Fred A Levy Haskell (fredcritter) wrote,
Fred A Levy Haskell

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Showering with Starstraf

From starstraf.

1. You get to arrange a music party with 6-12 musicians in addition to yourself, who is there?

Jerry Garcia, Steve Goodman, Jethro Burns, David Grisman, Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelly, Richard Thompson, Gene Krupa, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Lionel Hampton, and Sachmo. I’d probably lay out a lot.

If you’re asking for something that might actually be possible, hmmmmmm. Remember that since I’m unable to play along with other people’s songs, my choice of participants is based on who I most enjoy listening to. So: Reed Waller, Bob Berlien, Emma Bull, Steve Brust, Steve Leigh, Steve Macdonald, Steve Nate Bucklin, Dave Clement, Robbin Anders, Joe Haldeman, Gary Schulte, and Chas Somdahl. (The “close seconds” are Becca Allen, Kurt Griesemer, and, of late, David Perry). I guess. Off the top of my head. At this moment. Oh, and let’s throw in some fine folks to provide good audience, eh?

2. For me as an audience member certain songs are associated with certain musicians, and it just seems odd if someone else plays them. Do you have the same thing with certain audience members, and a song just isn’t the same without a certain person there?

It’s not that there are songs which “just aren’t the same,” but there are definitely those which have an extra kick if a certain person is around. “Dixie Chicken” and you, for example. “Red Dancing Shoes” and Gavi. “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and any woman whose pants I’m hoping to get into. “All Along the Watchtower” and Mr. Brust (maybe that doesn’t count, though, since what he adds is musician, not audience). Probably some others, but those are the ones which come to mind at the moment.

3. You have a time travel machine and tickets to see one concert. What concert do you pick?


Or maybe Montery Pop.

Okay, if those are disallowed, Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, January 16, 1938.

Some other candidates would be a good Hendrix concert on a night when he wasn’t having equipment problems (if there ever was such a thing); a really hot night with Chick Webb at the Savoy; one of the Acid Tests; the premiere of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; and one or both of the two Grateful Dead shows at the Labor Temple in Minneapolis in 1969 I was at but wasn’t able to appreciate as much as I would now ’cause it was all “Anthem of the Sun” type density and I didn’t understand it just yet. I also would very much enjoy revisiting almost any of the Mother Goose Band shows I was at, since memory fades and just doesn’t do them justice. Oh … and many of the concerts I attended at the Guthrie in the late 60’s, for much the same reasons.

4. How did you end up playing 12 string instead of 6 string like others?

The quick, true, and useless answer is “I don’t remember exactly.”

However, I’ll try to sketch a short version of what I can remember, or reconstruct, or something….

I started out on a 6-string, just like a normal person. It was in, oh, I dunno, the very late 50’s. I had a cute little Gibson guitar. Some time in the mid-60’s I decided I wanted a 12-string as well. I honestly can’t remember why exactly. I think some of the “folk” music of the time had some nice fat 12-string accompaniment — “Walk Right In” by, um, the Rooftop Singers?, comes immediately to mind, as does, gosh, maybe some songs by the Association, the New Main Street Singers, and one of those “British Invasion” groups … Chad and Jeremy?. And some others. The Byrds might well have added an extra push too. My father knew somebody at a campus tobacconist and music store, and I got a “deal” on a Crown 12-string, which was an inexpensive … no … cheaply-made Japanese guitar.

<Many moons pass. Buffalo cross Great Plains….>

In the mid- to late-70’s I was travelling around the country and I spent some time in San Franciso. You know how Tony Bennet left his heart in San Francisco? Well I left my guitars in San Franciso.

Got to Seattle. Decided to replace the 12-string first, for one reason and another. Thought I wanted a Guild for its full, rich sound, but the only 12-string Guild in the whole Seattle/Tacoma area had like a hole knocked in the front. They said they could fix it (and no doubt did and eventually sold it to somebody), but I was both dubious of the efficacy of a repair and anxious to start playing again right away.

Another music store just a few blocks from Jerry & Suzle’s (where I was staying) had a 12-string Martin for sale. It didn’t have as big and deep a sound as I thought I wanted, and I’d heard the usual rap about how “Martins aren’t what they used to be, they’re just riding on their reputation” and stuff, but it was real easy to play and real comfortable. I waffled for about a week, running around the area looking in all the music stores I could find for another good 12-string, but I kept coming back to that one. It cost a little more than I wanted to spend, but it was a really nice guitar. It was a little quieter than I thought I wanted, but it was a really nice guitar. Its sound was a little lighter in the bottom than I thought I wanted, but it was a really nice guitar. And it was available. And it was a really nice guitar. So I bought it. I haven’t regretted it yet.

At the time I thought I’d eventually replace the 6-string as well, but at some point I realized that my 12-string really does pretty much everything I want it to — the songs I had thought required a 6-string didn’t really; they just required a good guitar.

And, believe it or not, that’s the short version of the story.

5. You can take 3 traits from people you know and instill them in Gavi - what are they?

Gee, I don’t know. Gavi’s mostly perfect just as she is. Hmmmm. Okay, well, how about Gene Wolfe’s depth of scholarship and cyclopedic knowledge, Geri Sullivan’s infectious enthusiasm, and Kurt Griesemer’s ability to admit it when he’s wrong.

EDIT 2/26: I almost forgot to mention the flip-side of that question! The traits I sincerely hope Gavi doesn’t end up with are her old man’s chronic depression and attention deficit. :P


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