GORDON LIGHTFOOT: A TRUE KNIGHT UPON THE ROAD
A PREVIEW OF THE SABAN THEATRE CONCERT - SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
Gordon Lightfoot almost lost his life in 2002 when his abdominal artery burst and he was in a coma for six weeks following the surgery that saved his life. When he finally and almost miraculously woke up he could barely play the guitar and his vocal chords were so constricted his golden voice was no more. That’s when a lifetime work ethic kicked in and literally pulled him back from the dead. Talk about a ribbon of darkness over me—this was the true crossroads and test of artistic character that he passed with flying colors.
Lightfoot started to practice guitar again like there was no tomorrow—which there almost was not—until he even surpassed his previous skill-level on the instrument that defined his sound from the early 1960s on—when he helped to create the folk revival on the entire North American continent—both his native Canada and his adopted homeland America. When others who cherished his work and recorded his imperishable songs—including Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins and fellow Canadian Neil Young—drifted into folk rock or country rock, Gordon Lightfoot stayed true to his folk roots and never put his finger into the wind to find out what the marketplace wanted to hear. That personal certitude of an inner vision and voice is what has endeared him to fans around the world for more than fifty years. It is what has kept his music timeless as the ancient ballads and current as today’s newspaper.
NEXT FOLKWORKS CONCERT
Saturday, September 27th
8:00pm doors open at 7:00pm
(food will be available)
newly renovated Talking Stick Cafe
1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
at Lincoln and California St. in corner behind Pollo Loco
Parking available behind or in Ross Dress For Less parking lot.
General Admission: $18
FolkWorks members (Friend and above) – reserved seating: $16
Online: Nevenka Concert Tickets
By Mail: FolkWorks PO Box 55051, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413
Information: 818-785-3839 concerts@FolkWorks.org
FINAL 2014 Concert
(Click on hyperlink for tickets)
Series at the Talking Stick Café
1411 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
SYNCOPATHS October 25th
REMEMBERING JEAN REDPATH:
THE VOICE OF SCOTLAND
APRIL 28 1937 – AUGUST 21 2014
In the dead of winter in 1961 a brilliant young folk singer from the North Country blew into Greenwich Village and caught the eye of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Dave Van Ronk—even sharing their village flat—and the ear of Mike Porco at Gerdes Folk City—who was booking the best and the brightest for his growing clientele of folk music fans—at the behest of the Folklore Center’s Izzy Young next door; a young Bob Dylan, from Hibbing, Minnesota?
Wrong gender; wrong city, wrong country; wrong folk singer; she was Jean Redpath—all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland—who shared an apartment with Dylan that first fateful “coldest winter in 17 years” when together they redrew the map of American folk music. Thirty-six years later, in 1997s Time Out of Mind, Dylan opened a window onto this early relationship with his long rhapsodic love song, Highlands, inspired by Robert Burns’ song My Heart’s In the Highlands, where he avowed his heart still belonged:
WHERE HAVE ALL THE VENUES GONE, LONG TIME PASSING…
Got an email from a young lady that books music for a pizza place. One of the bands I play with performed regularly there in the last couple of years. She had bad news: instead of a couple more dates before the end of the year, she let us know that the venue was dropping live music. Too bad, I liked the place, it paid fairly well and we drew good sized crowds because it was a ways from our “usual territory.” Certainly not the first venue to close up shop, nor the last. At least it wasn’t like that scene in Paul Simon’s actually quite excellent movie One Trick Pony where the band pulls up to the venue only to find it’s out of business. Sad but true, venues go out of business. Owners change. Live music is dropped.
TITLE: AMY HANAIALI’I AND SLACK KEY MASTERS OF HAWAII
LABEL: PETERSON PRODUCTIONS
I took one look at the cover of this CD and concluded that it was a shoe-in for the 2011 Grammy for Best Hawaiian Music Album. After five years of awarding it to compilations of slack key guitar music, the mucky-mucks could enjoy a refreshing twist on their love affair with slack key. Celebrated vocalist, Amy Hanaiali’i, who has lost out to slack key at the Grammies more than once, had teamed up with five masters of the beloved guitar tradition: Cyril Pahinui, Sonny Lim, Dennis Kamakahi, Jeff Peterson, and Chino Montero. It’s a dazzling collaboration and thoroughly enjoyable listening. Did it win the Grammy? No! This year the award for Best Hawaiian album went to a vocalist of more limited gifts than Amy and no hint of slack key guitar on the cover. Go figure! We move on...
Although it was recorded in a studio, Amy Hanaiali’i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii has the flavor of a live concert. The musicians each get a turn being center stage, accompanying Amy, in some cases singing with her or playing slack key with one another. Not only do they display their gifts as musicians; in some cases, they showcase their own compositions.
Prolific Dennis Kamakahi sings his delightful country-style E Mau Ke Aloha in Hawaiian and English, accompanying himself on guitar with room for a guitar solo by Chino Montero. Kamakahi shines as a slack key guitarist and vocalist, his deep rich voice combining with Amy’s in a poignant song composed by Queen Kapi’olani in the late 19th century Ipo Lei Manu.
Cyril Pahinui is keeper of the slack key tradition that his father, Gabby “Pops” Pahinui revitalized and popularized. Cyril shares vocals and plays guitar in a trademark Pahinui number, Hi’ilawe with Jeff Peterson adding his own slack key sound to enrich the accompaniment. Pahinui does a lively interpretation of Miloli’i on vocals and guitar with Sonny Lim spicing up the song with well-chosen steel guitar enhancements.
Amy sings her own composition Keawa Nui with loving attention to the art of falsetto that makes it clear why the mantles of falsetto greats Lena Machado and recently-passed Genoa Keawe have easily remained on her shoulders. A ukulele solo by Jeff Peterson kicks it up a notch.
Chino Montero gets to demonstrate his male falsetto singing and solid slack key technique in Makee ‘Ailana. Dennis Kamakahi plays one of the two slack key solos in this number, enlivening it with a contrasting style. I confess I have not followed Montero’s career as I have the other participants in this album, but I think he performs at a level that is harmonious with his peers.
An all-instrumental number, Vaqueros, brings together composer Sonny Lim with Montero and Jeff Peterson for a flamenco-flavored hats-off to the cowboys who brought the guitar to Hawaii.
I would be negligent if I did not mention the way Jeff Peterson’s talents permeate this album. No fewer than six of the sixteen cuts feature his compositions. My favorite is Pukana La on which he plays solo. He creates an otherworldly feeling with unusual chord progressions, sweet-voiced picking, and sensitive rubato. We also hear Peterson’s eclectic musicianship on eleven of the numbers, mainly slack key but also including classical guitar on Vaqueros and ukulele in Keawa Nui.
In the end, this is still Amy’s album. She opens with Fields of Gold by Sting, bringing to it heartrending nuances. Nevertheless, I find the song a strange choice for an album in which she and her friends otherwise celebrate Hawaiian culture and landscape. The mention of “fields of barley” made me wince despite the added Hawaiian lyrics. Do they even grow barley in Hawaii? Shouldn’t it be “through ponds of taro (traditional Hawaiian staple crop) or to use the old Hawaiian word kalo? Hmmm. The trouble is those ponds have you thigh deep in mud. I’ve been there. As we trudge through the sludge-ponds of kalo? Definitely not as romantic as barley fields. Enough! It’s a great album!
Audrey Coleman is a journalist, educator, and passionate explorer of traditional and world music.