Samstag, 25. September 2021

Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt - Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt (1963)

This obscure album, recorded in January 1963 at Dobell's record shop in London, is known primarily for a very famous session musician playing under a pseudonym. Blind Boy Grunt, aka Bob Dylan, contributed harmonica and backup vocals to half a dozen of the tracks (using that pseudonym, most likely, as he was under contract to a different label at the time).

Farina and Von Schmidt, already noted performers in the American coffeehouse folk scene, are the principal figures on this pretty typical '60s folk revival LP. The material and delivery are rooted in traditional folk forms, including jug band, blues, and Appalachian music, and are neither too dry nor too exciting. Certainly Farina, the more talented of the front line pair, shows few flashes of the first-rate songwriting and arrangements that would flower on the albums he did in the mid-'60s with his wife Mimi Farina.

The one vivid flash of that brilliance is on the instrumental "Old Joe's Dulcimer," in which he unveils his considerable talents on the instrument. With its almost Indian-like drones, it could just about fit as one of the instrumentals on the Richard & Mimi Farina albums, although the absence of Mimi Farina's guitar accompaniment creates (if only in retrospect) a sonic gap. "Wobble Bird" (derived from the standard "Cuckoo") and "Wildwood Flower" (a vocal number which has some dulcimer) aren't bad, but really this is just another folk album of its time, notable primarily as a collector's item.

If you're picking this up just for Dylan's contributions, be advised that those are pretty low-key; he doesn't contribute any songwriting or lead vocals. Also lending a hand on these sessions is Ethan Signer of the Original Charles River Valley Boys.      -          


Side One:
1.) JOHNNY CUCKOO (4:27) adaption of a children's game song learned from Bessie Jones, a negro woman from St. Simon's Island, Georgia
2.) JUMPING JUDY (3:55) an ax song, sometimes called "Drive it On," from the unaccompanied singing of convicts, Cummins State Farm, Arkansas, 1934. Played in an open G-tuning.
3.) GLORY, GLORY (2:34) traditional negro hymn, the tune relating closely to the Southern white hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
4.) OLD JOE'S DULCIMER (2:55) a medley of dance tunes including "Old Joe Clark," "Swing and Turn," "Darlin' Corey," etc.
5.) WOBBLE BIRD (2:44) a variation on "The Cuckoo," in 3/4 time.
6.) WILDWOOD FLOWER (1:56) instrumental on the well known Carter song.
7.) OVERSEAS STOMP (2:43) in the spirit of the 1927 Memphis Jug Band.

  Side Two:
1.) LONZO N'HOWARD (3:30) learned from Tom Shoemaker of Harlan, Kentucky, who heard it there from a mountain fiddler called Blind Jim. This is probably its first recording.
2.) YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL (3:00) a tune based on Furry Lewis' "Dry Land Blues," with additional verses.
3.) XMAS ISLAND (3:18) a twelve-bar written by Fariña.
4.) STICK WITH ME BABY (3:32) played in an open G-tuning, adapted from the 1928 Lewis, "I Will Turn Your Money Green."
5.) RIDDLE SONG (1:10) traditional, with new answers to fit the old questions.
6.) COCAINE (4:03) learned from Rev. Gary Davis at Indian Neck, 1960.
7.) LONDON WALTZ (3:10) a blues in 3/4 time, music by Fariña, words spontaneous.

Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt - Dick Farina & Eric Von Schmidt (1963)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

10 Kommentare:

Bob Mac hat gesagt…

Curious about Dylan's contribution to this LP, was Dylan's harp & vocals added on at a later date, because to best of my knowledge Dylan never went to UK until 1965.

zero hat gesagt…

I think, Dylan was in Europe at the beginning of 1963. He stayed in Rome and in London, more details can be found on "Before The Hurricane Begins - Bob Dylan 1963." via Greetings!

folkarchivist hat gesagt…

@Bob Mac -- sorry to say that your information is wrong. Dylan was hired to appear in a BBC TV play "Madhouse On Castle Street" (tapes unfortunately wiped by BBC) and arrived in London via Italy in one of the coldest winters of the 1960s.

The record was recorded in the basement of Dobell's on Charing Cross Road in January 1963 -- for a long time, it was only available there, where I got my own copy back in 1975.

After recording at Dobell's, participants frequently went over to Bunjie's coffeehouse (about 50-100 meters) and jammed there.

Back in 1975, probably after I bought this record, I played a few lesser-known Dylan songs I had learned from bootlegs at Bunjie's during an "open mike" evening -- not knowing that Dylan had played there in 1963,

The LP has been reissued as a double CD (with bonus tracks -- none of these featuring Dylan) by the rightful owner of the original tapes (no longer available?)

zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot for this detailed information, wonderful!

folkarchivist hat gesagt…

Well, as I remember it, the people that were playing were von Schmidt, Farina, Ethan Signer and Bob Dylan... I sang choruses on some of the things -- I definitely sang on 'Glory Glory' -- but I can't make any claims to fame...

There was the tape-recorder, sitting on the shop counter, and just one microphone, into which everyone in the room had to sing and play. We were all so primitive that everything was done pretty much in one take...

What happened was that Richard and Eric von Schmidt were there first and they recorded a blues... then Signer turned up... and then, about two tunes later, that's when Dylan came in with the bottles of Guinness... but he didn't have an opener... Then Rick von Schmidt handed Dylan an already opened bottle of Guinness, and Dylan took it up to his mouth, took a swig, pulled a face and said, My God what is this? And then he tipped the rest of it on the floor...

Doug [Dobell] didn't like his shop floor being messed up... But after that, it seemed to calm down and there was just a lot of playing and drinking. Basically that was it. It was just a one-off that we did and nobody thought it would ever come to anything...

Ron Gould Interview by Brian Wells, The Telegraph No. 49, Summer 1994, pp. 8-14.

ni hat gesagt…

Some years ago I recall seeing a BBC documentary about the 'Madhouse On Castle Street' on a youtube.
I just found a copy in 2 parts. Great story!
and Pt. 2


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zero hat gesagt…

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