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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode With Producer Joe Boyd

Posted by Amoebite, January 2, 2014 04:19pm | Post a Comment

Joe Boyd

Joe Boyd is an icon when it comes to music producers. He was at the core of Britain's folk rock boom of the '60s and pioneered the World Music genre in the '80s and '90s. Mr. Boyd has been a part of some Joe Boydiconic moments in music history, including overseeing Bob Dylan's legendary first live electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Boyd also signed and produced a young 20-year-old Nick Drake who subsequently released the classic album, Five Leaves Left. Boyd also holds the distinction of producing Pink Floyd's first single, "Arnold Layne."  From founding his label, Hannibal Records, to working as a film executive for Warner Bros. to releasing his memoir, White Bicycles: Making Music In the 1960s, Joe Boyd has definitely made his mark.  

Amoeba's "What's In My Bag?" crew had the pleasure of hanging out with Mr. Boyd during a recent visit to our San Francisco store. Needless to say, he has very eclectic taste in music. Mr. Boyd kicks off the episode with Dafnis Prieto's About The Monks and says Prieto is the "new genius of the drums." Boyd also digs up a copy of Mongo Santamaria's Our Man In Havana on vinyl. Although he points out he doesn't keep up with current bands too much, he made sure to pick up a copy of Phosphorescent's Here's To Taking It Easy. Mr. Boyd has many cool picks from all regions of the world to check out!

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out this week...3/8 & 3/15...kurt vile smoke ring for my halo!

Posted by Brad Schelden, March 17, 2011 02:00pm | Post a Comment
Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile
has just released his brilliant 4th album called Smoke Ring for My Halo. I am obsessed. He released his 3rd album and his 1st for Matador about a year and a half ago, in October of 2009 and somehow it just passed me by. I just had to go back and see if I even mentioned it in my blog, and I only briefly did but I never got around to really giving it the time it deserved. That album is called Childish Prodigy. I really wish I could go back in time and fall in love with it right there and then but there was a lot going on that week to distract me! The new album from A Place To Bury Strangers had just come out, and new Dead Man's Bones and Gossip albums had just come out as well. I was busy! So when I first heard about the new Kurt Vile album, I really was not that excited and I didn't know what to expect. I had heard some good things about him -- I knew my friend Zack was obsessed, but I really had no idea what he sounded like. From the look of him, I expected him to sound like Andrew WK or Jay Reatard. Kurt Vile I had no idea he would sound more like Mark Kozelek or Jose Gonzalez. He is sort of a combination of all your favorite folk musicians: Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bert Jansch, and Fairport Convention. I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard Smoke Ring for My Halo. I had absolutely no idea that this would be one of my favorite albums of the year!

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Digging through the Record Stacks 3 -- O'Hegarty, “Body in the Bag”

Posted by Whitmore, April 6, 2010 09:52pm | Post a Comment
o'hegarty Body in the bag 
O'Hegarty – “Body in the Bag” / “What a Mouth” (Verve-Folkways 1966)
 
Every record geek’s collection benefits from owning a few sides of twisted little English ditties, if only to help explain our twisted little lives. And this seven inch is as ridiculous and perverse a record you could ever hope to find. Most any vinyl fiend, jonesing for some new weirdness, would love to slip a needle on this disc. Anyway, one thing you should know, I’m not a big fan of pets, just not ... at all ... but if push comes to shove and to preserve harmony in the mostly cat loving Whitmore homestead, I too am more cat people than a dog people (it’s the poop question), so dear cat family, be warned, “Body in the Bag” yanks out several merry and morbid feline jokes, driven along by an acutely cheery organ and a happy jaunt on the sunny side of the street as the singer retells the tale of how he tries to rid himself of a dead cat. The original lyrics start like this:
 
“I met a strange man on the street today
He shoved a bag into my hands and quickly ran away,
I really must admit that it took me by surprise
What a charming fellow to leave me such a prize.
But when I took a look inside
I couldn’t believe my eyes,
He left me with a body in a bag
So on I went with a body in the bag
A body in the bag, ta ra ra.”
 
The song was written by Charles O'Hegarty and recorded in New York City on July 5, 1966. And as you may consistently find with many of the great singles of yore, the superior side, the desired side, like “Body in the Bag,” was originally relegated to B side status. The plug side, “What a Mouth,” is a nice song, a funny song, sure enough, but it ain’t no “Body.” Over the years I believe O'Hegarty wrote several different versions of “Body in the Bag,” as I keep on coming across different sets of lyrics, but no need for you music lover to fear -- it is always a snappy song about a dead cat ... ta ra ra ... ta ra ra.
 
Throughout O'Hegarty’s career he was mostly known as a singer of the traditional seafarer’s ballads and shanties and a gifted creator of weird tales, blessed with the ability to spontaneously craft a little song at the drop of a hat as fast as a cat. In a career that spanned decades, he was also a member of the band The Starboard List, who put out two albums for Adelphi Records and occasionally he was a contributor to the ground-breaking humor magazine National Lampoon during its heyday in the 1970’s.
 
Unfortunately I just read some sad news today; Charles O'Hegarty died earlier this year in the Hackney at Homerton Hospital in London, England of a heart condition on Friday, January 29th. He was 72. Rest in peace, O'Hegarty.

Fleeting and Forgotten Female Folkies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 24, 2009 05:47pm | Post a Comment
Lately, whilst reading about unfamiliar folkies popping up on my Pandora folk station, I sometimes feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over when it comes to a handful of female artists. I doubt that the reasons were the same, but several new (to me) discoveries had similar careers involving under-recognized talent, followed by disappearance/retirment and then, several decades later, new interest. Among these chanteuses are:


Bridget St. John -- Bridget St. John learned guitar from John Martyn. St. John began touring the folk circuit and recording for the BBC and on John Peel's Dandelion label with members of Jethro Tull and King Crimson. In 1974, she recorded Jumble Queen and was voted the fifth most popular female singer in the Melody Maker readers' poll. In 1976, St. John moved to Greenwich Village and retired from music. She re-emerged in 1999 for a Nick Drake tribute concert and toured Japan in 2006.


Diane Hildebrand -- Hildebrand started out writing for Screen Gems alongside Boyce & Hart, Carole King & Gerry Goffin as well as other Brill Building alumni, including her frequent partner, Jack Keller. Together they wrote several songs for The Monkees as well as the theme to The Flying Nun. Whilst living in Beachwood Canyon, she signed a one record deal with Elektra, for whom she recorded her sole album, Early Morning Blues and Greens.

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Samantha Bumgarner -- fiddling ballad woman of mountains

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 12, 2009 06:49pm | Post a Comment
Aunt Samantha Bumgarner c. 1937

Aunt Samantha Bumgarner (née Biddix) was a fiddle and banjo player from North Carolina who, in 1924, became the first woman to record hillbilly music. In doing so, she opened the doors for all the great female hillbilly and country musicians who followed. Imagine for a second a world without Brenda Lee, Iris Dement, Jean Shepard, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Norma Jean, Skeeter Davis, Sue Thompson and Tammy Wynette, to name a few. Not a pretty place.

Dillsboro, North Carolina c. 1904
 

Samantha Biddix was born in Dillsboro, North Carolina on Halloween, 1878, the same year Black Bart held up his last stagecoach and, more relevantly, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph. Her parents were Has Biddix, himself a fiddler, and Sara MaLynda Brown Biddix. Though Biddix showed an early interest in music, her father wouldn’t allow her to touch the fiddle, an instrument occasionally referred to by hillbillies as a “devil’s box.” Nonetheless, when he wasn’t around, she played it and displayed a natural talent. The banjo, then viewed as a slightly more acceptable instrument for women, was not forbidden and Biddix’s first, constructed from gourd and cat hide, was presented to her at fifteen. Later, having demonstrated her skills for her father, he bought her a ten cent model and allowed her to perform with him in the area. Ultimately, he consented to her entering a banjo competition in Canton and she won. Gaining confidence, she began entering and winning competitions routinely.

English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians

When she married Carse Bumgarner in 1902, he gave her her first fiddle but she remained most acclaimed for her banjo playing. A few years later she acquired the nickname "Aunt Samantha." Although through the lens of modern ignorance, a hillbilly woman gaining fame with the banjo may seem completely out of the ordinary, it was actually fairly common for women to play the instrument, especially amongst hillbillies. In 1916, when Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles began field recording in the upper south, nearly three quarters of the hundreds of tunes they compiled as English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians were performed by women. In addition, many famous male hillbillies learned to play from the women in their lives. Ralph Stanley was taught to play by his mother, Lucy Smith Stanley. Cynthia "Cousin Emmy" May Carver taught "Grandpa" Louis Jones. Clarence "Tom" Ashley learned to play from his aunts, Ary and Daisy. Morgan Sexton was schooled by his sister, Hettie. Earl Scruggs was beaten to the banjo by his older sisters, Eula Mae and Ruby.

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