Tuesday, January 08, 2008

last round of musicians who have inspired me, or served as my mentors, in cases where i knew them. i didn't know most of these, but they've served the test of time...they are still inspiring me.

miriam makeba, whose album welela is my favorite ever, even after all these years. south african, she was one who introduced me to african music.

afel bocoum, malian; his band alkibar has been accompanying me around carbondale these days. a person can be from a world so far away, and yet be so close. this is the magic of music.

paul simon, whose album graceland is on top of this discography, perhaps because it's one of his best, but it was stunning to me because he not only went down to south africa (against the political tide), took in african musicians, and was genuinely influenced in every way by their music, but still managed to produce an album that ranks here at the top. but this wasn't the only time...he actually had a south american phase; went down to peru, and recorded with a group called urubamba. this recording is virtually unknown and difficult to find; i only vaguely remember it, and haven't heard it in years.

stephane grappelli, to a fiddler, the inspiration of inspirations. enough said.

harry manx, canadian, mixes sitar music and north american folk/blues. nice combination.

fiona ritchie, npr host of thistle and shamrock; i've always loved all celtic music, don't know why it's so far down the list, because there are a whole host of people who inspire me, irish, scottish, you name it. she always seems to be around, on all these scratchy old home-recorded cassettes, introducing the bands. we never used to call it "downloading"...if you wanted it, you had to press two buttons at the same time. how else could you ever count on hearing it again?

janis, not only for putting her whole soul into her music, who could compare? but also for one more story i'd like to tell. outside of beaumont, texas, i was hitchhiking in my early days, and a guy in a plumber's van comes by, joe's plumbing or something, it says on the side. he says, i'm from port arthur, texas, right near beaumont, home of janis joplin. at the time i was only vaguely familiar with her, though i'd at least heard of her, unlike tom petty. anyway, he says: janis and i were good friends. we were both musicians. then she moved off to san francisco, and became famous; the rest is history. but while she was in san francisco, she was interviewed in a very famous interview. and she made a comment: all my friends back in port arthur are still back there, being plumbers and stuff like that. and i took it personally. i am, after all, a musician. and now i'm moving to austin, with guitar (it was, indeed, in the back).....though the van broke down, and i ended up leaving him in sealy, texas, at a small garage.

hurd brothers, southern illinois' version of the allman brothers, also worth mention. if i'd have said i was a musician, i would have been relieved of the burden of serving on the jury that pondered their untimely deaths.

huun huur tu, from russia, out by mongolia. listen to all the songs on their profile, give them a chance. i may never make it to the steppes or to mongolia, but at least i can imagine it.

enough. want more? my first and second posts got me started on this, but now, maybe, i've finished.


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