his audience, backlit by blinding spotlights as someone invades the stage, chased by cops. A tour of the US and Europe awaits Dylan, his world accelerating until it culminates in a motorcycle accident that will remove him from the public glare for the following years.

Daniel Kramer moves onto a long and successful career straddling editorial, advertising and motion-picture work, and never photographs Dylan again. And Dylan? Well, he’s still “on the road, heading to another joint…”, not stopping long enough to be pinned down. But we, luckily, have this epic production to linger over, reliving that remarkable year when the times were truly changing.

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full 5 Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.

The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. He also comes at the subject from an entirely personal, slightly sideways perspective, with no agenda and no product to sell. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.”

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.”

Extra! Protest Songs No.2: “The Danger Zone”

Songwriter and singer Percy Mayfield was a scribe for the loveless and lost, but also for the man railing against the possibility of Armageddon. Even in the most plaintive and beautiful lovesick ballad, his apocalyptic bent creeps in. Here’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love”:
“Show the world how to get along
Peace will enter, when hate is gone
But if it’s not asking too much
Please send me someone to love…”

“River’s Invitation” conjoins his missing sweetheart with thoughts of suicide:
“I spoke to the river
And the river spoke back to me
It said man you look so lonely
You look full of misery
And if you can’t find your baby
Come and make your home with me”

Even a visit home was no fun. “Stranger in My Own Hometown”, cut famously by Elvis, finds the singer bemoaning his lot…
“I came home with good intentions
About 5 or 6 years ago
But my hometown won’t accept me
Just don’t feel welcome here no more…”

5-percymayfield

His most famous song was for his mentor, Ray Charles – “Hit the Road, Jack” was a monster hit in 1961. But on the B-Side, cut at the same session, was “The Danger Zone”, blessed with one of Ray’s greatest ever performances. Here’s a lovely piece about the song, and its relation to Leonard Cohen’s “Almost Like the Blues”, at thebluemoment.

5-dangerzone

Its refrain has been running around my head for the last few months, to the point where I had to record a version of it. So forgive me the gall. Here it is. [removed for remixing]

 

 

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full 5 Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.

 

Extra! All best for the holiday season…

rushingxmas

Next week, before the year ends, I’ll attempt to write about Josh Ritter at Shepherds Bush Empire (stunningly good), the American Pie Classic Albums on BBC4 (no Rob Stoner, not enough Paul Griffin), David Lynch’s Twin Peaks scene sountracked by Otis, and Guitarmaggedon (Matt Umanov’s on Bleeker Street closing, guitar sales down).

This week, though, a Christmas card from Jimmy Rushing and family, sent to my dad in the late 50s, and my take on another* Christina Rosetti Christmas song. Apologies for the unmixed state of it, but you know Christmas and deadlines… Thanks for reading over the past year, and best wishes to all.

 

* A couple of years ago I recorded “In the Bleak Midwinter” as an eight-minute soundscape. using the Teisco Baritone guitar that I had recently acquired [you can listen to it here]. The bari is back this year, wrestling with twitchy drummers and a ghostly choir (thanks, Mimosa!).

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