Monday, February 01, 2010

Into the Void

Back around 1970, we came across a record album called The Yellow Princess, by John Fahey. Fahey pioneered odd, open tunings and a weird style of primitive guitar playing that wasn't like anything I had ever heard. The cuts had titles like, "Dance of the Inhabitants of the Invisible City of Bladensburg," and "View (East from the Top of the Riggs Road/B & O Trestle)," and one of them, "The Singing Bridge of Memphis, Tennessee," was the most incredible thing to listen to stoned you can imagine.

We bought more of his albums, and years later when we moved to Portland, discovered that he lived in Eugene, and would sometimes play locally. We saw him do a show at Earthquake Ethel's, in Beaverton, probably about 1979 or so. While he was playing, he drank an entire pitcher of beer, and it was pretty incredible to listen to and watch.

We saw him play another show shortly before he passed away in 2001, and he was not at his best. The years and substances had taken their toll. But when I saw this video, I had to link to it.


Shady_Grady said...

Steve, have you heard Elizabeth Cotten or Etta Baker?

Steve Perry said...

Both -- but only on really old records.

And there was a PBS special a while back on roots music that had a piece on Cotton -- whose guitar style was really weird and came to be known as ... Cotton picking ...

Shady_Grady said...

Cool! Etta Baker has just passed on of course but a little over 4 or 5 years ago she did two CD's-one with Taj Mahal and one with her sister Cora Phillips, both of which are magnificent with excellent production. You can find them on Amazon if you're interested.

I love Cotten. To be able to do the things she did and do them left-handed is really amazing to me.