Listener’s Circle Vol. 40
inTheir Musicon April 2, 2020
Dear Listener’s Circle Members,
Thank you for your support of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. It is times like these when our great American musical traditions can still bring a smile to our faces and bring us together spiritually, even if we must remain at least six feet apart. To our astonishment, our presenting partners are steadfastly optimistic, rescheduling shows and moving forward in the face of great uncertainty. Like most of us, they are hunkered down at home and dreaming of when their audiences can come gather and celebrate at their festivals.
Our senior artists are staying safe at home as well, but looking forward to getting back on the road to play for you all soon. Traveling has always been a major theme in the blues. Since the Great Migration, the blues has hit the road and has never stopped. This set of tunes explores freedom of movement, as we head into our uncertain future. Hold on, and enjoy the inspiration of all the Music Makers.
Included in this song list are the great New York Greenwich Village folkies, Patrick Sky and Paul Clayton. Pat, a Southern boy, sat in with Buffy St. Marie at a folk club in Florida and followed her to New York where he performed on her early seminal records for Vanguard and soon had his own record deal with the esteemed label. He fell in with the likes of Dave Van Ronk, Phil Ochs, and the great Paul Clayton who befriended Bob Dylan when he first came to NYC and was a vital influence to a young Bob.
Paul was from the earlier folk era of the 1950s and a bridge to the next folk boom in the 1960s. Not long before his sudden death, he recorded an amazing 45 entitled, “Gingerbreadd Mindd.” This was an extremely rare recording I came across after years of searching for his old field recordings of Music Maker artist Etta Baker. Pat Sky had told me about the track, describing it as a seminal “acid-folk” 45 that was only heard by a few of Paul’s closest friends.
After much deliberation with Paul’s niece Barbara Souza, we issued this track. To our amazement Alan Merrill called the office one day. Alan wrote “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a mega hit performed by Joan Jett. Alan was so excited, as he was the bass player on Paul’s recording of “Gingerbreadd Mindd!”
Alan, a detailed and loving storyteller, recounted how he and Laura Nyro visited Paul at his tiny Greenwich Village walk up. Paul Clayton knocked the socks off these two young teenagers with an amazing performance. Afterward, Paul offered Alan an opportunity to play bass at an upcoming recording session. Although he had never done so before, Alan jumped at the chance to make the session and played on this track. I could go on and on about his stories following his friend Laura around. Alan checked in with us every year, he was a friend and a donor to our mission.
Yesterday, I learned Alan suddenly passed away from the coronavirus. It was, and is still sinking in, only 69 years young. My last conversation with him was sharing a list of labels that might be interested in his new record. Now he is gone.
Thank you for supporting the Music Makers and we will continue to aid our elder musicians in this pandemic and share their legendary music.
Be here now. Love. Be Happy! And Be Well!
– Timothy & Denise Duffy