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Mitch’s Monthly Mix: April Showers Bring May’s Death-Defying Flow

Taking some liberties with the “monthly” aspect of this series this month, Mitch once again brings his encyclopedic knowledge and massive music collection to bear on an 80 minute custom mix tape. (With videos to make things easy on Driftwood’s readers, of course.) As with all Monthly Mixes, make good use of the “read more” button after the introductory essay.

Mitch’s Monthly Mix: April Showers Bring May’s Death-Defying Flow
Blendt by Mitch Ritter
Lay-Low Studios, Or-Wa

April showers may not be gone by May, so apologies for these late seasonal tributaries from the great River of Song. What with the Pacific Ocean’s La Niña climate and current patterns kicking in with the off-the-charts earthquake on the Japanese coast followed hard by the biblically proportioned tsunami, all God’s creatures up and down the food chain had reason to be anxious about what next Mother Nature might be saving to Spring on us mere mortals. This was not a gentle spring evocative of Paul Simon’s comforting account of the blessed abundances of rivers swollen with rain and the seasons’ metronomic cycles, as expressed in his early Queens College poetry adapted to the emerging new folk musical poetic on an iconic 1966 Simon & Garfunkel album. Straight up to press time here approaching the end of April 2011, with tornados gaining unprecedented power ripping up Lambert Airfield outside St. Louis, this continues to be rough & ready times and the sheer scale and seeming arbitrariness of terror from beyond human agency requires mythic outreach and could benefit from the native poetic pool, however filtered through our post-modern accoutrements. If you try blending these at home do not don 3D glasses left over from Dr. Tongue’s House of Beef; however, do use a music-specified (they are getting harder to find in brick and mortar stores) CD-R as these 18 songs of April’s Showers Death-Defying Flow clock in at 78:28.

1. “Misty Mountain” Ferron, Boulder (Bitch Sessions/Short Story Records 2008)

Following an auspicious and deeply personal debut in Vancouver, BC as a teenage runaway from an abusive parent and a select northwestern Canadian circuit back in the 1970’s, with crossover major label success shepherded a tumultuous decade later by the U.S. women’s music scene flexing some entrepreneurial creativity from its mecca in Oakland and the East Bay before extending throughout rural and metro Northern California, Ferron’s disarming tours of the café-indie book & music shop-bar-cellar circuit were followed by tours of larger cabarets and theaters accompanied by a media-reticent attitude casting Ferron as an unlikely if logical heir to the laurels of The Next Bob Dylan. Filing through the vinyl albums and newfangled CD’s and alternative press reviews, Ferron’s big splash seems all the more improbable looking back.

Her withdrawal from the active music scene for another decade-long stretch and an amnesia coupled with distraction-saturated lack of cultural curiosity within the newer generation of radical riot grrls was distressing enough to such mindful artists as Ani DiFranco, whose Righteous Babe records released the sonic textures of Bitch & Animal, the former of whom went solo a few years ago and took on the mission of teaching the young’uns she was playing to on the club circuit about Ferron’s legacy. This led to Bitch seeking out Ferron, by 2007 shape-shifted into a rural northern Michigan bohemian womyn’s fen-turned-bed and breakfast inkeeper. That northern Michigander bed & breakfast detour also detoured another folkie who had earned her place in the modern folk pantheon, Claudia Schmidt.

A reluctant Ferron agreed to Bitch’s hounding visits requesting new recording sessions with some vocal tracks of old and overlooked newer material that Bitch then took back to her own more experimental music scene and rolodex of well-suited accompanists and voila, with Ferron’s permission and the participation of such as Bitch, Ullali, and Ani DiFranco the 2008 indie release Boulder. Not only making remix magic and burning a new niche, but this indie release catalyzed further down-stream collaborations and a return to touring. Ferron’s recent solo show at Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Studios reflected a unique stratification of her audience along generational lines.

The gender divide would indicate that Bitch and her young riot grrl cohort have succeeded at introducing Ferron and her influential back-catalogue (and sage if unexpected onstage improvised in-the-moment humor) to a new club crowd. Ferron’s older and always loyal starved following is prepared to return to her performances and lend an open ear to her newer work. However, the crossed-over following of serious (and usually solitary) male song-chasers, especially those who might still count a coupla-three Ferron albums in their collections, have yet to be reached. Sourced from old soul adolescent oracular journal scribbling, “Misty Mountain” can now be heard as reaching for some knowledge from beyond linear time, working on a number of mythic, tribal and ritualistic levels. Check out Big Sky’s reworking and remixing of Ferron’s “Misty Mountain” from the 2009 Calgary Folk Festival used in an Ojibwa-inspired First Nations’ dance piece choreographed by Alvin Tolentino.

Up the misty mountain
Wild flowers bind the ground
Down by the rushing river
Force will wear those boulders down
Me I’m underneath my covers
Me I’m trapped inside my brain
While up above the misty mountain
Up above the rushing river
Up above the bed of longing
The eagle takes the wind
The eagle takes the wind my friend
The eagle takes the wind
It makes me think of this my friend
Where does the eagle live in me?

O I am crawling through this city
I say the city will be my home
I say Ferron you are halfway pretty
And may you never be alone
Be it scorn or be it favour
Be it but a moment gone
But I stood before the mirror
Like an open-ended cavern
Like a breath held inhaled, holding,
And I barely knew my name
I barely knew my name my friend
I barely knew my name
It makes me think of this my friend
Where do I live in me?

O it’s a planet of resistance
It’s a whirling flame of choice
Are you my comrades in persistence?
I swear they’ll know us by our voice
Though we lay down in dusty corners
We are ragged as a scar
And when we rest our eyes stay open
We are always off to war
We’re always off to war my friend
We’re always off to war
And it makes me think of this my friend
Where can the quiet be?

O is it up the misty mountain
Where wild flowers bind the ground
Is it down by the rushing river
Where force wears those boulders down
Is it underneath my covers?
Is it trapped inside my brain?
Is it up above the misty mountain
Is it up above the rushing river
Is it up above the bed of longing
Where the eagle takes the wind?

2. “Dark River” and
3. “Time”
Bill MillerChronicles of Hope (Cool Springs 2010)

Video here

Bill Miller and his family have played some harsh hands dealt to them by the fates and he miraculously seems to weather each season in more gracious form. While he continues to push the creative and structural parameters of Native American flute instrumental music, winning the 2010 Grammy for Native American Instrumental Recording with his Spirit Wind East album after a surprising collaboration with the Israeli Symphony on a classical composition, Miller’s strengths as a songwriter and recent well-springs of inspiration are found on his concurrent 2010 album Chronicles of Hope. The Stockbridge-Munsee band of Wisconsin Mohicans and what can only be described as a transcendentalist Christian faith provide safe passage through the turmoil of these times and contemplation of not the “River of Time” as Miller wrote and recorded that some time back, but of “Time” as framed perhaps by juxtaposing it with a theoretical counterpart I can only think to call anti-Time.

Dark River, black skies
Change is coming, don’t cry
Talk with angels, walk with men
Seek your vision til the end

Dreams turn into prophecy
Cry for mercy all you need
Dark river, black sky
You know change is coming, don’t cry

Time keeps passing me by. Bye,..bye
My heart keeps asking you why? Why..why
Where do all the good days go? Where do they go?
Why does no one try to stop the rain from falling down?

Time keeps passing me by. Bye..bye
My heart keeps asking you why? Why..why?
Did you think I would run away from you?
You will never know how much I truly love you
(Wood flute phase)

4. “All Roads to the River” Janis Ian, Breaking Silence (Morgan Creek Music, J. Ian-J. Vezner, 1993)

After losing the institutional backing of Columbia Records and jettisoning her hipster (largely feminine) Greenwich Village and West L.A. cabaret followings, Janis Ian followed her muse to Nashville and set about writing with Music City partners if not for the general narrative proclivities of the industry’s target audience. Her first independent recording since the teenage fluke hit describing a young inter-racial romance “Society’s Child,” Ian made a sensually alive deep sonic dive into more elliptical lyrical terrain. These sessions and some of the most memorable shows of a poorly publicized tour (where she held San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall crowd rapt through an evening of largely new and unheard material), perhaps the last of those featuring Ian at the piano leading a tight trio before her return to her folkier solo guitar roots, were taken to a whole new level by unsung session percussionista Jim Brock. Ian’s newfound songwriting and performing focus meshed with Brock’s sublimely inventive percussion textures and Chad Watkins’ lyrical yet rhythmically snappy electric bass. Ian’s autobiography subverts Hollywood and High Society conventions as it fills in the backroom subtexts to every line.

I am master and slave
I am sunlight and shadow
I am all roads to the river
I am lost, I am saved
I am beloved and betrayed
All roads to the river

And the river runs wide
The river runs deep
And I spit in the eye
of safe company
When I dive right down
To the undertow
The deeper I drown,
the higher I’ll go

I am whispering dreams
I am howling revolutions
All roads to the river
I am valentine sweet
I am every mother’s nightmare
All roads to the river
(Chorus)

(Bridge)

I dream of still waters
silent and clear
but I run for the thunder
that’ll drown my fear
(Instrumental)
(Chorus)

5. “Returning to Portland” Blue Cranes, Lift Music, Flown Music! (Blue Cranes Music 2007)

Embarking on their first national tour this winter from their home nest in Portland, Oregon and perhaps the first band to return to riding the rails hauling gear to gigs since Vaudeville (I know singer-songwriters have taken to inviting their fans to join them on coast-to-Canadian-coast rail tours) or at least the psychedelic multi-band packaged rock fest days, the Blue Cranes braved Amtrak for a series of stops with likeminded and likely some newly found new music fans across the northern midwestern route through Montana, Minnesota (Carleton College), Chicago, Detroit (what is left of it), Rochester down through New England’s Providence and Boston scenes to Brooklyn for three nights and back home via a southerly route through New Orleans and the southwest. With band founder and alto saxophone-composer Reed Wallsmith blogging about the band’s impressions seeing not only the devastation found from the ground up in 2011 (see the description and photos of the band’s tour through Detroit led by homie tenor sax playing composer Sly Pig aka Joe Cunningham accompanied by photos of the barbed-wire encircled decaying remains of the once grand Detroit Central Station, at one time the heaviest trafficked hub of passenger rail transport in the U.S.) The Blue Cranes national train tour blog was carried on the web site of the Portland alternative press Willamette Week.

Although this first track of the band’s debut album pre-dates Sly Pig’s musical migration from the Decemberists to a more outside venue for his developing horn sound, “Returning to Portland” features a hypnotic pull so strong the state-wide NPR affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting (www.opbradio.org) has used it as a “button” for the last three years to bring their northwestern airwaves and web stream back from the Midnight to 3 am nightly BBC feed of The World Service Overnight.

6. “Goin’ to St. John” Michelle Medler Quartet, Balance (Shoo-wah Records/Medler Studios, Portland, OR 2006)

Young sax and flute up-and-comer Michelle Medler, together with husband and band-mate, multi-instrumentalist, music educator and studio-keeper Ben Medler team up with the dynamic rhythm section of pianist and organ groover Marcus Reynolds and flexible drummer Edwin Coleman III. This jaunty jazzy flute air exudes the hardscrabble river-town charms of this North Portland neighborhood with its pedestrian plazas and out-of-the-way ambiance.

7. “Bird In Hand” (Monica Pasqual)
8. “Pajaros Sin Alas” (Monica Pasqual)
9. “Countdown (Monica Pasqual)

Blame Sally, Speeding Ticket & A Valentine (Ninth Street Opus Music 2011)

Video here and rite-chere:

Red hot on the heels of their winter tours through the Northwest and Rockies that followed a first-ever band tour of Germany that  followed the Bay Area recording of solo albums by Renee Harcourt and Monica Pasqual and a duet album by Jeri Jones and Pam Delgado that followed a previous year of touring and band recording comes a new album set to propel these talented music-makers to new vistas. Debuting the new Blame Sally album on San Francisco public radio station KALW’s syndicated West Coast Live with Sedge Thomson last month by opening with Monica Pasqual’s album opener “Bird In Hand”, the intimate melody drives harder than the wistful lyric would suggest with fresh contributions on acoustic and electric instruments by each musician. The band harmonies lift what sounds like a traditionally-inspired mountain tune to a dark place of rumination with a narrator refined by life’s more severe lessons opening the imagistic frame by withholding all the plot points reserved for idle gossip. This leaves the aspirations of youthful love and lust, vivid sense datum and those harmonies drawing one into a tableau ripe for . . . a new cinematic take on the mythic west as land of sanctuary and reinvention. “Pajaros Sin Alas” advances the avian theme with more than what Dizzy Gillespie had in mind when he coined the descriptive term for descarga jazz as “Latin Tinge.” “Countdown” may be the insistent rhythm and groove push-back Blame Sally played at an early 2010 Mississippi Studios show, with Monica Pasqual at her electric keyboard turning over and tossing flashcards of her tart lyrics a la Dylan’s famous Beat Poet alley scene of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the 1967 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don’t Look Back. In fact “Bird In Hand” could be the song never sung either by or about a mute character named Alias played by Bob Dylan in Sam Peckinpaugh’s revisionist western Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Jeri Jones’s single-string modulations on a Buck Owens Buckaroos-evocative electric guitar solo carries “Bird In Hand” to Bakersfield and back.

She was young and you were, too,
but your heart was cold and gray
A pretty lass, as clear as glass, a diamond for a day
You held her hand, the promised land
her fears you did allay
Babe you had a bird in hand and in that hand she strayed

The sweetest words she’d ever heard,
they made her trip and sway
You took her down to the old red town
and had your wicked way
Morning came, nothing the same,
her feet had turned to clay
Babe you had a bird in hand and in that hand she lay

Time did pass, and she alas,
felt something that did weigh
A sad-eyed girl, your country pearl
had fallen, as they say
And when she cried, you turned aside,
you pushed her love away
Babe you had a bird in hand and in that hand she stayed

She was young and you were too,
but your heart was cold and gray
When the summer breeze turned to autumn leaves
you took yourself away
You never thought of her sad lot,
she faced a judgment day
Babe you had a bird in hand, a bird that hand betrayed

Years went by, (& all that implies)
And with age came dismay
Your thoughts transformed, your heart grew warm,
you changed your wicked ways
Remembered love, a simple dove,
your diamond in the hay
Babe you had a bird in hand, a hand you overplayed

You went down to the old red town,
the streets in dust now paved
Your pretty thing, a memory,
had long since slipped away
They said she died by the riverside
on a chilly autumn day
Babe you had a bird in hand but the bird has flown away

10. “Parnassus Fog” Bruce Cockburn (& Jenny Scheinman, violin) Small Source of Comfort (True North 2011)

Bruce Cockburn returns to add depth and new musical accents to his new acoustic small combo-recorded batch of songs and instrumentals. This duet between Cockburn’s early period mystically impressionistic acoustic guitar and boundary defying new music fiddler Jenny Scheinman (once a Bay Area-based Charming Hostess, more recently key element in nu jazz bassist-composer Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors from her current base in Brooklyn) is a soundtrack to a movie that needs to be shot on Parnassus hill by the U.C. Medical Center between the Haight District of Kezar Stadium and above San Francisco’s Sunset District. Oh, and during the summer when the fog rolls in at sunset. GPS won’t find it, use this track or better yet have Cockburn and guitar and Scheinman and her violin in your back seat playing this piece. You can also call the following cab.

[A full Driftwood review of Cockburn’s great new CD is forthcoming. -Ed]

11. “Taxi” Harry Chapin (& Tim Scott studio cello, Michael Masters or Yvonne Cable, road cello), Gold Medal Collection (Elektra Music 1988)

It was raining hard in ‘Frisco,
I needed one more fare to make my night.
A lady up ahead waved to flag me down,
She got in at the light.
Oh, where you going to, my lady blue,
It’s a shame you ruined your gown in the rain.
She just looked out the window, and said
“Sixteen Parkside Lane”.
Something about her was familiar
I could swear I’d seen her face before,
But she said, “I’m sure you’re mistaken”
And she didn’t say anything more.
It took a while, but she looked in the mirror,
And she glanced at the license for my name.
A smile seemed to come to her slowly,
It was a sad smile, just the same.
And she said, “How are you Harry?”
I said, “How are you Sue?

Through the too many miles
and the too little smiles
I still remember you.”
It was somewhere in a fairy tale,
I used to take her home in my car.
We learned about love in the back of the Dodge,
The lesson hadn’t gone too far.
You see, she was gonna be an actress,
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off to find the sky.
Oh, I’ve got something inside me,
To drive a princess blind.
There’s a wild man, wizard,
He’s hiding in me, illuminating my mind.
Oh, I’ve got something inside me,
Not what my life’s about,
Cause I’ve been letting my outside tide me,
Over ’till my time, runs out.
Baby’s so high that she’s skying,
Yes she’s flying, afraid to fall.
I’ll tell you why baby’s crying,
Cause she’s dying, aren’t we all.

There was not much more for us to talk about,
Whatever we had once was gone.
So I turned my cab into the driveway,
Past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.
And she said we must get together,
But I knew it’d never be arranged.
And she handed me twenty dollars,
For a two fifty fare, she said
“Harry, keep the change.”

Well another man might have been angry,
And another man might have been hurt,
But another man never would have let her go…
I stashed the bill in my shirt.
And she walked away in silence,
It’s strange, how you never know,
But we’d both gotten what we’d asked for,
Such a long, long time ago.
You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.
And here, she’s acting happy,
Inside her handsome home.
And me, I’m flying in my taxi,
Taking tips, and getting stoned,
I go flying so high, when I’m stoned.

12. “Talk To Me of Mendocino” Kate & Anna Mcgarrigle (Kate McGarrigle) Kate & Anna Mcgarrigle (Hannibal/Warners 1975)

Don’t make this trip with the meter running. You’d better negotiate a more modest fare or rent a compact. Keep the windows rolled down, the McGarrigle Sisters’ harmonies are carried on the coastal breeze.

I bid farewell to the state of ol’ New York
My home away from home
In the state of New York I came of age
When first I started roaming
And the trees grow high in New York state
And they shine like gold in Autumn
Never had the blues from whence I came
But in New York state I caught ’em

Talk to me of Mendocino
Closing my eyes I hear the sea
Must I wait, must I follow?
Won’t you say “Come with me?”

And it’s on to Southbend, Indiana
Flat out on the western plain
Rise up over the Rockies and down on into California
Out to where but the rocks remain

And let the sun set on the ocean
I will watch it from the shore
Let the sun rise over the redwoods
I’ll rise with it till I rise no more

Talk to me of Mendocino
closing my eyes, I hear the sea
Must I wait, must I follow?
Won’t you say “Come with me?”

13. “The Perfumed (Forest) Garden Wet With Rain” Abdullah Ibrahim Africa—Tears & Laughter (1979) Celebration (Justin Time Music, Enja 2005)

Whether solo piano or Ekaya ensemble backed, South Africa’s jazz treasure has played this multi-titled song to fit his mood and vision. It’s delicacy will speak to people who would, if otherwise informed, be intimidated to play jazz. Mash-up with a spoken word “Song of Songs” is wholly appropriate.

14. “Dirge” Bob Dylan & Robbie Robertson, Planet Waves (Asylum 1974)

I went out on Lower Broadway
And I felt that place within
That hollow place where martyrs weep
And angels play with sin..

Like a slave in orbit
He’s beaten til he’s tame
All for a moment’s glory
And it’s a dirty rotten shame.

This might’ve been Dylan’s hipster Passover seder Aramaic closer, yet in a decidedly Ecclesiastical frame of mind. The droning piano hunt and peck that carries Dylan’s cantorial vocal through the Wilderness of Zim is matched by The Band’s Robbie Robertson plucking the gut strings out of an acoustic lyre last handled by King David. This duet format for Dylan seems closest to his point of inspiration and is later matched by his pairing of an equally unstuck-in-time piano drone duet demo where the gut-strings are plucked by Mark Knopfler on “Blind Willie McTell.” It was only released many years after the session for the Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series box set. Planet Waves, the 1973-74 song cycle with members of The Band became Columbia Records’ company man Dylan’s one-off gift to avid song-chasing record company-launching mailroom to mogul-in-the-making David Geffen for his Asylum label.

I hate myself for loving you and the weakness that it showed
You were just a painted face on a trip down to suicide road
The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel
I hate myself for loving you and I’m glad the curtain fell.

I hate that foolish game we played and the need that was expressed
And the mercy that you showed to me, whoever would have guessed
I went out on Lower Broadway and I felt that place within
That hollow place where martyrs weep and angels play with sin.

Heard your songs of freedom and man forever stripped
Acting out his folly while his back is being whipped
Like a slave in orbit he’s beaten ’til he’s tame
All for a moment’s glory and it’s a dirty, rotten shame.

There are those who worship loneliness, I’m not one of them
In this age of fiberglass I’m searching for a gem
The crystall ball upon the wall hasn’t shown me nothing yet
I’ve paid the price of solitude but at least I’m out of debt.
I can’t recall a useful thing you ever did for me
‘Cept pat me on the back one time when I was on my knees
We stared into each other’s eyes ’till one of us would break
No use to apologize, what difference would it make ?

So sing your praise of progress and of the Doom Machine
The naked truth is still taboo whenever it can be seen
Lady Luck who shines on me, will tell you where I’m at
I hate myself for loving you but I should get over that.

15. “Repΰlj Madar Repΰlj\Fly Bird Fly” Marta Sebesteyen & Muzsikás, Rabnota/Prisoner’s Song (Hannibal/Ryko, 1991)

The Magyar language does not sound native to the Indo-European language lands, and the only linguistic link seems to be a tenuous one with the Finns with whom Hungarian speakers are now linked academically into the Finno-Ugaric language family [And Estonians! Also, it’s a geographic, not really linguistic, grouping, like Chinese. -Jon, your friendly neighborhood linguist]. Magyars were the dominant tribe of a people some believe migrated to south-central Europe from Asia Minor and what is now Turkey. The wealth of folk music and folk lore collected by and traced back to Hungarian classical composers such as Zoltan Kodaly (pronounced Ko-diey) and Bela Bartok is vast. Muzsikás, the Magyar acoustic ensemble led by the roughly textured palm-played bass of Daniel Hamar and Mihaly Sipos’s violin and zither with Sandor Csoori’s earthy vocals, viola and Hungarian bagpipes, Peter Eri’s buzuki, Turkish horn, cello and vocals, Antal Racz’s zither and Levente Szorenyi’s drums and bass guitar, don’t enter the music through theory, they spent years practicing and playing long before Hungary’s youth decided to support a rootsy revival. When they added Magyar folksinger and Hungarian wood-flute player Marta Sebesteyen to sing lead on some vocals they could not have imagined the effect her tone within their own unique ensemble sound would have. It has become a shaping force on the nascent World Music scene. This track is Magyar melancholia of the most essential sort. Sebesteyen’s Hungarian wood flute enters at the edge of the sound spectrum like birdsong bleeding through the windowpane.

Fly, bird, to sit on my sweet darling’s soft shoulders
Take this letter to my family and my sweetheart
Tell them I am a prisoner in this dungeon
And in irons up to my knees

16. “Gloomy Sunday” [Vége a világnak (End of the world)[1], with alternate Szomorú vasárnap {Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈsomoruː ˈvɒʃaːrnɒp] [giggle, this is harder to read than the actual Hungarian -Jon]) (Sad Sunday) lyrics written by László Jávor, music by Rezső Seress} Heather Nova, South (V2 Records, 2002)

From Magyar melancholia to actual suicidal scenario as a recent film of the Nazis coming to an all-too-receptive Hungary depicts in setting the context for these young doomed music-intoxicated lovers. Heather Nova translates the melody’s orchestral swells to English forcefully, yet with the subtlety required by the music’s eddying whirlwind.

17. “Louisiana Rain Song” (Paddison-Pickford) Lillian Boutte, But Beautiful (1995 Dinosaur)

Yet another African-American regional musical treasure whose star has been welcomed more in Europe than in her own country. Although among musicians in the know, such as this song’s composer and lyricist as well as this album’s producer, Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John and the New Orleans musical elite, Lillian Boutte’s recordings and performances are held in high esteem. While some very strong post-Hurricane Katrina benefit concert footage of Lillian Boutte performing is viewable via YouTube, only her version of Randy Newman’s scabrous Good Ol’ Boys’ anthem “Louisiana, 1927 Flood” is posted, there is no visual record or even in-print CD available of this most precious of souvenir gifts brought back from a New Orleans visit by photo journalist David Belknap. The arrangement and orchestration that serves as prelude to Ms. Boutte’s exquisite vocal fits no musical genre comfortably, yet falls on the ears like the purest moist mist.

18. “Riverrun” (Tom Darter) Manring-Kassin-Darter, Riverrun (MKD Music)

Long running San Francisco alternative music curator, Larry Kassin, who is also a flautist and composer similarly better known and appreciated by fellow musicians than a public that relies too heavily on musical labels, recorded a trio double album of playful, exploratory and tonally pleasing original pieces composed by himself and fellow trio members Tom Darter on piano and Michael Manring (session marathon man) on electric bass and pedals. No musical memoir of life in the Bay Area over the last 25 years would be complete without a magical evening spent taking in some fresh, if hard to classify, musician or group at the acoustically delicious Noe Valley Ministry as part of Kassin’s SF LIVE ARTS series. Prior to the Noe Valley Ministry building closing for structural work, Manring-Kassin-Darter played their generous repertoire to an appreciative audience, with the double CD set now available through the MKD.com web site.

Slogging through another wet Portland, Oregon season without an opportunity to visit San Francisco, and already missing the possible demise of one of my favorite musical venues (although Kassin’s SF LIVE ARTS series has taken up residency at an apparently equally acoustically hospitable location at St. Cyprian’s church in downtown San Francisco) I ordered this live recording. Riverrun is the title of the musically cohesive, if wide-ranging set, and of the second track that delights and surprises every step along a tricky Tom Darter piano rip-rap, with swinging flute and fanciful electric bass blowing above and below like riverine wind and water currents duck-tailing a liquid seam.

—Mitch Ritter
A Lay Low Studios, Or-Wa blend especially for Driftwood Magazine

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2 comments on “Mitch’s Monthly Mix: April Showers Bring May’s Death-Defying Flow

  1. Thanks for this. I am very happy to be introduced to several new artists, and nostalgically glad to be reminded about Harry Chapin. I saw him play this song at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California, ca. 1978.

  2. […] there may seem to be some echoes of themes that surfaced in last month’s mix May Days Fade, especially the hidden track of Seattle’s King of Mongrel Folk Mark Graham’s “Workin’ On […]

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