Tag: lifeonthefrontporch

The Mountain

As I walked down the the rocky slope, an old woman stopped us:

“It’s beautiful here, but sad. I hiked this path every year for twenty years, and I see the glaciers slowly disappear.”

The old woman walked off. My partner and I looked at each other.

We only knew the beauty of right now. I wondered what next year held when I would surely return.

Would I run into the woman again? Would she say the same thing? 

These experiences make me appreciate photography. It’s not just a way for me to share my world with others, but to document what my flawed memories cannot.

DSC_1119 2DSC_1152DSC_1084

 

Featured Musician: Skip James

When I started listening to the blues, I was fortunate to live in the world of YouTube and blogs. All of the living old blues men and women had already been tracked down, rare sides found, and historical performance footage uploaded to the internet.

One of my favorite stories to read about are when old performers were rediscovered by a small group of dedicated record collectors and amateur historians.

The legendary blues man Skip James was rediscovered in 1964. Check out this amazing performance he recorded that same year:

Skip James recorded some incredible sides in 1931, but his success was marred by the Great Depression. He did not record again for over 30 years. 

In 1964, after rediscovery, James preformed for the first time at the Newport Blues Festival. For the next five years, James enjoyed the career as a musician he never had. He passed away in 1969. 

Aside from Blind Lemon Jefferson, it’s hard to find a more idiosyncratic musician from the pre-war blues era than Skip James.

In many of his 1931 recordings, James played in a strange minor tuning he called “cross-note tuning.” This gave his music a somber, dark, moody quality. He also sang in an eerie falsetto that he was able to replicate even after his rediscovery. 

James’ contribution to music are unknown to many, but are significant. Hard Times Killing Floor Blues was famously covered in the Cohen Brother’s film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Additionally, Skip James’ recording Devil Got My Woman heavily influenced Robert Johnson’s 1937 Hellhound on my Trail, which is considered to be one of the greatest songs of the 20th century. 

Many people think of blues men as nomadic, soulful, troubled men that traveled the open road expressing themselves through their guitar. In reality, many great country blues artists we’re not like this, but were seasoned performers, playing pop songs of the day.

When you listen to Skip James’ music, you don’t hear a 1930s pop performer. You hear a man channeling something deep through his voice, piano, and guitar.

Skip James is a true country blues legend– there will never be another.

Featured Musician: Paul Geremia

I used to frequent the forums of Weenie Campbell to expand my oeuvre of music beyond traditional country blues.

In my earlier days, I used to judge contemporary country blues artist by how they played songs I was familiar with.

My mindset used to limit me!

As I matured as a musician and as a listener, I became much more interested in artists that would play in the style, not just play slavish copies of source material. After all, all the country blues greats played regional and popular songs in their own style which led them to producing great music.

Paul Geremia is a player that really stands out to me as a living country blues artist. Using 12 strings, 6 strings, harmonica, and his voice, Paul always paints a picture through his work.

From crosses between Blind Boy Fuller’s Walking My Blues Away (part 2) and Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk, to a cover of Robert Johnson’s Come In My Kitchen with Skip James-esque falsetto, Geremia was never afraid to experiment to push the genre.

Also, it’s important to note that Paul is one of the greatest exponents of playing the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson. A video of his version of Shuckin’ Sugar Blues is shown below.

In some ways, I think Geremia’s voice prepped me for later country music I listened to. He definitely had a great twang to his voice when he wanted.

Paul also hung out with Howling Wolf and Hubert Sumlin in his apartment! Check out the story here!

Unfortunately, Paul had a stroke in 2014, and his career is on hold. You can support him and his family at through this Paypal link.