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Posts Tagged ‘Long John Baldry’

GC Myers- Book Club Meeting sm



It’s the Book Club Meeting.

Seems like it should be a mild affair but, in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Books. Liquor. A warm evening. Tight shoes. 

Who knows how this madness will end?

This is a new painting, a 12″ by 12″ canvas, titled, of course, Book Club Meeting. It’s headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA for my annual solo show there. The show this year is titled Between Here and There and opens on Friday, June 4.

This painting is part of a small group of pieces that feature interior scenes. They take on the quietness of a still life but most are set in the aftermath of some sort of blow up or scuffle, allowing the mind to imagine the events that led to this moment. Who did this and why? What really happened here?

I think it’s this blank space, this evident mystery, that the viewer has to fill in for themselves that is the appeal in this series. They have the ability to make it what they want it to be rather than me just dictating a narrative. 

I know I enjoy painting these particular pieces. I guess I am drawn to it because it’s a matter of leaving small bits of evidence that will hopefully create a new narrative for the viewer while still composing a piece that has harmony, calm stillness, and visual appeal.

Hopefully, they will appeal to others, as well.

Here’s a song from the late Willie Dixon that I think plays well with this piece. This was originally first released by Bo Diddley and covered by many artists, including one from Long John Baldry that is a favorite of mine that has player here in the past. I like this version from jazz/rock keyboardist Ben Sidran. It’s kind of a different cover of the song but it still works well in its own unique way which is how I like my covers. 

Give a listen. And be careful with those books, folks.



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One of the benefits that come from writing this blog for nearly 12 years now is that on those days when I am super busy and have to get to work early, I can go into the archives and pull out a favorite. Below is a such a favorite from back in 2013, made doubly so in that it is in itself a reposting of an even earlier entry from 2009. Give a look ( and a listen) if you have a few minutes.

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farmer[2013]– Yesterday, I checked my blog with a search to see if I had ever written here before about that day’s subject, Long John Baldry. I found that I had only mentioned him once in a post from back in 2009. I read the older blog and it made me chuckle. It was titled You Can’t Judge a Book… from a song that Baldry had once covered and had to do with how our preconceptions are often wrong about people. It immediately brought to mind something that had happened over the weekend here at the studio.

My niece, Sarah, brought a friend and her husband to visit the studio from their NYC home. Sarah didn’t share much about her friend outside of saying that they danced together and that she was a filmmaker for one of the large big-name auction houses in NYC.  I had no idea about what her husband did for a living. That was the extent of my knowledge outside of knowing they had been married the year before in New Orleans.

But they arrived and we had a wonderful visit. Both were charming and inquisitive, asking real questions and relating their own experiences in response to my answers. They were easy to speak with and made me feel comfortable in describing my work and process, not something that a lot of people can do easily. We visited for a couple of hours and they headed back to the city.

During our visit we learned a bit about the friend’s husband, whose name I won’t use out of respect for their privacy.  He was in the music business in some fashion, performing as a DJ, and had spent a lot of time touring here and abroad. He also was working on soundtracks for films. When I asked what sort of music he worked in, he said, in an almost apologetic way, that it was mainly rap and hip-hop. The manner of his response struck me in a curious way. He went on to explain that it was the music of when and where he grew up, in the neighborhoods of NYC. Again, this was said in an apologetic manner.

I didn’t think much about it until after they left and I decided to see if I could find out more about his music.  Googling him, I discovered that he had a prodigious reputation in the rap genre, with over twenty years in the business as a DJ and producer for a pretty big name rapper. He had recently started his own record company and had released an album  of his work only weeks before our meeting. I watched a couple of videos of his work and listened to several songs.

I am not an authority on rap/ hip hop in any form but this was powerful stuff. I was really impressed and thought back to his apologetic description of his work.

I understood it then.

He didn’t want to be judged and was trying to make it easy for me to not judge him. I mean, here I was, a middle-aged white guy with gray hair out in the country— not exactly a prime candidate for a hip-hop connoisseur. He had surely heard the venom directed toward his musical genre before from people who looked like me.

So, he judged me before I could judge him. I understood that.  It’s most likely what I would have done had I been in his place. My only regret is that it robbed me of an opportunity to ask the many questions that I formed in looking up his work after they had left the studio. It would have been fascinating to compare our creative processes, to see how he synthesized his influences. I got the impression from our talk that, though we worked in vastly different environments with disparate influences, we both working on a similar creative rhythm, expressing emotion within the framework of our own personal environments.

Well, the next time we will both know and won’t worry about judging one another. Here’s the original post from back in 2009:

I’ve just put the final details on a couple of paintings that will be part of my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The show opens June 12th and I’m scheduled to deliver the work to the gallery a week before so I’m in the final stages of preparation. This is my tenth one-man show at the gallery and before that I did two shows as part of a group of painters from the Corning , NY area that was dubbed the Finger Lakes School.  

I particularly remember one moment from the first show with that group. There was a pretty good crowd and several of us from the group mingled, answering questions and such. I had a small break in the conversation and I heard a female voice from behind ask her companion where we were from. Her friend answered that we were from the Finger Lakes region in New York, pointing out that it was a pretty rural area with a lot of wineries and farms.

“Well, you know, they do look like farmers,” she replied.

I think I did a spit take. Over the years I often think back to that lady’s comment and sometimes laugh. Maybe we shouldn’t have all worn our overalls and straw hats that night. It just reminds me how people judge others by that initial glimpse and how often they end up being wrong. Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the end, I would prefer being mistaken for a farmer than an artist anyhow. Offhand, I can think of more positive attributes for the farmer. So, if you can make it to the opening look for the guy who looks like a farmer…

That brings me to a song, You Can’t Judge a Book, that was originally written by blues great Willie Dixon and made popular by Bo Diddley. This is a personally favorite version from Long John Baldry, one of the pioneers of the British blues/rock movement in the early 60’s and a guy who had real panache. Give a listen and be careful before judging someone, okay?

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exANll1Mk7o

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YCAC Student Work 2019

Well, my annual workshop up in Penn Yan has come and gone for the year.

Phew!

I don’t know why but afterwards I inevitably feel like I have been beaten with a sock filled with nickels– bone tired and a little achy. Most likely it’s because running around, talking and painting, in front of a group of people all day is way out of my comfort range. I am not used to that much interaction with people without a break. I think I told the group that  my normal day was actually not far from standing on the lawn of my studio and shaking my fist and hurling profanities at an empty sky.

So having to rein that in and be a civil human who is trying to assist someone takes some effort.

But this year’s group, like every group, has been absolutely wonderful. They were (and are) kind, smart, humorous, generous of spirit and outgoing, though there is a bit of shyness about their painting sometimes. They make my job much easier than I think it is. By that I mean they would probably be just as happy if we accomplished half  of what we do in those two days.

And we do a lot in those 12 or so hours of painting which is remarkable for a group that has many folks who paint maybe once year and have little, if any, experience with painting. Plus, they are learning a pretty idiosyncratic style that requires the touch and understanding of the materials that can only be obtained with long periods of practice and repetition. It can seem pretty frustrating for them at points in the two days. My job, as I see it, is to impart what knowledge I have and to help them in any way to make them feel less frustrated, with the hope that they will try to keep going on their own after the workshop ends.

This year’s painting could have easily brought about a great deal of frustration. It was a fairly complex composition with multiple beds of flowers that required lot of intense painting. It was a whole bunch of work for such a condensed period of time.

And they did absolutely great with task. It took a torrid afternoon session on the second day but their work really popped and each painting made it to a satisfying completion. I am always amazed at how well the work comes out and how, though they share the basic composition and color selections, there is a great deal of individuality to each piece.

I am proud of their work and I certainly hope that they are equally as proud. They should be. If not, they fooled me because they seemed happy enough when they left.

And though I am tired and will no doubt soon regret the decision, I have already agreed to return next year, this time returning to the wet work with inks that marked my earlier work. Sounds lie a lot of work with new materials but most of this year’s attendees are already planning on coming. I have no doubt that it will be fun.

So, thank you to each and every one of you folks who came and worked so hard. Thanks for your efforts and your welcoming spirit. I could not possibly appreciate it any more. Hope you’ll come back again.

And with that, let’s listen to a little Long John Baldry with, of course, Come Back Again.

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the-who-wont-get-fooled-againI started off this morning at a very different place than where I finished when I began looking for this Sunday morning’s musical selection.  I started watching videos from Long John Baldry which somehow led to Neko Case which even more oddly led me to Oscar Peterson and Count Basie.

It was all good and fine but it just wasn’t right yet and I found myself watching a video of The Who‘s Love Reign O’er Me from Pete Townsend‘s reworking of their classic rock opera Quadrophenia in 2015 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall.  It featured British tenor Alfie Boe singing Roger Daltrey‘s part.  It still didn’t quite come up to the original as far as the intangibles– raw emotion and Daltrey’s vocal authenticity– are concerned but it is still very good and musically powerful.  I mean, it’s the Royal Philharmonic– how can you go wrong with that?

But this just made me want more of that fire that The Who just seemed to ooze when they were at their apex.  And one song seemed to fit these times so well and fell perfectly into my own feelings at the moment– Won’t Get Fooled Again.  I don’t think I need to say anymore.  I also threw in the newer version of Love Reign O’er Me below.  Give a listen and have a good day…

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Long John Baldry - Everything Stops For Tea a.jpg-for-web-xlargeSunday morning and I just finished my coffee/protein get-me-started drink and now am working on my first cup of tea for the day.  Something soothing in the whole idea of tea. Maybe it’s the slowness of it, the steeping and sipping  associated with it that attracts me. One of my favorite moments of the day is finishing my cup of tea after breakfast and holding the china cup, feeling the warmth radiate through its thin walls.  There’s something meditative in that.

That brings me neatly to this week’s Sunday morning musical choice which features tea as its central theme.  It’s a song called Everything Stops For Tea from the 1972 album of the same title from the late British blues/rocker Long John Baldry, who in the early 1960’s put into motion the careers of a number of what were to be large stars such as Elton John and Rod Stewart.  I liked this album from the moment I first saw it– must have been the colorful cover that is at the top of the page here.

But I loved the music as well, especially the title track which is Baldry’s cover of a song made popular in Britain in the 1930’s by Jack Buchanan,  a Scottish actor/singer known for his debonair man-about-town roles in the theatre and on film.  Oddly enough for a song concerning one of the most British of things, the song was written  three Americans– Maurice Sigler, Al Goodheart and Al Hoffman.

Regardless, it’s a fun song that I often find myself humming at odd times.  Give a listen and maybe have a cuppa while you’re at it.  Most of all, have a great Sunday.

 

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farmerYesterday I checked my blog with a search to see if I had ever written here before about that day’s subject, Long John Baldry. I found that I had only mentioned him once in a post from back in 2009. I read the older blog and it made me chuckle. It was titled You Can’t Judge a Book… from a song that Baldry had once covered and had to do with how our preconceptions are often wrong about people.  It immediately brought to mind something that had happened over the weekend here at the studio.

My niece, Sarah, brought a friend and her husband to visit the studio from their NYC home.  Sarah didn’t share much about her friend outside of saying that they danced together  and that she was a filmmaker for one of the large  big-name auction houses.   I had no idea about what her husband did.  That was the extent of my knowledge outside of knowing they had been married the year before in New Orleans.  But they arrived and we had a wonderful visit.  Both were charming and inquisitive, asking real questions and relating their own experiences in response to my answers.  They made me feel comfortable in describing my work and process, not something that a lot of people can do easily.  We visited for a couple of hours and they headed back to the city.

During our visit we learned a bit about the friend’s husband.  I won’t use their names out of respect for their privacy.  He was in the music business in some fashion.  He was DJ and had spent a lot of time touring here and abroad.  He also was working on soundtracking films.  When I asked what sort of music he worked in, he said, in an almost apologetic way, that it was mainly rap and hip-hop.  It struck me in a curious way.  He went on to explain that it was the music of when and where he grew up, in the neighborhoods of NYC.  Again, this was said in an apologetic manner.

I didn’t think much about until after they left and I decided to see if I could find out more about his music.  He had a prodigious reputation in the rap genre, with over twenty years in the business as a DJ and producer for a pretty big name rapper.  He ran his own newer record company and has released an album  of his work only weeks before our meeting.  I watched a couple of videos of his work and listened to several songs.  I am not an authority on rap in any form but it was powerful stuff.

I was really impressed and thought back to his apologetic description of his work.  I understood it then.  He didn’t want to be judged and was trying to make it easy for me to not judge him.  I mean, here I was, a middle-aged white guy with gray hair out in the country— not exactly a prime candidate for a hip-hop connoisseur.  He had surely heard the venom directed toward his musical genre before from people who looked like me.

So, he judged me before I could judge him.  I understood that.  It’s what I would have done had I been in  his place.  My only regret is that it robbed me of an opportunity to ask the many questions that I formed in  looking up his work after they had left the studio.  It would have been fascinating to compare our creative processes, to see how he synthesized his influences.  I got the impression from our talk that, though we worked in vastly different environments  with disparate  influences, we both working on a similar creative rhythm, expressing emotion within the framework of our own personal environments.

Well, the next time we will both know and won’t worry about judging one another.  Here’s the original post from back in 2009:

I’ve just put the final details on a couple of paintings that will be part of my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  The show opens June 12th and I’m scheduled to deliver the work to the gallery a week before so I’m in the final stages of preparation.  This is my tenth one-man show at the gallery and before that I did two shows as part of a group of painters from the Corning , NY area that was dubbed the Finger Lakes School.  

I particularly remember one moment from the first show with that group.  There was a pretty good crowd and several of us from the group mingled, answering questions and such.  I had a small break in the conversation and I heard a female voice from behind ask her companion where we were from.  Her friend answered that we were from the Finger Lakes region in New York.  He  said it was a pretty rural area with a lot of wineries and farms.

“Well, you know, they do look like farmers,” she replied.

I think I did a spit take.  Over the years I often think back to that lady’s comment and sometimes laugh.  Maybe we shouldn’t have all worn our overalls and straw hats that night.  It just reminds me how people judge others by that initial glimpse and how often  they end up being wrong.  Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the end, I would prefer being mistaken for a farmer than an artist anyhow.  Offhand, I can think of more positive attributes for the farmer.   So, if you can make it to the opening look for the guy who looks like a farmer…

That brings me to a song, You Can’t Judge a Book, that was originally written by blues great Willie Dixon and made popular by Bo Diddley.  My favorite version was from Long John Baldry, one of the pioneers of the British blues/rock movement in the early 60’s and a guy who had real panache, but I couldn’t find a version online.  But while searching I came across an interesting jazzy version of the song from Ben Sidran.  Give a listen  and enjoy…

 

 

 

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Long John Baldry It Aint Easy Cover 1971I remember my brother bringing home this album from some guy I had never heard of before  back in the early 70’s.  I also remember putting it on the turntable and being instantly hooked.  The guy was Long John Baldry and the album was It Ain’t Easy.  Baldry was a 6’7″ ( hence the nickname) British blues singer who was one of the first Brits to sing American blues in the English clubs of the late 50’s and early 60’s which led to the blues explosion there that re-ignited the dwindling careers of many American bluesmen, such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and many others.  Elton John and Rod Stewart and many others had started their careers in Baldry’s early bands and went on to greater acclaim than Baldry when they moved away from the blues and American folk that he so embraced.  Baldry was content playing this music for most of his career, outside of a short foray into lushly orchestrated Big Band crooning that gave him a #1 hit in the UK with Let the Heartaches Begin.

Baldry lived in Canada from the  late 70’s on and passed away in 2005 at the age of 64.  He did a lot of voiceover work late in his life with one  of his best known roles in voice acting was as Dr Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.  This was news to me when I read it in his Wikipedia biography but it doesn’t take away from a really unique performer.

I dug up the a vinyl version of this album several years back when I wasn’t able to find it on CD or digitally.  I was so glad when I listened to it and found that it is still a really solid group of work, not just some idealized remembrance of a 14  year old mind.   Others must think so as well as it  is now widely available .  This was the first thing I ever heard from him, Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie ( On the King of Rock and Roll) which is introduced by an entertaining little tale from his early days called Conditional Discharge.

 

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FarmerI’ve just put the final details on a couple of paintings that will be part of my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  The show opens June 12th and I’m scheduled to deliver the work to the gallery a week before so I’m in the final stages of preparation.  This is my tenth one-man show at the gallery and before that I did two shows as part of a group of painters from the Corning , NY area that was dubbed the Finger Lakes School.  

I particularly remember one moment from the first show with that group.  There was a pretty good crowd and several of us from the group mingled, answering questions and such.  I had a small break in the conversation and I heard a female voice from behind ask her companion where we were from.  Her friend answered that we were from the Finger Lakes region in New York.  He  said it was a pretty rural area with a lot of wineries and farms.

“Well, you know, they do look like farmers,” she replied.

I think I did a spit take.  Over the years I often think back to that lady’s comment and sometimes laugh.  Maybe we shouldn’t have all worn our overalls and straw hats that night.  It just reminds me how people judge others by that initial glimpse and how often  they end up being wrong.  Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the end, I would prefer being mistaken for a farmer than an artist anyhow.  Offhand, I can think of more positive attributes for the farmer.   So, if you can make it to the opening look for the guy who looks like a farmer…

That brings me to a song, You Can’t Judge a Book, that was originally written by blues great Willie Dixon and made popular by Bo Diddley.  My favorite version was from Long John Baldry, one of the pioneers of the British blues/rock movement in the early 60’s and a guy who had real panache, but I couldn’t find a version online.  But while searching I came across an interesting jazzy version of the song from Ben Sidran.  Give a listen  and enjoy…

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