Friday, February 29, 2008

Learn a thing or two from the Old Dogs

I’m not here to argue the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I’m here today to tell you, fuck new tricks; you could stand to learn a thing or two from the old dogs. So many people look back on the classic rock era with such nostalgia, as though it were a greater time, when the gods themselves descended from heaven to serenade us with rock and roll like sweet nectar. The thing most of us forget is that this era was only 30 years ago, and most of these herculean demi-gods are still alive, and playing music in some form or another.

No, I’m not going to subject you to a page of Keith Richards jokes, and I’m even going to completely ignore the recent Zeppelin reunion. As is my style, I want you to learn something today, even if it is just an old trick, from a tired old dog.

My dad had a huge record collection, and aside from Don McLean, one of my favorite records to throw on was Idlewild South by the Allman Brothers Band. A band that was initially formed in 1969, and has been playing music in some form or another for the subsequent 39 years, deserves some respect. The band had a ‘revolving door’ lineup over this long time, and specifically, my favorite member (who did not join until 1990) was Warren Haynes. While initially Haynes was a backup slide guitarist with the Bros, he would step to the front in 1994 when he started his own side project Gov’t Mule. Haynes would take along a few members of the Bros. band, and continue to play with both groups. Since this time, Haynes has continued to play with Gov’t Mule, released multiple solo albums, and played with a handful of other amazing bands of the 90’s and 2000’s (for example; The Black Crowes).

Now, here I go again and start getting all foreign and weird and shit. Really, I am nothing more than a pretentious mother fucker who started a blog to feel musically superior to you ants. I’m going to talk about the scandanavians... AGAIN. This time, it’s a Finn by the name of Pekka Pohjola. Pohjola is one of those freaks of nature who is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He got his start on the bass with the Finnish group Wigwam in the 70’s, but quickly excelled beyond the realms of a mere rock band. Think of Pohjola as a orchestral composer for the modern rock age. You may claim to have never heard of him before, but I guarantee you’ve heard his work. DJ Shadow sampled one of Pekka’s tracks in the song Midnight in a Perfect World, off the highly successful Endtroducing album. The original can be heard here.

Let’s go next door and say ‘hi’ to our friends the Swedes. Anders Osbourne, while being the youngest in this crowd, also has one of the most interesting life stories. Osbourne was born in Sweden in ’66, but left his home at the age of 16 to hitchhike through Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and eventually the US. In 1985, Anders ended up in New Orleans, and within a year, wrote his father a letter saying that he wasn’t coming home. For the next 23 years, Osbourne would root down in Louisianna, and network with a vast array of blues musicians. His gruff, witty blues style was a perfect fit in the down trodden New Orleans, and he would find ultimate refuge playing songs like Stoned, Drunk and Naked in the French quarter.

Lastly, we need pay our respects to an old bluescat who is no longer with us. Many people may say that James Brown was the godfather of soul, and the eventual birth of Hip Hop. R.L. Burnside may have been overlooked because of his southern blues influence, but he had a hand in the funk game as well. Robert Lee Burnside was born in 1926 and spent most of his time around Mississippi. Burnside would play the blues his whole life, however the bulk of his recordings were never released until the 1990s. Come On In, would be one of his most successful albums, however even it would barely see the light of day. Burnside died in 2005, after living a life with a guitar in his hands.