I write a column which appears in the Australian Musician magazine which is available for free in every music instrument shop in Australia. This is the latest.
Nostalgia in music is quite a large part of whats left of the business. Its a charge , a weak spark, a lead that people seek to follow , into the audient chaos, hoping a crowd will join them . Yeah! Nostalgia happens on a large scale when things are allowed to happen big in public, open areas. I really love things that happen BIG and nobody in the media or the business seems to notice. Theres no one sniffin’ round , workin’ out how to “monetize” the situation.
Sometimes I hear a snatch of a song and its a powerful shock, all of a sudden I get a glimpse of something like a parallel dimension. Usually a brightly lit kitchen with the radio on and my mother cooking something . Its just there for an instant. I know the songs that have triggered that flash. It doesn’t happen if you seek to possess the music and own it and pout it on again. Its not like having the keys to that other dimension, it just happens , when things are a bit out of phase, when you’re open to it. I have a lot of vinyl and cds. Sometimes I think it’d be great to have such and such a disc that I so enjoyed many years ago and I go and get it. It rarely has the same charge as hearing something new for me. And something new doesn’t have to be something made in 2010, though that is good too. I mean its new to me. I’ve been chasing down the music of Bert Jansch, the genius folk guitar player. Its all new to me. I’ve heard pieces here and there, but he has so much more to reveal I’m sure.
I had the Grateful Deads “American Beauty” when I was kid. It was already about seven years since it had been made and that seemed like a long time. The general feeling I had about music then was that it was all over. I’m sure a lot of young people feel like that now!
So I listened to it as an artefact and , because I was young, quite seriously and with a piercing but narrow gaze. I dug it.
Recently my brother in law got rid of all his vinyl. I rescuedit and gave it a home. . A large part of it was an amazing collection of Grateful Dead discs. Bootleg vinyl with beautiful handmade sleeves. And all the records are from a particular era. Up to 1972, when the original keyboard player , Ron “Pigpen” McKernan died. (He died, strangely for the time, from Cirrhosis of the liver.A juicehead among the trippers).
You can get a great dvd about the Dead. Its called “Anthem to Beauty”. One of the “classic album” shows. But the Dead were not like any other act and really couldn’t be reduced to one emblematic album.
Basically , the two “acoustic “ albums “workingman's dead” and “American beauty” were the most “song based” recordings. Short, vocal based tunes with mostly acoustic instruments. the band had two guitarists, a bass player, two drummers and a keyboard player. Actually they went through keyboard players like drummers in Spinal Tap. It was a death sentence to get that gig! Four or Five in all and only one survivor.
So I want you to know I’m not talking about the Dead as a nostalgic thing. they never came to Australia. Like Elvis (who never left the states) they hard ever went to Europe. Perhaps a handful of times. They did , however , play at the Great pyramid of Cheops. BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO!
They gave up recording from ‘79 to ‘89 because they didn’t like it and told their fans to tape them. They set up a special platform at every gig for the bootleggers.
These discs I have come from an earlier period, when they were still recording. The band were just too much for the business and the formats ! Its strange, they are hard to like. Bits and pieces here and there are great but it rarely holds together for a whole song, let alone for a whole album. My favourite piece of music, for Jerry Garcias guitar tone ( which had a lot to do with Tom Verlaines) is “Dark Star”. Its on almost every one of my bootlegs and is best heard on the double live “LIVE DEAD” which was their third album release. They were rootsy at times. And very bad at those times, but they were also trippers, and went further than most, taking a huge crowd with them.
The lyrics are always very obtuse and poetic. And I mean in a good way. Robert Hunter, a Dead fellow traveller with links , like the whole band, back to Ken Keseys Acid Trips and Kerouac and Cassidy from that earlier generation of beat hipsters, wrote most of the good ones. The band were very street level and drove CBS records and their staff producers nuts with requests to record “thick air” or “coloured silence” for certain parts of a song.
When they gave up recording, for a decade, they continued to tour, and became the biggest live act in America. Eventually, they made an album , recording on a live sound stage and had a late period hit with “touch of grey” in 1989.
Their live sound system was something out of the box. Owsley Stanley III who was an early proselytiser of the then legal LSD , had a hand in designing the double, out of phase vocal mics which allowed them to stand in front of the massive wall of speakers (using no foldback monitors) and have no spill into them, only the singers voices. (Owsley now lives in Queensland. )
Vocals, lead guitar and rhythm guitar and keys each had their own channel and set of speaker, as did each tring of Phil Lesh's bass Each drum also had its own channel and speaker.
The band stood in front of the “wall of sound”.Theoretically hearing the same music as their audience!
If you followed that, the Dead were not only experimental, they had clout, financial power. And they belonged to no one!
In the 90s, they operated their own travel agency for their fans and before coming to a town , would contact police to tell them to not bust people as they were bringing so much into the local economy! I repeat, WINNERS!
Like I say, in my journeys within the ouvre of the Dead I have found them to be so big and unwieldy that I can only make sense of them at points here and there. Like a planet with a strange surface you can never find a place to land on. I enjoy listening though. I have found parts of their post ‘72 albums to be my favourites, notably 1975s, “Blues for Allah”. They also always had such great imagery. Look up Jerry Garcia on youtube, he is such a great talker. The Grateful dead really did it their way. Winners.
Theres this attack on live music happening at the moment by the squares. I hate it when they talk about musicians being victims or losers. And its a bummer when musicians act that way too, getting wasted and moaning how nobody lets them do their popcorn. Musicians are tough and hardy like cockroaches! They also live in the present and the future like no one else. Think of all the ways that people are learning to live nowadays, flitting from precarious job to precarious job in flimsy cardboard set up hole in the wall shopfronts. They have to live by their wits and blow hard. Cutting through the blues and living right anyway. Thats the way musicians have been twitching it for years. Winners.
Thursdays 15th (w/ Stu Thomas Paradox) and 22nd (w/Go Go Sapien) July Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist play at the Grace Darling Hotel, Smith st Collingwood.
Saturday 17th July. Dave Graney -- OSCARS Alehouse in Belgrave. Dave Graney solo...
Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist play the following NSW July dates w/Tiffany Eckhardt opening.
Thursday 29th July.- Lizottes, Central Coast NSW
Friday 30th July. - Lizottes- Newcastle
Saturday 31st July. - Notes- Newtown
Sunday 1st August. - Brass Monkey ,Cronulla
- dave graney
- WORKSHY - 2017 memoir out on Affirm Press. Let's get Tight - 2017 CD with Clare Moore. Moodists - Coral Snakes - mistLY. I don’t know what I am and don’t want to know any more than I already know. I aspire, in my music , to 40s B Movie (voice and presence) and wish I could play guitar like Charlie Christian or Grant Green -but not in this lifetime, I know.
2014 solo album from Dave Graney. *****"If I've learnt anything in my years of writing about music it's that if you are going to do anything of worth in this tough game, you better have your own thing. Today's generic is easily replaced by tomorrow's. And yet you need to be flexible, to follow wherever the songs demand. In the case of this, only the second credited as a solo album among 30 or so Graney releases, it's a curious yet welcoming lane he walks you down, with acoustic guitars, not much percussion, vibes, smooth sounds. At the end of it you feel like you've awoken from a strange yet pleasant summer's dream. As shot by Luis Bunuel. It ranges from off-kilter reveries (A Woman Skinnies Up a Man, The Old Docklands Wheel) through to the softly seductive (How Can You Get Out of London) and the downright arch (Look Into My Shades, Everything Is Great In The Beginning.) This is music that is neither folk, nor blues, nor country, but it's all Graney, somewhere out to the left field beyond Lee Hazlewood's raised eyebrow. It's astringent on the tongue but sweetens in the telling." Noel Mengel Brisbane Courier Mail
you've been in my mind
June 2012 super high energy pop rock album - blazing electric 12 strings - total 70s rock drive. Greatest yet! available via paypal - $20 pp
SUPERMODIFIED - August 2010 remixed/re-sung/re-strung//remastered/replayed comp via PAYPAL
also available as a digital album
Knock yourself (2009)-first ever dg solo set-filthy electro r&b-available via Paypal- $20
available as a digital album too
We Wuz Curious (2008)-blazing R&B jazz pop album available via paypal-$20
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
AVAILABLE AS A DIGITAL album
Hashish and Liquor (2005 double disc by Dave Graney and Clare Moore) available via Paypal $25
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
Single album HASHISH available as a digital release