Alan Rogan Has consulted on, found, set up, tuned and looked after the guitars of some the the most demanding guitarist of the last 40 years. You’ll know who he is talking about when he uses the names: Pete, George, Keith, Mick, Eric, Ronnie, Jeff and others. From his relaxed, gentlemanly and informed conversation it is obvious why he’s lasted so long in such demanding situations. It is an honor to sit across the table from him in London 10/19 for this podcast.
Here’s one of the Telecasters that Alan set up for Keith .
Keith”s use of multiple Fender “Tweed” Twins for live performances is well known. In 1986 Alan Rogan borrowed this Fender Pro amplifier model 5E5 for Keith to use for the “Dirty Work” sessions. Apparently he liked the sound. Alan enlisted amp guru Cesar Diaz to bring several “Tweed” Twins into spec. The rest is history.
Jimmy Vivino is the complete musician, guitarist, keyboard player, composer, arranger, and producer with a deep appreciation for the musical path we are all on. Mr Vivino is well known for a variety of gigs. His collaborations with legendary blues and rock luminaries are simply to lengthy to list. For years he has been a member of The Fab Faux (the ultimate Beatles re-creation band) with Will Lee, Rich Pagano, Jack Petruzzelli and Frank Angello. He currently resides in Los Angeles but was involved with the vibrant east coast scene around Woodstock, N Y working with John Sebastion and crew on several Jug band projects and the much celebrated “Midnight Rambles” sessions hosted by Levon Helm while he was still with us but still carrying on today. Clear some time to enjoy this podcast featuring Jimmy’s stories all of which reflect his deep appreciation and love of musicians and all thing musical. A raconteur of the first order.
The Fab Faux is the ultimate Beatles re-creation Band.
Here they are early on at NYC’s The Bitter End kind of like their Cavern Days.
Here are some photos of the band at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom April 2002 early in their run. As you can tell they were serious about this right out of the box.
Jimmy of course on a RickenbackerL-R Jack, Frank, Will and JimmyL-R Will-JimmyThe Hogshead Horns Rich Pagano on drumsJimmy with his “The Fool” SG for “While my guitar gently weeps” Even the back is correct.Jimmy’s back
Jimmy’s work with Johnny Johnson brought him close to Chuck Berry who’s influence on American music can not be overstated. Here’s Chuck at San Francisco’s Fillmore in the late 60’s
Before moving to Los Angeles where he now lives, Jimmy was involved with the music scene in Woodstock, N Y. He worked with John Sebastion on several Jug band projects.
Although Levon is no longer with us his barn “Music Rambles” continue. Jimmy was a big part of their success. He also appears on the C D “Electric Dirt” .
Jimmy refers to a photo shoot where I shot his early head shots. It took a bit of digging but I found them. He’s always looked cool.
The Songbirds Guitar Museum has been open in Chattanooga, Tennessee. for a little more than a year now. If you are a vintage guitar geek then you probably already have heard about it. Terry Foster (SLN #11) and I paid a visit to examine a recent addition to the museum’s collection, Fender Spanish guitar #0075 . In this podcast we discuss the Museum’s creation and mission with it’s chief curator David Davidson. Songbirds has done it right, a beautifully repurposed industrial space (the old Chattanooga Choo Choo Station) houses a mind boggling collection of vintage guitars. Do not listen to this podcast if you can’t book a trip to Chattanooga .
David Davidson has been in charge of assembling the stunning collection of important guitars for the last 20 years. Thanks to David the time and money have been well spent.
I don’t think Gibson has a collection of custom colored Firebirds to rival these
Of course Fender produced a few custom colored guitars as well. Here are a few examples but the really rare colored Fenders are in “The Vault” easily accessible.
Don’t worry acoustics are well represented. Loyd Loar signed the tags inside these master Gibsons all on the same day.
This is the small performance stage used for local songwriter’s night. I told you they do it right. The mixing board for this venue rivals some recording studios I’ve been in. There is a lager stage downstairs for national acts.
Each display case at Songbirds is themed for maximum impact from side by side comparison.
The 2nd half of the podcast Terry and I discuss Fender #0075 with David. Terry believes it’s the most important Fender discovered for the last 20 years.
Here is Leo Fender’s first published image of his Spainish guitar and it’s description in the 1950 Fender catalogue.
Below is my attempt to duplicate Leo’s photo in color using Fender guitar #0075 which we believe is the same guitar. This instrument is now at Songbirds.
3 guys having too much fun at Songbirds.
L-R: Peden, Foster and Davidson
James and Kami Walbourne are The Rails, a husband and wife duo from London. “Fair Warning”, their first album was called by Mojo magazine the best folk album of 2014. Their newest CD, “Other People” broadens their sound and if possible is even better. James is the lead guitarist for The Pretenders and Kami is the daughter of Richard and Linda Thompson. This podcast was recorded with them in New York the morning after a very successful gig at The Mercury Lounge just before returning to London. Most anything you would want to discuss is covered in the conversation, their roots, musical and otherwise, their recent recording in Nashville with producer Ray Kennedy, their admiration for a varied list of fellow musicians and of course favorite guitars. Catch them live if you can. Their songs and their harmony singing will convince you that we will emerge from these Dark Times into a brighter future. Who doesn’t want some of that?
The Mercury Lounge NYC
Video about the recording of “Other People” with Ray Kennedy at Room and Board in Nashville.
Here is the current recording discussed in the video above. It is just excellent.
Fair Warning is their first recording which I can’t get enough of
We discuss this LP during the podcast with Kami and James. The event and LP were produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson father of Cody Dickinson who is the drummer in Nashville for TheRail’s .”Other People ” CD. Both the L P and a CD are still available directly from Bear Family Records and Amazon.
We welcome noted author and journalist Gene Santoro for an extensive conversation about his long association with music both as a writer and performer. Gene is one of the lucky ones who roamed NYC’s music haunts in the 1960s and was able to see and hear first hand John Coltrane, The Blues Project, Dave Van Ronk, The Mothers of Invention, Tiny Tim and many others. Starting to write about music with Guitar World Magazine his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Down Beat, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other periodicals. He is the author of “Myself When I Am Real” the definitive biography of Jazz Legend Charles Mingus and 2 collections of his music related articles “Dancing in Your Head” and “Highway 61 Revisited” for the Oxford University Press. The musicians he has interviewed are simply too numerous to mention. He doesn’t hold back in this podcast. It’s difficult to say what is more interesting, the people he has interviewed or his observations and opinions on American music and culture of the last 50 + years.
Gene wasn’t kidding when he talked about being at The Lone Star when Ronnie and Keith were there to see Irma Thomas. Here they are on another night after we had completed a photo and interview session with Lonnie Mack who was playing the Lone Star with Tim Drummond on bass. Who should join them but Ronnie and Keith?
There are 2 books of collected articles that Gene has written. You will certainly enjoy both of them.
“Myself When I Am Real”, Gene’s biography of Charles Mingus is considered definitive.
Gene interviewed and I photographed Keith Richards for the March 1986″Guitar World”. He could not have been more cooperative, a real pleasure to work with.
O K probably not their best LP but at least Gene got to Jam with them in the studio while they were recording it
Another great joint venture was the “Guitar World” interview with Buddy Guy. I always had an amp in the studio for these guys to plug into. Note lower right corner. He’s not faking it in this photo.
In this podcast Gene discusses a dream project we laid out “back in the day” of touring the classic Southern soul music recording studios and interviewing the musicians who worked in them. Unfortunately for us this trip never took place. To be honest we were both on fire having just read Peter Guralnick’s amazing “Sweet Soul Music”.
Gene and I did attend a few shows in New York in the 80s to lay some ground work for our dream “Soul Guitar “project . Here are some shots for SOBs where Etta James was the headliner with support from Otis Clay backed by the fantastic Hi Rhythm Section.
The Hi Rhythm Section L-R: Howard Grimes-drums, Charles Hodges Keys. Teenie Hodges Guitar and Leroy Hodges-Bass
One thing for sure, Santoro’s got great taste. The other interview we did together was with the Meters great guitarist, Leo Nocentelli. This was at Tramps when it was on 21st St. Mr Nocentelli is the only guitarist who comes to mind that plays a Fender Starfire.
If you follow live music in New York then the buzz about Emily Duff has been inescapable. She turns out great new songs with a frequency not seen since that scruffy fellow landed in the Village back in ’61. God bless whoever funded her recent trip to Muscle Shoals to record “Maybe in the Morning ” an L P that stands with the best to EVER come out of The FAME Studio and that’s not said casually. In this podcast, she discusses her music, life and passions with candor and humor. She is joined by her lead guitarist, Scott Aldrich for even more insights and a bit of candid string bending and tube torture. So clear a bit of time, grind some beans, brew a cup of the good stuff and prepare to be throughly entertained by Ms Duff and friends.
“Go Tell Your Friends” is an 8 song CD of Demos she cut with Scott that just had to be fleshed out to this finished product unfortunately no longer available as a CD. You can download it however and better yet catch her live. Prepare to be stunned by her “Force of Nature” live sets of original material.
Her residency at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame (3rd Monday every month) is one of the best live music scenes in NYC. Greenwich Village like it used to be.
The playlist for this podcast is naturally heavy with Muscle Shoals tunes.
The interplay between Scott and Emily is a rare thing and a joy to behold.
Emily Duff’s latest “Maybe in the Morning” was recorded at The Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals. She completely channels the vibe of that storied studio. Do yourself a favor, get in as a vinyl LP.
Emily is returning to Muscle Shoals to record a 2nd Lp. You can support her effort with a contribution to her “Go Fund Me” drive at:
For an overview of FAME the Kent Records 3 C D set will fill all the holes
For more immersion into Rick Hall’s world don’t forget.
Emily Duff quote:”GOOD IS THE EMEMY OF GREAT’
A deep discussion with John Sebastian concerning his boyhood and musical development in Greenwich Village and the folk movement, his founding of The Lovin’ Spoonful, his move to California and his solo career which continues today. A raconteur of the first order who has had a front row seat when he hasn’t been on stage himself to some of the most important events in American popular music of the last 60 years.
Especially good Spotify playlist link due to John’s involvement and direct references.
The 3 Lovin’ Spoonful albums produced by Eric Jacobson are essential, all remain relevant today.
Born in Greenwich village with a professional musician father, John was perfectly positioned to catch the “Folk Music Wave” who’s epicenter was his neighborhood. The Even Dozen Jug Band (more of a recording project than a touring band) was an early recording experience. Like Cambridge’s Jim Kweskin Jug Band, The Even Dozen Band was loaded with talented musicians who would go on to great success.
John developed a friendship with Bob Dylan which took them upstate to Woodstock. Here in 1964 John plays a favorite Gibson J 45 lost to the sands of time. Bob goes electric on a Japanese bass.
At this point John had more experience working numerous recording sessions. He was able to help Dylan when he decided to add musicians for his 1965 LP “Bringing it all back Home”.
The Dylanologist are yet to nail down if and on what cut John (or Steve Boone) add the bass parts. Best guess is Maggies Farm. A Fender Precision Bass can be seen in John’s hands at the BIABH sessions. Note the Fender “Tweed” amp sitting on the chair left of Bob.
Steve Boone bass player for The Louvin’ Spoonful also played some bass at these sessions as did Harvey Brooks. Same Bass different wardrobe than Sebastian.
Here’s John with that J 45 again along with fellow Greenwich Village running buddy John Hammond on a Wurlitzer keyboard. Bob is playing his Gibson Nick Lucas acoustic which John sold him. This whole scene looks like lots of fun.
If you are interested in the Folk performers that went on to larger careers in rock then you will enjoy “Turn!Turn!Turn the 60s folk rock revolution” by Ritchie Unterberger. This guy has a head for details. There is a Vol II “Eight Miles High Folk Rock’s Flight from Haight-Asbury to Woodstock”
John’s first solo Lp after The Lovin’ Spoonful released early 1970 recorded in L.A. for Reprise is a fine LP
In this podcast, John discusses his chance attendance at Woodstock and being pressed into performing as well as his memorable tie dyed outfit and how he created it.
Mr Unterberger also wrote the liner notes for John Sebastian’s “Tarzana Kid John’s last LP for Reprise released in 1974. The list of musicians on this album is amazing : Lowell George,Amos Garrett, The Pointer Sisters, Buddy Emmons, Emmylou Harris, David Lindley, David Grossman, Ry Cooder and Phil Everly. Whew!
1996 saw the release of “I Want My Roots” John Sebastian and the J-Band which featured Jimmy Vivino, Fritz Richmond James Wormworth, Paul Rishnell, Annie Raines and Rory Block.
For “Chain’ Gus’s Ghost” released 1999 The J Band added Geoff Muldaur and Yank Rachell.
John is on board along with Fritz Richmond, David Grisman, Dan Hicks, Taj Mahal and others for Ms Muldaur’s 2006 CD “Maria Muldaur and her Garden of Joy”. “Good Music for Hard Times” Man were they prescient.
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