We return to John Hammond’s place to continue our conversation that was recorded in SLN #37. In this podcast he discusses some of his favorite guitars and why. He shares great stories of the Greenwich Village scene he was so much a part of in the 60s and the shift to electric music that he helped bring about. We continue his tales of touring and recording which continue through today.
Professionally it probably started for John at The Newport Folk Festival 1963. He left there with a manager and a recording contract.
A photograph of Blind Boy Fuller inspired John to start playing a metal bodied National Duolian
A 1930’s National Duolian. A metal bodied guitar with the bridge resting on a spun aluminum cone that amplifies the vibrations of the strings. Mass production, available by mail order, relatively inexpensive and almost indestructible. They found their way into many roots musicians hands and onto their 78s.
John Hammond as a New York native was at the heart of the Greenwich Village Folk Music scene in the 60s. His stories of the musicians and clubs are fascinating. below is a shot of The Cafe Au Go Go with John’s name at the top . Could this have been the week he took Jimi James (Jimi Hendrix) there to launch his career?
2 books that cover the “Folk Scare” are : “The Face of Folk Music” photos by David Gahr, text by Robert Shelton published 1968 and “Folk City” which accompanied a major exhibition of the same name at The Museum of the City of New York. 2015.
Below the 3 photos that John discusses at my request. These were shot at the recording session for Bob Dylan’s “Bringing it all Back Home” LP in January of 1965. The first 2 are widely published. The 3rd with a seated solo John Hammond holding a Stratocaster I’ve only seen in Daniel Kramer’s book “A Year and a Day”. John Sebastian and Dylan are playing acoustic guitars . Hammond is seated behind a Wurlitzer Piano . However as John explains in SLN podcast #38 in all of the photos he is actually holding and playing the Stratocaster. Glad we cleared that up! Bonus points if you remember this is the month that CBS’s Clive Davis negotiated the purchase of Fender Musical Instruments.
The Blues have always been John Hammond’s musical passion. Throughout his career he has explored all facets of The Blues from primitive solo acoustic to sophisticated urban played with a who’s who of stellar accompanist. He started in his hometown of New York City as a member of the folk revival but his emphasis was on the blues always leading the pack with his deep knowledge, ability, taste and charisma. He was performing Robert Johnson and incorporating electric accompaniment long before anyone else. He has always performed live throughout his career and generously shares great stories of his life both as a performer and recording artist. In this Sidetrack Liner Notes podcast (the first of 2) we trace his career by exploring his LP s in chronological order. It is with a small amount of pride that we note the John Hammond performed at The Sidetrack Coffee House in 1965.
How Badass could you be in 1964?
History made here. Full on electric blues using his friends from Toronto Garth, Levon and Robbie (of The Hawks soon to become The Band) and a few Chicago pals, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite. Who was hanging out at this session getting ideas about “going electric”? None other than his Village friend Bob Dylan.
Most of us first heard about blues legend Robert Johnson from the work of John Hammond. This new book recommended by John goes a long way to clearing up some of the myth and legend without diminishing the the music.
Another must read is this new book about the A&R men of early American roots music recordings. John Hammond’s Father the important Columbia Records executive is given justifiable praise in this book
Most of us found out about Steve Earle when his first album, “Guitar Town” came out in 1986. It is still one of the best first album from any artist ever. To date he has released 17 albums and won Grammeys for several of them. If that weren’t enough, he has appeared in 2 television series, “The Wired” and “Treme” and written 2 books, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” and “Doghouse Roses”. His most recent album “Guy” is composed entirely of songs by one of his Texas songwriting mentors, Guy Clark. 10 years ago he released “Townes” comprised of songs of another of his mentors, Townes Van Zandt. In this podcast Steve shares his strong opinions on a range of topics: recording techniques, musicians who deserve the designation- genius, his admiration for his touring band, The Dukes, (should have asked him if they are The Dukes of Earle ?), the quality of certain acoustic and electric guitars etc. It’s a rapid fire conversation where the facts and anecdotes come at you fast and furious. If you’re a SLN listener you will love this podcast.
1986 Steve’s first. One of the best first LPs ever
“Guy” Steve’s compilation of his mentor Guy Clark’s songs
The classic Guy Clark L P “Old No 1”
Steve refers to Doc Watson playing a Les Paul in the 50s before he was worshipped (with good reason) for his acoustic flat top picking. Note the mic “stand” and that CF-100?
Some of Steve’s early guitars L -R Vox serenader, Fender Newporter and a Gibson LG O
Outtake from a VG cover shoot
2008 Earle at NYC’s Judson Memorial Church
The “Peace Love” J-200 referenced in Steve’s conversation.
But wait, there’s more. At 3 1/2 hours podcast 34 was hardly short. Don’t even ask how we left this out of that podcast but we did, we found it and now you can listen to even more of Dan’s stories. Included in this podcast are his stories of interviewing George Harrison and more about his father’s record collection and Tommy Tedesco. We think it will be many moons before Dan’s record for length of podcast and number of entertaining stories is equaled. Enjoy.
Dan Forte’s musical journey was blessed from the start: Family– father who loved Django Reinhardt, Location- the S.F. Bay Area, Timing- the 60s. Throw in talent, humor, taste and skill for a can’t miss mixture. Dan took full advantage of S.F.’s 60’s- 70’s scene where live music was everything. While getting his BA at Stanford, he taught an accredited “History of the Blues”class, put on concerts and wrote about music for the university‘s newspaper. Journalism followed, where he helped Guitar Player Magazine rise to the top.
Eventually Senior Associate Editor at GP, Danalso introduced the mysterious but always humorous Teisco Del Rey who has brought to light some of the weirdest guitars ever, and received the prestigious ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. After relocating to Austin, he released 2 instrumental-rock albums, “The Many Moods of Teisco Del Rey” (1992) and “Teisco Del Rey Plays Music for Lovers” (1996). As Teisco he maintains an inspiring if sporadic concert schedule.
Dan has interviewed a veritable encyclopedia of guitarists. We await the book that must be forthcoming. For more than a decade, he has called Vintage Guitar Magazine home base. His cover story on Mike Bloomfield is as good as it gets. His VG reviews are always spot on as well.
In this extensive podcast Dan holds nothing back. It’s a joyful ride where he shares his lifetime pursuit and love of music.
Dan and Albert King Hayward California 1970
Dan and James Jamerson in L.A. 1977 with the Precision Bass that changed music
From his position at Guitar Player Magazine during the 80’s Dan interviewed many of the greats. It helped that he knew who the greats were. Here he is having too much fun interviewing Duane Eddy
Teisco Del Rey, Dan’s nom de guitar makes the scene at a late 80s NYC guitar show
This guitar followed him home. He kept it for awhile
The Many Moods of Teiseco Del Rey
No Sophomore Slump for Teisco
Gary Smith on Harp with Dan on guitar. Check Gary’s harp on Southbay Beatdown on the Spotify playlist for SLN #34
Do yourself a favor. Listen to this podcast and get captivated by the musical camaraderie that swirls between John Dunbar lead singer and songwrtiter (A Confederacy of Dunces, The Kunks), Sal Maida, bassist (Roxy Music, Sparks, Milk N Cookies) and Sal Nunziato, drummer (Pep In The Cat, The Cool Jerks). The musical references come fast and furious like they probably did in the studio when they recorded their hook fueled new C D “Nothing Doing” a follow up to their first CD , “A New Set of Downs”. The 3 New Yorkers were kind enough to share their experiences and enthusiasm for this podcast. These guys know their craft and are having a good time practicing it. A great ride for sure.
Ian S. Port’s book “The Birth Of Loud” tells a well researched story of the birth of the electric guitar and it’s impact on popular music and our culture. It’s a refreshing read where Ian looks into corners seldom searched and gives some well deserving figures their time in the light. His literary device of a rivalry between Les Paul and Leo Fender frames the story well but more accurately describes the marketing and cultural forces that both figures were operating in. Leo and Les are throughly depicted as the unique Americans that they were who’s influence still resonates today. It does not matter if you are a musician or someone with an interest in popular music “The Birth of Loud’ will be a delightful read and add to your enjoyment of this music.
This video features The California Playboys, the first California teen age band that played Fender instruments. Leo Fender was certainly a fan of Western Swing.
L to R: George Fullerton, Les Paul, Chet Atkins and Leo Fender
Les Paul at home in Mahway with his original 8 track recorder early 80’s
His house was insane. Equipment was everywhere.
Les was still using a 4X4 block strung with guitar strings to test pickups. Why not?
We gathered a few guitars and shot them on his bed.
Here’s Les performing at that time with the “Paulverizor” mounted on his guitar
Les, ever the tinkerer was his own “roadie” at this show.
Robb Lawrence along with others is thanked by Ian in the acknowledgements. Here Robb is seen showing one of his prototype guitars to Leo Fender at a NAMM Show in the early 80s
It’s a bit difficult to describe Dick Boak without resorting to cliches; renaissance man, gentleman and a scholar etc. I could keep stringing them on because in Dick’s case the descriptions apply. For 42 years Dick was employed by the C. F. Martin Guitar Company where he used his considerable skills as artist, musician, woodworker, draftsman, luthier, public relations maven and art director. His 1976 hiring at Martin perfectly coincided with the vintage guitar phenomenon. Dick and Chris Martin IV, CEO and chairman, are recognized as returning the company to its former stature and bringing it to a new prominence. Dick established the artist relations department where they produced the highly sought after signature edition guitars with artists Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, CSNY, Mark Knopfler, Marty Stuart and others. In this case “every guitar tells a story” so settle in for a great podcast where he tells personal tales and music anecdotes and his all to rare story of a talent flowering in a corporate environment. Of course, his talents and lively sensibility weren’t left behind at Martin. We look forward to what he gets up to in the next chapter of his amazing journey. But for now enjoy this podcast filled with his extremely interesting stories thus far.
Here is Gene Autry in about 1934 with a Martin OM-45 with his name in script on the fretboard
Chris Martin IV saw Autrys original 1933 D-45 at an event at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. An Appeal to the Museum to authorize an authentic replica Autry’s D-45 was approved with the stipulation that the profits go to charity. The success of this project set a precedent for approved signature edition guitars with proceeds going to charity. With the success of Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album where Eric played a 1939 OOO-42, Dick Boak was allowed to approach Eric about a signature model.
Dick had to find a meaningful number to apply to the signature Clapton guitars . Clapton’s “comeback” album 461 Ocean Blvd. provided the answer. With legendary producer Tom Dowd in Miami’s Criteria studios Eric produced a great LP with the lead off single “I shot the Sheriff” The signature Clapton model sold all 416 within minutes. The LP sold a few more.
Mention must be made of pioneering vintage guitar dealers Stan Jay and Hap Kuffner, The Mandolin Brothers. Here photographed in Nazareth in 1976 with the first of their special Mandolin Bros D-45s and the Martin department managers who built it. Today Hap has this to say about this very special model: “Historically speaking it started the C.F. Martin custom shop. Until then no Grained Ivoroid Binding, Pre War Scalloped Braces, Aged Toner Finish, Tortoise Shell Colored Headstock Overlay, Vintage Style Tuners, Squared Headstock, and custom Label. 91 were to be made but only about 50 were completed. A Great Martin D45 Guitar!”
We can not leave the Martin factory at this point in time without paying homage to Mike Longworth, seen below.
The Kingston Trio’s importance to American popular music can not be overstated. It’s fair to say that The C.F. Martin Guitar Company would not be the same today without their influence.
Joan Baez is another folk music performer that has always chosen to play Martin Guitars. Generally choosing vintage O or OO 40s . Of course Dick collaborated with her on a signature model.
Here’s Joan as photographed by Jim Marshall for a 1969 brochure put out by Folklore Productions (Manuel Greenhill her manager)
Without a doubt the coolest place to be in 1968 was Laurel Canyon at Joni Mitchell’s with a few Martins laying around so David Crosby and Eric Clapton could join in if they knew which tuning she was using.
Dick Boak best known for his work with The C. F. Martin Guitar Co. has another side. Dick is an established artist and illustrator with an exhibition Nov. 17-Dec. 8th. daily 3-9 P.M. located in Matt Umanov’s guitar shop 273 Bleecker St Greenwich Village in New York city. Dick’s original pen and ink drawings are on display as well as some images as prints. 7 of Dick’s custom guitars and basses are on display. Also on display are paintings by Tullio Desantis.