Catalog » CD & DVD's » Essential Music » CD - John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman In Concert 1982 (2 CD and 1 DVD set)
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"To label John Renbourn an English folk guitarist, or Stefan Grossman an American blues guitarist, amounts to the same: nothing. Renbourn, who's best known for his Pentangle association and fine solo albums, has played medieval, early classical, traditional, blues, regional English folk and contemporary jazz compositions. The obstreperous Grossman, who's also cut a pile of solo albums, has played classic and contemporary ragtime, delta blues, boogie, and regional American folk compositions, among others. Yet the performers and last Tuesday night's capacity crowd at the Other End shared a single-mindedness that makes one music of all this eclecticism: a passion for the acoustic guitar and its infinite expressive possibilities. The evening was not only one of the most musically exhilarating in my experience, but one of the most educational as well as a relaxed class on styles and technique and a distillation of British and American sensibilities.

John Renbourn performed solo opening with several traditional tunes from the British Isles. Renbourn looks the part like Robin Hood's Littlejohn perhaps:a big-boned frame; broad ruddy cheeks; short, curling fair hair and beard; small, amused blue eyes. When he sings about Glasgow town and fair maids,we followers of traditional music believe him largely because of the songs simple beauty, but we also, I think, harbor a bad case of merrie olde anglophilia.Renbourn doesn't sigh wistfully for a lost world simultaneously bawdy and innocent he recreates that world. He also played some instrumentals. Whetherhe's doing an alehouse blues or a 16th-century Italian dance, Renbourn's guitar style is characteristically delicate and controlled. He took a swigon his beer bottle and bent over Booker T. Jones's Sweet Potato, which opens with a taut bluesy little riff and then builds almost in spite ofitself. Renbourn couldn't hold it in check, and the piece burst open at the seams as he leaned into it, the chords and fingerings hurtling faster andfaster. Finally the tune receded into the neat, unassuming opening tiff, and ended. "You're amazing, John," somebody blurted out. The audience laughedand applauded, agreeing.

Enter Grossman, sporting a bright colored ukulele shirt and an uncompromising New Yawk accent ... Grossman is a wild, funny carny man. He bangedand pulled at his bass strings, occasionally flatpicked, and sang-talked old blues and rags. Both guitarists commanded immediate respect. But whilethe audience was awed by the modest Renbourn's music-sculpting, they stamped and rebel-yelled for Grossman, who seemed antsy just to spit the songsout, playing strident delta blues and Reverend Davis ragtime like nobody's Aunt Sally. Grossman's brand of Americanism is as mythic as the world oftraditional British balladry: red hot dogs and red hot mamas, a restless, cheerful braggadocio.

They played together for a final set that included the loopiest rendition of Candy Man I've ever heard, and a few numbers from their elegantnew hybrid, Stefan Grossman & John Renbourn CD (SGGW119). The album is allinstrumental, all except for a Mingus composition original, and a good deal more studied and dreamy than anything I'd have thought Grossman would puthis hand to. Though it's much more bluesy, lilting, and sly, it reminds me of John McLaughlin's acoustic album, My Goal's Beyond, with its gentle-jazzwhispers and dramatic pauses. If one has ever picked or plucked, the album is an invitation to figure out new ways to contort the fingers. If one hasn't,the liner notes by Karl Dallas of Melody Maker skillfully decode who is playing which guitar line and when. As the concert did, the albumpulls together the improbable and comes up with a surprising complement, rather like ordering a measure of mead to quaff with your hot dog. And whynot?" - Jan Hoffman/The Village Voice

Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)

CD One: 
 1. Looper's Corner 
 2. The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers
 3. Twelve Sticks
 4. Cocaine Blues
 5. Pretty Girl Milking A Cow 
 6. Tightrope
 7. Make Believe Stunt
 8. Medley: Sheebeg An Sheemore/Drunken Wagoner 
 9. The Assassination of John Fahey
 10. Medley:Cincinnati Flow Rag/New York City Rag/Hot Dogs

CD Two: 
 1. Medley: Judy/Angie
 2. Lindsay
 3. Medley: Lament For Owen Roe O'Neill/Mist Covered Mountains of Home/ The Orphan
 4. So Early In The Spring
 5. The English Dance
 6. Great Dreams From Heaven
 7. Sweet Potato 
 8. Medley: Bonaparte's Retreat/Billy In The Lowgrounds
 9. Goodbye Porkpie Hat 
 10. Candyman
 11. Midnight On The Water
 12. Spirit Levels 
 13. Mississippi Blues

 1. Looper's Corner 
 2. The Shoes Of The Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers
 3. Struttin' Rag 
 4. The Assassination of John Fahey
 5. Tightrope 
 6. Medley: Judy/Angie
 7. Whitehouse Blues 
 8. Medley: Trotto/The English Dance 
 9. Goodbye Porkpie Hat
 10. Candyman 
 11. Spirit Levels
 12. Take A Whiff On Me

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