Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Appalatin: Shady Grove-Gotita de Lluvia

This coming Monday, it will be a double anniversary for me and it perchance happens, by luck, that my 700th post falls on the second anniversary of “Reading Between the Grooves.” Every once and a while when I inch up towards an anniversary of this blog, I start considering that I cannot possibly continue to do this any longer. When that happens, someone usually writes or calls me explaining what value they have gotten from this simple tome.

This week, I've had two such emails – one was from an old musical friend from the 1970s who played in the Lightning Bar Band in Pittsburgh with the late Nick Brack, the late Rodd Willings, and my brother Chuck. King Richard, the harmonica player, dropped me a line yesterday.

I believe I only had the pleasure of playing with him once and that was at Mann’s Hotel in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania in 1978. I played my Wurlitzer electric piano at that gig; it was one that I will never forget. To get to this suburban hangout built in 1803 or thereabouts, I rode on the back of Nick Brack’s motorcycle through Pittsburgh until we made it to Mann’s. Nick took the curves hard and I think I lost a few years off my life.

I lost track of King Richard decades ago and he now makes his home in San Diego. His email explains how he found me.
“I read your history of Chuck Owston bio and was hoping to see Lightning Bar Band mentioned. I was bummed, but.......

Anyhow, this last July I came back to Pittsburgh and was determined to find Chuck (hadn’t seen him in 35 years).

I tracked him down on Carson St. at Club Café. My wife and I crept in and sat down in a booth in the back. I saw Chuck sitting in the front row and was stoked. I let him play a couple of tunes and then went over to him and surprised him!

We had a great chat reminiscing old times, and gigs in the Burgh. Ask him about it. I hope to see him again someday when I can get out of San Diego and fly back again.

BTW your web site is the bomb!! Check ours out sometime: http://eveningeclecticmusic.com/

Richard’s blog deals with all types of music – much like this one and I encourage my visitors to check out his. I hope that I have more than made up for my glaring omission of this band in the aforementioned bio of Chuck. King Richard states that the experience was “one of the coolest things I have done in my life and on the bucket list.”

The other important email deals with my feature artist from last Tuesday: Appalatin and their tune “Canta mi Gente.” Yani Vozos, who plays lead guitar and mandolin and provides vocals for Appalatin, wrote the following:
“We read your blog today about our song Canta mi Gente. Thank you so much for your interest in the music!

We had a great time in West Virginia last weekend and can't wait to come back beautiful people and beautiful landscapes.

WV public radio is doing an extended piece about us this weekend, see here http://www.wvpubcast.org/insideapp.aspx

I am sending you an MP3 version of Shady Grove so that you can listen. It features Fernando Moya from Ecuador on the charango (Andean lute/ukelele) with cajon for percussion and acoustic guitars. I would like to send you a hard copy of our CD as well, it really shows the breadth of musical styles that we cover and how we blend all of the flavors from the Andes to the Carribean to Appalachia.

Please send me your address and I will put one in the mail for you. Until then you can listen on our website, www.appalatin.com.
I got permission from Yani to post “Shady Grove-Gotita de Lluvia.” It is a great little number. He mentions the charnago – an instrument I always wanted to try since I heard a band named Chacabuco feature the instrument in the 1980s. It has double course strings like a mandolin and a total range of a ukulele. The strings are nylon. Some charangos are made from the shells of dead armadillos. For those not familiar with the instrument, it was used by Simon and Garfunkel on “El Condor Pasa.”

Yani also mentions a great little percussion instrument named the cajon. This versatile drum can mimic a number of different types of drums and it takes up little space when packing up the equipment for the evening. I haven’t had an opportunity to try one out – maybe someday.

The first song by Appalatin that I had a pleasure to hear was their rendition of the tradition “Shady Grove,” which shares a kinship to the English folk song “Matty Groves.” I normally don't feature an artist more than once in a month, but Appalatin is worth it. I hope you think so too.

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