Tim Fox (timfox) Sat 18 Oct 03 09:43
Buddy Bolden was new to me.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 09:44
And thank you for inviting me, David. This is turning out to be very interesting and fun. I've been interviewed on the radio a number of times now for the book, but I'm getting some questions I've never heard before.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 09:48
Playing the music was very fun and VERY challenging, David. Some of these were tough tunes to play, and we were all discovering and creating our parts as we went along. But, as I stated in another post, we were not talking about the fact that we were creating a new style of music. We were just pickin' hard, and taking the playing and the music very seriously. It was a very creative enterprise for us all.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 09:51
Yeah, alcohol can bring a tall man down, if that's what you are referring to, Tim.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 18 Oct 03 09:52
That's what I figured, Bill. Given what Grisman had done in his previous incarnation with the Great American String Band, it seemed like a natural progression. And it wasn't all marketed and positioned and all that -- it just WORKED. If I recall correctly, the DGQ debuted with a radio broadcast from the Greta American Musical Hall.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:01
Yes, and Buddy Bolden is new to most folks, probably because he made his mark so long ago, AND was never recorded. That fascinated me. The jazz world is able to point to this man and his music and say "that was the first jazz man, that was the first jazz music," even though we don't know what he sounded like and his music, back then, was not called "jazz." That's trust. There's a good chunk about Buddy in the Ken Burns Jazz documentary, must be reel 1 or 2. Buddy's biography is a must-read for jazz fans: "In Search of Buddy Bolden, First Man of Jazz," by Donald Marquis. I've had a few late-night conversations with Mr. Marquis about Buddy. In the background I could always hear what I thought was the tinkling of ice in a drink. As Marquis is from New Orleans, I felt free to imagine it was bourbon on the rocks. Marquis wrote the book just in time and had access to people who personally knew Buddy. Interestingly, Wynton Marsalis, in the Burns documentary, refers to Buddy as a "dark-skinned Negro," whereas Marquis says folks who knew Buddy referred to him as a "light-skinned Negro." There is only one known photo of Buddy.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:04
Hmmm. Their first gig was in Bolinas, where I was living at the time, on January 31, 1976. Although we played the Great American Music Hall a number of times, I can't recall a live broadcast, although that certainly is possible. I'd love to hear it if its still around.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:08
Yes, that ol' boy really knew his piano, and had much to teach. Bassists share that secret of pleasure, don't we Kurt, the pleasure of playing the bass. All instruments can be heard, but the bass player can also feel his instrument when he plays it. And it is a deep feeling.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:25
"It's great to see good writing from a musician's perspective. It's not that easy to find." That's very kind of you David. Thank you so much. I got my start on the bass in another, well-worn way: I played violin from the age of 5 or so. When I went to junior high, the orchestra had no bassist. The conductor turned to me and told me that I had the largest hands of all the violinists there, and how would I like to play bass. I said sure I'd try it, and loved it immediately. Never got to thank that guy though. Thanks Cecil Cross, wherever you are. As to what makes a great player: The greats that I know all started picking at a very early age, single digits. Moreover they distinguished themselves very early and were all recording before they reached the age of twenty. Also, they are all constantly picking. Every time I'd go to Tony Rice's house (Tee is certainly one of the greatest pickers I've ever played with) he would come to the door with a guitar strapped on. Call him on the phone, he'd be picking while he talked to you. Sit down at home with him for a conversation, and he'd strap on the Martin and start playing. He was constantly with the guitar. Moreover, Tony knows the mechanics, construction and use of the guitar very deeply. How he uses a capo, and what capo he uses, are a lesson right there. 99% of guitarists use the wrong kind of capo, and don't know how to use the capo. Tee does. He could talk to you for an hour about the tortoiseshell pick, how they're made, and how to shape on to your needs exactly. Finally, I think the great players are great listeners. I have always felt that the guys in the David Grisman Quintet were terrific listeners, and that is one reason the band went so far. "Ears like a jackass" as one of my teachers once quipped.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:32
Yes! to the "great listeners" observation!!
Berliner (captward) Sat 18 Oct 03 10:48
I'm going on record as having been totally unsurprised at the writing skill Bill showed in this book. I was his editor at Rolling Stone in 1970, and it's extremely rare to find someone, whether a musician or not, who knows his way around music *and* a typewriter. (Well, we used typewriters back then. Y'all can ask your granddad what it was). Most artists, of whatever sort, tend to be awful writers, particularly on the field in which they operate. I think photographers are the worst I've yet encountered, but musicians come pretty close. And most writers never bother to find out much about music, even if they write about it, from the inside. Now, I play a couple of instruments badly enough that I think there are laws in most states against my playing in public, but at least I know what the mechanical things I can't do are. Bill, to an editor at a music magazine, was a dream come true. Too bad he felt he had to follow a career as a bassist! Or, well, so I thought til that first Grisman album came in the mail.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 18 Oct 03 11:02
And what Rik said about the cover of that DGQ record: just a lovely photo of the instruments.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 11:20
Hello Ed Ward! How very nice to hear from you after all these years. And it is great to hear your commentaries on NPR as a rock historian. You've opened my eyes to groups and performers whose stories I had been unaware of. Thanks for all you've done for music and music writing through the years. And thank you for your very kind words about my writing. It was at Rolling Stone, working for you, that I had a revelation. I was interviewing Aretha, and I thought, "I'm on the wrong side of the notepad here, the wrong side of the tape recorder. Let's get back to playing." Which I did. Now, thirty plus years later, I've reintegrated writing into my life (and editing and publishing) and I love that again. But I will play music probably until I die. Thanks for checking in Ed. Wonderful to hear from you again.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 11:23
Yes. At first I thought the guys should be on the cover. But then I saw the photo of the instruments and I saw it was make a great cover.
I yam what I yam (nboy) Sat 18 Oct 03 16:11
Hello, Ned Boynton checking in. Thank you for the book. I have enjoyed the stories and I am enjoying the conversation.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 16:29
Hello Ned Boynton, and thanks for saying howdy. Glad you're enjoying the book.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 18 Oct 03 17:14
Those who are reeading this on the web are invited to send questions and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post them.
John Ross (johnross) Sat 18 Oct 03 18:42
I haven't yet read the book, so I don't know the details of the PP&M story. Is it related to the, um... interesting reputation that Ms Travers had among other regulars in the 1950's Greenwich Village folk scene, some years before PP&M was assembled? Seems to me I remember hearing a parody of "T for Texas" called "T for Travers" that came out of that era and place.
alla bout image and not music (kurtr) Sat 18 Oct 03 20:16
Hi Bill - major slippage, but in response to where do I have a steady gig - go to http://www.ribak.com/gigs.html Also I play at Prima out in Walnut Creek on Fridays, leading my own group. Back to your regularly scheduled topic. Count me as one of the folks who thought Linger on the Half Tones was the most haunting of the stories.
steve (albion) Sat 18 Oct 03 22:06
I liked your descriptions of the feel of the instrument in "I Love the Bass" and Buell's explanation of how an old, well built bass "opens up like a well aged wine". There was a duo, piano and upright bass, playing at the place we went to last night. Ellington and Armstrong material. I was quite focused on the bass players hands. After their set I gravitated toward the bass player and asked him lots of questions about his instrument. What's the history? How old is it? How do you care for it? He asked if I was a bass player. I told him about the book and how I had just read about the importance of these things. He and his partner talked about playing jazz music to groups of school children and summer campers and being astounded at their acceptance and appreciation of the music. They weren't getting paid for those appearances. It was obvious from their joy that they were getting something more.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 23:53
<43> I don't know about this alleged reputation of Mary's. And never heard of the "T for Travers" parody. Enlighten us, please, John.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sat 18 Oct 03 23:55
<44> Thanks, Mr. bass man. Sometimes I think there's a musical in "Linger on the Halftones," but I'd have to dig it out myself I guess.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sun 19 Oct 03 00:02
<45> Hi Steve. There are many factors that go into making a gig "worth it," and only one of them is pay. The reward of playing the gig -- the music -- the musicians you're playing with, the place, the event, the cause, ... all factor in. Mel Bay, the publisher of hundreds of music instructional books, was quoted as having said to Pete Seeger: "It's not how well you play, it's how much you enjoy it." If the gig is enjoyable enough, as it appears to be for the two guys you met, then that can be more than enough compensation.
Howard Levine (hll) Sun 19 Oct 03 06:08
Hi Bill - Thanks for the book and the music. I was really touched by the stories about the WWI vets at the cemetary. How music and war can be intertwined is a dichotomy that is difficult to comprehend from afar.
Bill Amatneek (billamatneek) Sun 19 Oct 03 11:43
<49> Thanks Howard. Only some folks mention that story as their favorite in the book -- some say it is not a music story -- but the day itself was deeply moving to me. Those vets could show you the spot of earth they landed on when they parachuted in, the rock they were crouching by when they were shot. They were totally alive during the war. And there was Bill Millin, fergoshsakes, a guy who is truly a legend, carrying his pipes, looking hale and hearty. I'm so glad I got a good photo of him. The news photo of him marching Sword beach, skirling his pipes, in a dark hale, a dense black cloud of exploding shells, is, to this day, an amazing photo to encounter. That Millin never took a hit that day (though his bagpipes did, and had to be operated on at the local infirmary) is hard to believe. It's interesting, I remember about everything that every vet said to me that day, word for word. It was a totally alive day for me as well. On Airborne Day, June 5th, when the vets and the young soldiers did a massive parachute jump over a few parts of France, there was a bit of a contoversy. The vets, who averaged 70 years of age, insisted on jumping first. Wisely, the young soldiers said they should go first, so that wind conditions on the way down, and more importantly near the ground, could be tested for direction, strength, safety. The vets won the day and got to jump first. One of them was badly banged up in the process but loved the jump anyway and didn't regret it at all. The vets were reliving this most meaningful time of their lives, I think, and dismissed any tendency to be treated as old. After the drooping of the colors ceremony, a couple of English vets approached me. I had been tearful through most of the ceremony and they allowed how I was too young to have been in the war. Why was I so wrapped up in it, they wanted to know. I told them that I had been fascinated with this period of history since childhood, and that this was the second time I had come to Normandy on D-day. Oh, they said, you're empathetic with the war. And there, with English brevity, they had summed up my lifelong absorption with D-day, to their satisfaction if not mine.
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