Sam Amidon is, quite simply, one of our favorite musicians. His visionary music is mesmerizing, he somehow melds traditional Appalachian folk with experimental music. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Sam about his music-filled childhood (his parents are folk singers Peter and Mary Alice Amidon) and his transition from being a professional traditional fiddler to a groundbreaking solo artist.
Sam tells us about his discovery of avant-garde music and free jazz, what it was like to get lessons from Leroy Jenkins and his time in the indie band Stars Like Fleas. He also discusses his collaboration with hero Bill Frisell (2014’s Lily-O), the energy he finds in primitive field recordings, why he wore a kung fu outfit to his first solo gig… and a lot more. Sam has had a fascinating musical journey and he walks us through it all.
Sam’s 2017 Nonesuch album, The Following Mountain, is his first recording to feature his own songs. We can’t recommend it enough.
Audio note: There’s some cell phone distortion in the first ten minutes of this call; it gets better as the conversation goes on. Stick with it.
For guitar collectors, Zeke Schein is best-known as the long-time salesman you see at Matt Umanov Guitars. What you may not know is that Zeke is also the guy who discovered what may very well be the third photo of Robert Johnson ever unearthed (an eBay find erroneously listed as a BB King photo).
Since purchasing that small photo over a decade ago, Schein has had quite a roller coaster ride. He went through hurdles to get the photo authenticated, he gave the rights to the Robert Johnson Estate and he’s witnessed his unlikely eBay find get reprinted in national magazines. He’s also faced the wrath of blues historians, some of whom rabidly dispute that this is in fact a shot of Johnson at all.
Zeke has written a new book entitled Portrait of a Phantom: The Story of Robert Johnson’s Lost Photograph. Though ostensibly about the discovery of this image, Zeke’s book is about a lot more, too. He writes about his love for the blues, his time at Umanov’s, the New York music scene and why some of us are so compelled to learn more about our music heroes. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Zeke about the photo, his career selling guitars at one of the world’s most famous stores and much more.
This episode of our podcast is brought to you by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
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Our dear friend Bill Collings, founder of Collings Guitars & Mandolins, passed away on July 14, 2017 after a long battle with cancer.
We’re working on a tribute for Bill in the next issue of the Journal (and if you have any great Bill stories, we’d love to hear them). We also decided to share this talk he gave at the first Fretboard Summit in 2015. During this session, Bill was interviewed by Mark Stutman (Folkway Music). It was a lively, unfiltered chat full of laughs. We also fielded questions from the audience, talked about Waterloos and more.
RIP Bill. We’re going to miss our chats with you. –Jason
Twenty years ago, Lluís Gómez heard Banjo Paris Session, an album featuring the playing of Jean-Marie Redon and Bill Keith. It completely changed this Spanish musician's life. Gómez would go on to obsess over the five-string banjo, eventually tracking down lessons with Keith, Tony Trischka and Pete Wernick. These days, Gómez is considered the “Spanish King of the Five-String Banjo.” He’s a prolific performer, educator and music promoter, bringing a distinctly American music to new audiences in Europe. On this episode, he tells us about the state of banjo in Spain today, his excellent new record Dotze contes, the instruments that he loves and much more.
We are now shipping the Fretboard Journal #39. Use the coupon code PODCAST when you check out at fretboardjournal.com and get $5 off your order.
Lluís' site: http://www.lluisgomez.com/index-en.html
Today we’re talking to Jas Obrecht, acclaimed music journalist and editor. Jas is the author of the recently published anthology, Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. The book is filled interviews Jas conducted with music icons such as Nick Lucas, Ry Cooder, “Pops” Staples, Ry Cooder and Jerry Garcia. He tells us a bit about how it came about, what these amazing interviews were like, his days working at Guitar Player and much more.
The Fretboard Journal’s 39th issue is now mailing. Use the coupon code PODCAST when you check out and you’ll save $5 off any subscription, just for being a FJ Podcast listener.
This episode is sponsored by Retrofret Vintage Guitars.
Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music by Jas Obrecht (Amazon link)