Saturday, June 14, 2008

Glad Tidings

Just back from New Haven Conn. where I was honored to play last night a full set of my 30's Chinese pop arrangements from my 2001 album "The Edge of Heaven" after a farewell dinner for my good friend Nancy Chapman, the director of the Yale-China Association for the last 14 years, who is leaving Yale and decamping with her Chinese husband to Hong Kong soon...

Gary pays tribute to Nancy Chapman, head of the Yale-China Association for fourteen years, by playing at her request his celebrated album "The Edge of Heaven--Gary Lucas Plays Mid-Century Chinese Pop", Yale Law School Courtyard, New Haven Conn, 6/13/08

Gary and Ernie Brooks rock out at Yale at the Farewell Dinner for Nancy Chapman, Departing Head of the Yale-China Association, Yale Law School Courtyard, New Haven Conn. 6/13/08

Gary Lucas is the featured performer at the Farewell Dinner for Nancy Chapman, Departing Head of the Yale-China Association, Yale University, New Haven Conn., 6/13/08

Gary and Ernie Brooks rock out at Yale at the Farewell Dinner for Nancy Chapman, Departing Head of the Yale-China Association, Yale Law School Courtyard, New Haven Conn. 6/13/08

Gary with his 1928 National steel guitar performing "Songstress on the Edge of Heaven", Yale University, New Haven Conn., 6/13/08

Gary Lucas with members of the Yale-China Association student body, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. 6/13/08

Gary Lucas and Ernie Brooks lift the bandstand, Yale University, New Haven Conn. 6/13/08

Gary and Ernie tear down the walls, Yale University, New Haven Conn. 6/13/08

Gary and Ernie synchro system, Yale University, 6/13/08

Gary greets his old friend Nancy Chapman at the conclusion of his set honoring Nancy's 14 years as head of the Yale-China Association, Yale University, New Haven Conn. 6/13/08

photos by Michelle Averitt | Click to enlarge

The setting was the Yale Law School courtyard, on a beautiful, moonlit, warm summer's night--and it was a dream gig all the way around, thanks to ace sound man John Young (who plays in the excellent indie band Spottiswoode and his Enemies), who sent these crystalline melodies (a strange and beautiful amalgam of Tin Pin Alley, jazz and blues, and traditional Chinese motifs) skirling across the greensward in the fading twilight (I got a wonderful natural reverb bounce off the imposing Gothic Revival Yale Law School buildings which encircled me and the glittering and elegant crowd of Nancy's friends and colleagues, including the stately white-haired former US Ambassador to China James R. Lilley who was in Beijing during the Tienanmen Square crisis, and who in his after dinner remarks praising Nancy also praised the backdoor diplomacy of private organizations such as Yale-China for keeping Sino-American relations on a firm and even keel over many years)...the Old Boy and Girl network was out in force, and so I'd driven specifically up there with Harvard man Ernie Brooks to help swell the ranks, Ernie's uncle Preston Schoyer was actually one of the early directors of Yale-China, and in fact knew Nancy, as did Ernie's late mom, who was a trustee of Yale-China for years--and Ernie joined me on bass for a couple numbers from that album and a couple of tunes from our Gods and Monsters songbook. I received a very gracious introduction from Nancy at the dinner, and very much enjoyed meeting her lovely friends and colleagues and students (especially a young student guy from Hong Kong whom I sat next to at the dinner and who it turned out was a big fan and was quite familiar with much of my oeuvre)...special thanks to Trudy Loo for all logistical help for planning this gala event for Nancy Chapman...

I absolutely loved playing these art-deco 30's Chinese songs again--little jewels, little knippels, all of them-- especially in such a beautiful locale, it was one of the best gigs I've played in years--and I received an extremely warm reception from the crowd, many of whom had grown up with these songs in China. Very best wishes to Nancy Chapman and her family, and I thank her so so much for bringing me back to this gorgeous music again after a hiatus of a few years performing it in total in a concert setting--music which I will be performing more of again hopefully very soon, please keep checking my website for further details...

Just back from Europe the day before, a wonderful trip indeed, the Jeff Buckley Tribute at the Hard Rock in Paris on June 3rd went off like a charm, the place was packed with fans who'd come from far and wide for the event, and of course, excellent musicians from all over world that hard-working organizer Danielle Schuppert had invited there to pay homage to this fantastic legendary musician, including Jeff's bassist Mick Grondahl who flew in from Copenhagen, and cool new friends Claudia Macori from Italy, Glasgow's Billy Bates, Jonah Serene (Patt and Matt from London), Massimilliano Lalli from Italy, Andy McKay from London (who stepped up to the plate to belt out a fantastic "Hymne a L'Amour" with me to pinch-hit for the lovely Elli Medeiros, who was so great in rehearsal the day before at Campus Studios--thanks Gilles Ypremian and Jean-Francois Paubros for hooking that up for me--but alas had come down with a bad flu the day of the gig), and the excellent K.E.V.Y.N from Paris and his friend Ninet Tayeb had flown in specially from Israel for the tribute, and our version of "Mojo Pin", with Mick and his drummer, brought the house down...the lovely Hoody Goody (Sophia Queret) did an estimable version of "Dink's Song" with me, and my friends the filmmakers Ania Friendorf and Jerome de Missolz were there independently filming highlights (Jerome is the French director who has been working on a tv documentary for the Arte Channel entitled "Wild Thing", and who was in NYC earlier this spring and filmed me playing and speaking up at Gibson before heading off to shoot Iggy Pop in Miami for the same documentary)...speaking of interviews, the day before I flew over to Paris from NYC I was interviewed at the Knitting Factory by Yaron Ben-Ami of the European Jewish Congress for a new website they are starting aimed at young Jewish people, Yaron told me that I was the first interviewee he had sought for this new site as has for years been a tremendous fan of my "Busy Being Born" album on Tzadik (a Jewish-themed album for young people), and so had tracked me down (blush blush)...

One of the absolute highlights of my Paris sojourn was collaborating with Yael Naim on new songs in her flat near the Bastille where much of her amazing hit album was recorded on home studio equipment--and so effortless it was, and so phenomenal the results!

I approached these sessions the same way I worked with Jeff Buckley, providing Yael with finished guitar instrumentals for her to embellish with her own lyrics and melodies--and Yael proved to be one of the most creative partners I've ever worked with since writing with Jeff--so adept, so intuitively able to create beautiful and memorable parts sparked off my music, she flawlessly improvised memorable lyrics and multiple vocal parts right on the spot, before my astonished eyes (and ears)...
and I cannot wait for you, dear readers, to hear our new songs!

Caroline absolutely flipped out when I played them for her shortly after I got home two days ago--as did my old friend Anne Warin, a wonderful Parisien singer in her own right who first introduced me to Yael back in NYC in the late 90's (the two of them were then starring all over France in the traveling musical "Les Dix Commandments"), and who showed up at Yael's flat on her motorbike right as Yael was singlehandedly mixing down our tracks...Anne gave me a ride on the back of her bike through the beautiful misty Parisien streets later that night around 2am, and we kept getting lost, and it took us an hour to find Menilmontant-- but I didn't care, it was a lovely midsummer night's dream, and I was buzzing--and am still buzzing-- from my mystic collaboration with Yael earlier that evening--there was real magic afoot that night...

I'm playing a big Gods and Monsters gala concert with special guests this Friday June 20th (my birthday! shhhhhh) at the Bowery Poetry Club at 10pm...and then I'm sitting in with Yael and her guy David Donatien and their band at Central Park Summerstage free concert a week from Sunday night on June 22nd, and if you're in the NYC area please come on down and check it out, Yael is an incredibly vivacious, engaging performer, who exudes sheer happiness in the joy of being alive...opening is Piers Faccini, another friend, and another excellent singer/songwriter I've written about previously...

"God is Alive, Magic is Afoot"




Anonymous University of New Haven said...

We have a few college students online from University of New Haven and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog
University of New Haven

11/26/2009 7:00 PM  
Anonymous gary Lucas said...

thanks alot Jen, I am very happy to know this!!

12/02/2009 8:32 AM  

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger

In Paris now to play the French Jeff Buckley Tribute tonight at the Hard Rock in Montmartre, word of the great rock innovator Bo Diddley's passing just filtering out through the French media more fixated on the death of YSL (but of course)...

Gary plays his instrumental "Rise Up to Be" (the basis for "Grace") at the French Tribute to Jeff Buckley, Hard Rock Cafe, Paris, 6/3/08

Mick Grondahl, Gary, and Israeli pop star Ninet rock out on "Mojo Pin" (co-written by Gary), French Tribute to Jeff Buckley, Hard Rock Cafe, Paris, 6/3/08

Click to enlarge

A Bo miscellania: I ran a contest awhile back to identify the player of the tremeloed guitar figure intro on Little Walter's "Roller Coaster", yep, 'twas Bo, same motif later appropriated by perhaps his biggest UK disciples The Rolling Stones on their live raveup "It's Alright", which also borrowed a lick or two from Bo's "Mumbling Guitar"--one of the greatest of all rock instrumentals...

Influential all the way down the line--Bo's self-mythologizing "The Story of Bo Diddley" was covered/retrofitted in a self-deprecating account by The Animals on an early album which details their encounter with the mythological Bo-beast in Newcastle ("that's the biggest load of rubbish I've ever heard in my life" says Bo on hearing his UK epigones at the Club a Go Go)...Bo's own version of this tune ("I'm a killer diller") later morphed into the Syndicate of Sound's circular recurring hypno-mantra "Hey Little Girl"...Captain Beefheart/Don Van Vliet's only charting single out of the box was his David Gates-produced cover of Bo's "Diddy Wah Diddy", a regional hit on the left coast which duked it out with Barry and the Remains simultaneous East Coast rival cover version (big in Beantown) for national chart supremacy (a good song is a good song, Lydia Lunch covered it years later)...Don also used to speak fondly also of marracca man Jerome Green's mush-mouthed "Bring it to Jerome", a boastful body advertisement later echoed in white rock come-on's such as Frank Zappa's "Motherly Love" and Grand Funk's "We're An American Band" of the greatest late Bo appearances on record is his star turn on "The Super Super Blues Band" album on Chess alongside Muddy and Wolf, where he plays genial straight man/referee between the 2 wary, antagonistic blues titans, with superb liner notes by the great R. Meltzer invoking Nietszche and Aristotle (best cut: "Diddley Diddley Daddy") (lots of contemporary hip-hoppers and BRC mavens make extravagant claims for "Electric Mud" as universally-scorned-upon-release but now legendary and inspirational audio Dead Sea Scroll... but really, that album suffers greatly in comparison to this one... yes Pete Cosey plays on them both...but it isn't the guitar work which makes it such a classic)...the most rock 'n roll moment in early 60's teen flick "Don't Knock the Twist" is an incendiary version of the eponymous Diddley theme song as performed by The Dovells, featuring Len Barry (nee Borisoff--any relation to Exotica's Andrey Borisov?)...and let us not forget Johnny Marr's fabulous slow-Bo guitar which kicks off The Smiths' "How Soon is Now?"...

and don't even ask what P. Diddy has to do with all this...

Let me also call your attention to the recent death of the fantastic David Gahr, old friend and mentor and force of nature (always On, constantly exhibiting a truly incredible elan vital), who was one of the best photographers of musicians ever, seek out a copy of his long out of print "The Face of Folk Music" with Robert Shelton's text (really someone should reissue this forthwith--come on, Backbeat Books!), he took some photos of me early in my career which accompanied some of the first articles on my work in Melody Maker (see here) and Guitar Player (see here)--in fact when I first met Jeff Buckley he told me he knew my work with Beefheart and had read about me in Guitar Player--and David went on to take some beautiful pictures of Jeff...

Hope all my French friends (and friends from all over, who happen to be in Paris today) can come to the Tribute to Jeff Buckley tonight at the Hard Rock, please come up and say hello...

Have to dash now as my old friend of 30 years Jacques Picoux, on shore leave from Taiwan, is about to serve a delicious home-cooked Chinese meal in his luxurious flat in Menilmontant to myself and photographer Ania Freindorf (an excellent photographer in her own right, Ania took the photo used for the cover of my "Coming Clean" album)...





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