Zeke Schein’s discovery of possibly the 3rd known photo of Robert Johnson sent the Blues community into a tailspin. In SLN Podcast #21 he lays out the story in a most thoughtful and intriguing manner.
“Portrait of a Phantom”, Zeke’s book gives a detailed account of the acquisition of the photo and the story of it’s life altering effect. It is a literary achievement that more than tells the story of the 3.25 X 4.25 tattered photo. His descriptions of life in NYC in the early 21st century are a delight.
Matt Umanov”s Guitar Shop has been a Greenwich Village landmark for 53 years. Zeke occupied sales “first chair” just inside the door. Chatting with Zeke on any given day was always a Great Hang. For one thing you’d probably be leaning on the counter elbow to elbow with John Hammond, Jack White, Steve Earl, Vince Gill or John Sebastian. Here Zeke holds a period correct Gibson L 1 close to the make and model Robert Johnson holds in the Hooks Brothers photo used for the box set of his music. Matt’s store will close in 2017. Umanov’s and 48th St. may be gone but NYC still has great guitar shops. Among them, Rudys in Soho where Zeke now works.
Tom Crandall with his E Bay skills helped Zeke get the photo. Here is Tom at the repair bench at Umanov’s a few years ago. Tom now runs T. R. Crandall Guitars on 3rd St. in NYC.
Most of us first were exposed to The Delta Blues through Sam Charters “The Country Blues” and the accompanying L P for RBF a division of Folkways.
The hardcore blues collectors considered Charter’s selections too commercial and countered with OJL “Really the Country Blues”
However the squabbling was put to rest by CBS releasing “Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers” in 1961.
In 1970 CBS released Vol II of “Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers” containing reissues of 10 Vocalion 78s plus 6 additional tracks 0f alternates takes and unissued masters. Don Law produced all of Robert Johnson’s recordings.
If you like this podcast topic you’ll probably enjoy the following books that explore the fascination and history of American roots music and recordings of it. Keep the highlighter at hand. These are dense reads.
The writing of Peter Guralnick needs no explanation to music fans. His “Sweet Soul Music” is a top 5 books on music for sure. This a smaller book but he’s alway enjoyable.
Make up your own minds Here are Robert Johnson photos #1 Hooks Brothers photo, #2 photo booth cigarette photo, #3 Zeke’s photo. Use your own senses and tell me what you think in the “leave a comment” section at the beginning of the blog. hint: check the eyebrows and fingers.
©Courtesy of the Estate of Robert L. Johnson
Robert Johnson’s music finds a home in many places Here luthier Mark Simon creates a special resonator guitar that also has a pick up designed for this model,the Terraplane.
So that’s it for now. Take another look at the 3 images and make up your own mind. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Zeke’s book “Portrait of a Phantom” which lays out his odyssey.
For years mystery and rumors have surrounded the 1966 tour of Bob Dylan and The Hawks (soon to become The Band) bootlegs continually surfaced most often of the “Judas” concert mislabeled “The Albert Hall Concert” actually recorded at The Free Trade hall in Manchester England. Unknown to almost everyone Bob Dylan decided to have most of the concerts recorded by the audio engineer, Richard Alderson who Albert Grossman had commissioned to build a portable sound reinforcement system for the tour. Dylan had problems with the sound of electric accompaniment since his infamous concert at The Newport Folk Festival the previous July of 1965. Richard Alderson recorded almost all of the concerts and delivered the tapes to Bob after the tour where they were placed in the Columbia Records vault and forgotten. In 2016 Sony Legacy woke up and realized what they had and released a 36 CD box set , “Bob Dylan The 1966 Live Recordings”.Sidetrack Liner Notes is pleased to explore the story of these recordings and much more of Robert Aldersons story to date.
Richard on the right. Not every science guy in high school went on to tour with Dylan.
Spotify Playlist for #14
Richard lived in the heart of Greenwich Village at the height of the 50s-60s folk music scene as well as Jazz and comedy acts that were playing a proliferation of clubs at his doorstep
He was asked to install a sound system for The Gaslight one of the premier clubs on McDougal St.
Richard used this sound system to record 2 nights of performances of Bob Dylan performing some of his original material for the first time now known as “The Gaslight Tapes”.
Many bootlegs and copies of copies of these tapes have been released over the years but look forward to a new C D this year of a proper release from the Richard’s original recordings.
We fast forward to 1965 when Bob decides to add electric instruments to his act. The new “electric” recordings are well received but reaction to the live shows is mixed. Nevertheless Bob recruits a Canadian band, The Hawks plays some shows in the U. S. and prepares a “World Tour”. Albert Grossman, Bob’s manager commissions Richard Alderson to build a portable audio system and hires him for the entire tour. The following is a film put together by Sony Legacy to support the 2016 release of the 36 C D box set of the recordings Richard made of these shows “Bob Dylan The 1966 Live Recordings.”
Brisbane Australia, early in the tour: L to R; Richard Alderson, Unknown, Robbie Robertson, Unknown , Bob, Richard Manuel
Later in the tour below Mikey Jones, Bob, Robbie Robertson
You knew this was coming. Here is a rundown of the gear Richard used for the house sound (PA) and to make the recordings.
Microphones: Sennheiser 405 for Bob’s Vocals, Electro Voice 666 for guitar & bass amps, Piano,Organ & Drums, Neumann U-47 for drum overhead (cymbals) no direct feeds, all acoustic
Mixer: a pair of Altec 1567 A, Vocal Limiter: Teletronix LA-2A
Amplifier; 3 McIntosh 275, Stage Monitors: 2 Altec 604
House Speakers (PA): 4 Klipsch La Scalas, Recorder: Nagra III B
May 24, ’66,Bob sitting on a Fender speaker cabinet backstage at L’Olympia with Francoise Hardy holding a copy of James Brown’s LP “Think”. She I believe is sitting on one of the road cases made for Alderson’s audio equipment. A drum case for Mickey Jones can be seen as well as a stack of Fender guitar cases in the back.
©Barry Feinstein MOJO 5/08
The Offending Instruments probably shot at the same time as the above shot.
©The Bootleg Series Vol. 4, Sony Legacy
J.J. best known as the lead guitarist for Twisted Sister regales us with tales of his mis-spent you and musical journey to date. prepare to be entertained.
The Pinkburst Project ?
Uveitis is an eye disease which J.J.’s daughter Samantha suffered from. To raise awareness and money to fight the disease J.J. commissioned a unique collection of guitars and amps which were successfully auctioned off. His passion for guitars and amps guided him in selecting the brands and models chosen for the project.
A Gretsch 6120 and a Vox A C 30
A Gibson Les Paul Standard
48th St unfortunately is in the rear view mirror now but not too long ago it was lined with music stores a veritable “field of dreams” for musicians. J.J. remembers the Gretsch White Falcon at $600. as the most expensive guitar in the windows.
Spotify Playlist for this episode
Middle 1950’s model
Early 60’s model
In 1972 The Rolling Stones toured with Mick Taylor on guitar. Did they ever sound better live?
J.J. recounts the seeing the 3 Madison Sq. Garden shows. Here are some shots from the same tour but in San Francisco at Winterland June 6.
Subscribe to Sidetrack Liner Notes on I Tunes to get the rest of J.J.’s podcast soon to be posted as episode #13. He doesn’t let up.
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #11 Terry Foster, all things Fender
Author and Fender historian Terry foster sits down to discuss some of his findings and a review of the early history of Leo Fender’s electric instruments.
Terry along with Martin and Paul Kelly authored this beautiful homage to Leo Fender’s company.
The Radio Shop guitar. Leo and Doc Kaufman’s first guitar
K & F amp. Note finger jointed cabinet. It is assumed that Doc got the tool for this process when he and Leo parted amicably
Fender Electric Instrument Co’s first line.
L-R: Princeton Steel and Princeton Amp, Deluxe Steel and Model 26 Amp and Organ Button Steel with Pro amp
Direct String pick up description from a copy of 1947 catalogue 151-A
Young Mr Hayzlett seems justifiably pleased with this drying rack of Champion lap steels awaiting their MOTS pearloid covering at the original Fender plant Santa Fe Ave. in Fullerton. This photo indicates the level of Fender’s production before the introduction of the Broadcaster.
Leo Fender was a legit fan of Western Swing music. He supplied many of Southern California’s top bands with instruments and amplifiers. They in turn gave him valuable info concerning the function and reliability of his gear. Leo Fender did not play guitar so their feedback was crucial to improving his products.
Note “boxcar” pickup on Leon’s triple neck, same as K&F lap steels
Herb’s triple neck features the trapezoid pickup
Spotify playlist for this episode
The California Playboys were a local Southern California Western Swing band that Leo Fender supported with equipment and kind attention foreshadowing the importance of teenage musicians to The Fender Co. Video produced in Fullerton 2012
Where would we be if Richard hadn’t written & published this book ?
Bury yourself for a few weeks in Tom Wheeler’s most excellent “The Fender Archives”
Setting up up for a future SLN podcast where Terry will discuss Leo’s creation of the first commercially successful solid body electric guitar, The Broadcaster which will become the inimitable Fender Telecaster. Several musicians will emerge as important: Merle Travis and Les Paul.
photo courtesy Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Les Paul at home in Mahwah N.J early 80s with adolescent photo of himself as “Rhubarb Red” Same harmonica, rack and Gibson guitar.
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #10 Flip Scipio pt.2
I know you enjoyed Pt. 1 of our conversation with guitar wizard Mr Scipio. Pt 2 may be even more entertaining so go to I Tunes and navigate to Sidetrack Liner Notes podcast #10.
My first notice of Ry Cooder was the amazing film “Performance” staring Mick Jagger, James Fox and Anita Pallenberg with a sound track under the direction of Jack Nitzsche. One of the great soundtrack albums featuring Randy Newman, Mary Clayton, Jack’s future wife, Buffy St.Marie and Ry Cooder. His slashing slide guitar was all over this soundtrack but especially on “Memo From Turner” with Mick Jagger on lead vocal.
Ry Cooder live at The Ritz NYC early 80s.
Chicken Skin Music and the follow up album Showtime proved he was more than a studio slide guitar ace which of course he was.
1981 Lindley’s first of 3 albums with his band El Rayo-X sure to get the party started
David Lindley at NYC’s The Bottom Line
Do yourself a favor and get the DVD of Joni Mitchel “Shadows and Light”
Just how good is your sound system? Doesn’t matter the music is great Jaco is just outstanding on this.
Flip produced Bigsby equipped Telecasters for Bruce to use on The Rising tour.
Robbie McIntosh with the results of guitar hunting while touring with the Pretenders in the USA. Studio shot NYC early 80s. He later toured with Paul McCartney when he contacted Flip for work on a Guild guitar which eventually led to Flip working on Paul’s original Honer bass.
Paul’s Hofner bass at a photo shoot in London for The Guitar Collection book with John Hammel
A Pauls’s eye view of his Hofner
This Hofner is just the kind of guitar that Flip loves to set up to play like the Strat of your dreams
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #9 Flip Scipio pt.1
If you live or have come through New York and take your guitar playing seriously you probably know the name, Flip Scipio. Flip was born in Holland, studied lutherie in London and came to the U.S. in the middle 80s. His first 2 years were with The Guild Guitar Company then in Rhode Island. In 1988 he began a 7 year stint at Staten Island’s renowned vintage instrument dealer, Mandolin Brothers where he gained first hand knowledge of anything with frets that was worth maintaining. When you’ve handled everything you fear nothing. He currently works out of a magnificent industrial loft in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn which he shares with a wife, Mitzi who restores and binds rare books. We joined him here for Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #9 & #10. Flip is such an entertaining speaker that he could have a career in stand up. However, there would be a long line at his door in Bushwick in need of his guitar wizardry. Imagine the following who’s guitars he’s worked on lined up at his door: George Benson, Edie Brickell, Jeff Bridgers, Jackson Browne, Larry Campbell, Jim Campilongo, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, Tony Garner, Mary Halverson, Norah Jones, Patty Larkin, Will Lee, Adrian Legg, John Leventhal Paul MaCartney, Marc Ribot, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Slash, Bruce Springston, Leni Stern Stephen Stills, Suzanne Vega, Tony Visconti, and Rufus Wainwright. You get the idea. So settle down for a very informative and entertaining listen.
Paul Simon’s Guild F-30 at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
© The Guitar Collection Book
© The Guitar Collection Book
Spotify Playlist for SLN Episode #9
Vintage DeArmond pickups T-B: RHC-B, 2000B Dynasonic, 1100
Hawk Equalizer/distortion device of the type possibly used by Rory Gallagher
1952 Les Paul Standard with Trapez bridge (strings under)
1954 Les Paul Standard all gold finish
1950s Les Paul Standards Neck angle compared
Current Flip Scipio Steel string guitar modeled after Oliver Ditson
Cindy Cashdollar on a Marc Simon Terraplane resonator guitar
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #8 Dan Erlewine pt. 2
We continue our conversation with master guitar repairman, Dan Erlewine. He shares some tips on acoustic guitar buying and set up. He discusses some novel inventions of his own like “The Rocking Chair” a piece of furniture that holds your guitar while you sit on it, folk art for sure and capos that screw right into the neck of his guitars.
© photos courtesy Dan Erlewine
Great stories about musicians he knows and shows he’s
seen. Not to be missed.
Eric Clapton with Cream, First appearance at The Fillmore San Francisco August 1967 playing his Gibson SG painted by “The Fool”. The Prime Movers, Dan Erlewine’s band opened one of Cream’s shows that week.
Jimmie Rodgers 00-18
©The Guitar Collection Book
Used on The Bristol Sessions with Ralph Peer with the handwritten date 8-4-27 of his session
©The Guitar Collection Book
Junior Wells and Buddy Guy on Delmark Buy this record.
Magic Sam also on Delmark
Michael Bloomfield will take you to school for the Blues
Check out the current Fretboard Journal # 37 for a very nice series of recollections of Michael by those that knew and played with him by John Kruth.
L-R Tom Erlewine, Dan Erlewine , Tom Crandall at T R Crandall Guitars NYC 10/16
Sidetrack Liner Notes Podcast #7 Dan Erlewine
It is with pleasure that we welcome Dan Erlewine probably best known as the voice and face of Stewart MacDonald supplier of all things needed to keep our guitars happy. Dan’s roots are deep going back to the folk boom days of the late 50s through The Prime Movers Blues Band in San Francisco in ’67, editing a column for “Guitar Player” for 15 years and now editing “Dan’s Guitar Rx” for “Vintage Guitar Magazine” In his years on the guitar trail there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, played and probably fixed. His knowledge and love of guitars, music and musicians is front and center in podcast #7 & #8.
Like many of us The Kingston Trio were the entry point for Dan. He refinished his first guitar to make it resemble one of these Martins
Freddie King’s LPs were a huge influence on guitarist on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 2015 Mike Bloomfield’s ’63 Telecaster surfaced in Dan’s shop which set off a scramble to authenticate it. See G.E. Smith’s reaction to this guitar in the previous blog about Bob Dylan. Here is Dan’s video about refretting this guitar.
Albert King with “Lucille” The Flying V Dan made for him.
©Paul Natkin Photo Reserve
Jerry Garcia playing the custom Strat Dan built for him.
Dan’s home movie of Jerry receiving the Strat Dan built for him.