Saturday, January 29, 2005

Rory Block & John Hammond

I'm writing this just after returning from a wonderful show at the Narrows starring the extraordinary blues guitarist and singer, Rory Block.

I hadn't seen Rory since about 1981 when my wife and I attended her show at a little coffee house in Pittsfield, MA called "The Brewery," which is apparently long gone. Rory says that she used to tell bawdy tales back then during her performance; I don't remember any of those, but, I told her after the show, I do remember her very high heels--still her trademark. In fact it was a little tricky as she walked down the Narrows' loading dock steps after the show. Her husband had to hold her hand as she balanced on some very high and very thin heels.

Anyway, she asked the audience that if they are going to the upcoming John Hammond show (Saturday, March 19th. Get your tickets before it's too late!), please remind him that she's still following the advice he gave her decades ago about what to use as the "slider" when playing slide guitar.

As she tells it, the guys who played slide in the old days would simply break a bottle, and use the bottleneck as a slide. Her fingers, though, are much smaller so it didn't work well for her. John Hammond told her to buy a socket wrench and use the socket that best fit her fingers.

And that's how she's still sliding up and down the neck of her guitar. It works!

Written by Steve the Emcee

Monday, January 24, 2005

You Don't Have to be a Lefty to be a Folkie

Common wisdom says that if you're strumming a guitar and singing your own songs, you're probably left-wing, maybe even a communist.

And there's something to be said for that. There are a lot of lefty singer/songwriter types. (At the Narrows, of course, we care little about politics. We're totally devoted to the arts!)

That's why we'd like to bring to your attention that right-wing radio and television commentator Laura Ingraham defies the common wisdom by promoting Slaid Cleaves, who has been a Narrows' favorite for several years. She's also a Wilco fan!

Don't believe us? Visit and check out the music stuff.

Whether you're to the right or left, you're welcome at the Narrows! And you don't even have to be a folkie, since we feature, in 2005, very unfolkie performers such as Marshall Crenshaw, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, State Radio, Graham Parker, and Katahdin's Edge!

Written by Steve the Emcee on a very snowy day

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Music World through Richie Havens' Eyes

In 1999, Richie Havens wrote a book that I recently stumbled upon at the Providence library: They Can't Hide Us Anymore.

If you've come to our Richie Havens shows, you'll find the tone familiar. Like Richie presents himself in concert (and is the same off-stage as well), it's positive, gently humorous, a touch "hippy dippy" and a lot of fun. I urge you to read it, particularly because it details what was going on in The Village in the early '60s, when you'd easily bump into personalities as varied as Bob Dylan, Joan Rivers, Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks, and Rodney Dangerfield.

Here are Richie's "takes" on some famous people:

--Odetta (who, by the way, will be featured with The Holmes Brothers in March. Visit our music page for info): "'The Queen of Folk Music,'" Odetta became a lifelong friend and personal influence whose powerful, luxurious voice sang out on behalf of solo women performers when that was not the most popular thing to be."

--Fred Neil: "...Fred Neil's influence on my music and so many others was enormous..."

-- Jimi Hendrix: "Jimi might have been totally unknown to the general public at that time, but he played to packed Village crowds of teenagers night after night and some of the most famous rock 'n' roll guitarists in the world went through major changes whenever they stopped to see him play...(members of the Yardbirds and the Kinks)...came away so visibly shaken and depressed from Jimi's awesome, powerful performance that you could tell he had made these skilled musicians see that he was in another league...'I'll never play guitar again,' (Mike) Bloomfield said. 'I just saw the best string bender I've ever seen in my life.'"

The books also talks about he got to know John Lennon and Paul McCartney, why he fired legendary folk manager Albert Grossman, and, getting back to John Lennon, why he has refused to listen to Lennon's "Double Fantasy" album in its entirety to this day.

Written by Steve the Emcee

Monday, January 17, 2005

What this Blog is About

We've created this blog to let you know about fun stuff that goes on "backstage at the Narrows"; although, if you actually went in back of the stage, you'd fall out the windows!

Of course, we mean stuff like:

--Eric Anderson smokes cigars. Not at the Narrows, of course, where smoking is forbidden. But after he leaves. Maybe his "thirsty boots" wouldn't be so thirsty if they weren't coughing on cigar smoke!

--Dan Hicks, whose dry, deadpan delivery is the heart of his show, seems to be that way all the time. He never broke "character" backstage.

--Odetta and the Holmes Brothers are coming for a special performance on Saturday, March 26th (at Bristol Community College on the other side of town). The first time the Holmes Brothers ever played the Narrows (at least we think it was the first time), the guys--who have backed such greats as Peter Gabriel--almost got stranded with a brokendown van.

--If you've ever bought some of the visual art at the Narrows, you're in good company. The great Richie Havens, the last time he performed here, bought some sculpture.

--People think folk music is for liberals. Not true. Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham is a big Slaid Cleaves fan!

This piece was written by Steve the Emcee