Yuba Ct., the white letters on green metal echoed, a cul-de-sac daydream.
Peaches En Randalia #29
In the Court of the Pale-skinned Knave
I grew up in a suburban court, and it was every bit the tangible and metaphysical cul-de-sac that one craves when faced with a house full of womenmom, three sisters, no brothers, and a father who was only around late at night after another challenging day working for the (Naval) Man at Moffett Field in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hence, my predilection for all things surreal, imaginary, and filled with daydreams. Then again… it was in the genes, as they say. My mother was a journalist who gave up college, career, and criticism to raise her four children and she, obviously, did a pretty darn good job with three of those four offspring. I followed her path and found my own muse, and I still sit, either indoors or outside, wondering aboutwell, wallowing in the World of Wonder that is our little planet in our tiny solar system laced within the sweet Milky Way.
Whereas booksfiction and non-fictionhave been the ethereal, philosophical touchstone of my existence like a few others of my generation, MUSIC has also been both a spiritual lightning rod, and a daily electric quick in the ass. In our house, I was fortunate to be exposed to a great many recordsyes, vinyl, my mum was late to the CD game, and still prefers the almighty black platter o joy. My dad didnt have much time for music as he was either busy with work, tired from work, stressed about his next task at work, or his need to delegate a household task (I had my share of work around the house, but I was a lazy kid who had to be told far too often to do something. I will not comment if that personality trait of mine has changed over the years).
And the song did not always remain the same in our housewed veer from the Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel to Beethoven to WAR to Steely Dan to Willie Nelson to Bread to Sly to ELP to Joseliciano to Boxcar Willie to Johnny Cash to Aaron Copland to Chicago to Otis Redding to that classic piece that was used for the Lone Ranger themeyou know the onegets the gears goin every time. I think you get the picture.
We dabbled in just about everything, but those were the more familiar names before I made my descent into weirdness on my own musical journey when I left the house post-high school. Like many fans, I found that I could have it all with the music of Phish, as I did in my childhood, as they seemed to float from one genre to the next in an effortless journey that took so many people from the land of the mundane and into the everlasting fields of surreal dreamsour imaginary happy place, the Zone itself: Gamehendge.
Before Phish, and after I left home, I was heavily schooled in the works of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Despite my mothers best efforts, I jumped the Christian ship and landed in the field of hard rock. This would change slightly when I discovered the respective music of Messrs. Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan, but I held the timeless LZ songs aloft to the Valhalla Gods for eternal enshrinementand very much still do, despite my present preoccupation with what some would either call free jazz, avant-garde, organized noise, or jamband fringe musicand I find it very humorous that Ill wake up from a more current daydream, sayI wonder if the idea of a band camping in one town for a week to reduce tour expenses will work for a number of groups used to racking up triple-digit shows on the roadand respond to a response.
Mr. Segue Hall Monitor, please!
Ahemlets relinquish the floor to Mr. Dave Schools at this point.
Dave Schools Responds to Bob Lefsetz
In one of his recent industry letters, music guru Bob Lefsetz discussed Widespread Panics Space Wrangler and what that particular song means to him. In his essay-length letter, Lefsetz jokes about mistaking Widespread Panic for Phish when he saw the two groups play together on H.O.R.D.E., discusses why Space Wrangler isn’t about the industry trappings and, finally, why jamband music makes you want to join the club. A few days later, he shifted gears slightly and sent another letter letter discussing one of his own heroes, Jeff Beck.
In an open letter to Lefsetzs public email list, Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools responds to Lefsetz, waxing poetic on his own experiences with Becks music. Below is a copy of Schools letter in its entirety:
It’s funny, but for the last few nights Jimmy Herring and I (well, most of the band actually) have been wearing out a dvd a friend passed along of Jeff Beck’s performance at Clapton’s ’07 Crossroads festival. And when I say wearing it out I mean it! We watch it every night, wishing that we had more footage of the man. I have never passed up an opportunity to see Jeff Beck and I have seen him with a few different bands. His incredibly emotive playing always manages to get it’s SOUL around the sound of the different musicians sharing the stage. Because Beck has matured to the point where he is talking with his guitar. Without even thinking about WHAT to play pure thought seems to ring out of that Strat: beauty, sadness, humor, and even primitive grunts and squonks are all part of his vocabulary.
And we are amazed….some of the rocking tunes have been part of our musical lives: Led Boots, Blue Wind, Freeway Jam…but it’s the newer ones that really get us: Nadia, Angel Footsteps, Big Block, Behind The Veil, and like you mentioned, his emotional rendering of A Day In The Life. Heck, last time I saw him live he encored with a duet version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and it damn near made me cry.
But the real reason I felt the need to respond to your blog was because of a point you often bring up: when you really FEEL what a musician is trying to say you feel compelled to tell EVERYBODY you know about it. Even if it is something as wonderfully simple as rediscovering an old flame like Jeff Beck.
My point being that last Sunday we played at The All Good Festival in West Virginia and there we were, asking EVERYBODY we saw if they had heard Jeff Beck lately. And if they hadn’t we told them that they damn sure needed to! Oh to have been a fly on the wall when Jimmy Herring asked Derek Trucks if he had heard Jeff Beck lately. I mean these are two of the greatest and most expressive modern day guitarists talking about how NO ONE has the range of expression that Beck does.
So it was really pretty funny when your email blast came through late Sunday night. Sometimes things just happen at the right time.
Randy Ray Responds to Dave Schools
Andafter my long home sweet home preludewe get to the heart of the matter, because as Tea Leaf Greens Josh Clark would say, Home is where the heart is, right?
Dear Dave – Think of a dish of steaming hot, delicious pasta found in a beautiful small restaurant tucked away in a noisy part of Little Italy. You know the place. I know the place.
Eric Clapton is the pasta on the dishnothing too tasty, but extremely filling, and handcut by a polite, veteran craftsman.
Jeff Beck is the delicious, homemade sauce that was splashed without any care of how much dripped over the side of the dishvery good and plenty filling, but there was something unfocused about the whole red mess, something indefinable. Ah yes…it just didn’t quite tell a story about the journey out of the dish and into your mouth.
Jimmy Page is the restaurant. He owns the place, keeps it tidy, sweeps around the edges, and waits for Robert Plant to get done eating his bluegrass appetizer, so he can serve more meals to the thousands standing outside the locked front door, pounding on the windows in breathless disregard for the man quietly consuming his food inside.
_- Randy Ray stores his daydreams at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com