I have been writing for the Woodstock Times lately and I'm really enjoying it. It keeps me on my toes while working on my book and songs for my next CD. I can't say I was shocked when I heard that Bowie had passed on a few weeks ago since I knew that he was sick but none the less, I took it hard like many of us did. Bowie was always so alive, changing from the Spaceman to the Thin White Duke and back to Ziggy.Strange in a way that he wound up living in the area some 9 miles down the road from me. It's the end of an era.
I have known Larry Campbell and his beautiful wife Teresa Williams for way too many years to recall. These are two of the nicest people that you will ever want to meet. Larry always was always an incredible musician, a step above the rest. I worked with Larry and Teresa along with our pal Lincoln Schleifer on a few projects in the 90’s and early 2000 and we all became very close friends.
The work I did with them I consider to this day to be the best work I ever did looking back. I knew than and always knew that Larry and Teresa were meant for something special. When Larry left Bob Dylan’s Band and came up to work at the Barn, in Woodstock NY, with Levon Helm he opened up and started to bloom along with his wife and partner Teresa. I went up to most of those Rambles and watched the two of them grow into a mature act meant for the “big time” as Levon used to say.
When a friend asked me if I would cover the Woodstock Film Festival for her I was hesitant at first however after learning that the premiere film was “The Poet of Havana” a Documentary about Cuban Poet and Folk Singer Carlos Varela, I jumped on board immediately. I had been listening to Carlos music for months now after hearing a cover of his song “Muros y Puertos “in English “Walls and Doors” by Jackson Browne on Jackson’s new CD.
So after many phone calls and meetings I was invited to dinner by Ron Chapman, the director of the film and we had planned an interview later in the evening. Walking into the Japanese steak house there he was, sitting in between the members of his band dressed in black, dark sunglasses and sporting his customary black beanie knit cap on his head. As I approached the table Carlos jumped up in the middle of eating and walked towards me. Before I could utter a word he wrapped his arms around me and gave me perhaps the tightest hug I ever had. I hugged him back. “Eat, join us please”, he signaled me and conveyed the words to his keyboard player, Aldo Lopez Gavilan’, who is a jazz/classical virtuoso in his own right; He had joined the band to learn from Carlos. When I asked Ron what a musical genius like this could learn from Carlos, Ron responded, “It’s not about the music for Aldo. Aldo did not join to learn music but to learn from Carlos the humility and way of Carlos, how he gives to his people” said Ron.
Carlos performs many free concerts in Cuba for his people. He believes that he has a duty to make more than a living with his music. We talk about songwriting and he tells me that he does not like being called “the Cuban Bob Dylan”. ““This is a way of speaking that the journalists use. I really like Dylan, but I’m not the Dylan of Cuba. We’ve taken very different paths and also some very similar as well. I’ve never liked the labels that the journalists use to place you in a style”. Carlos tells me this through his translator Evry Mann.
We go on to speak about how horrible music is today in the United States as in Cuba as well. “These are the universal laws of the radio. The law of the radio is, if you give the people shit, they will eat shit”, we all crack up laughing knowing how true Carlos words are. Ron tells me that I am now accepted as a member of their family. In the short time that we are together we all become very close. I take out one of my CD’s and give it to Carlos as a gift. He immediately reached into his bag and hands me his newest CD, “No Es El Fin” which in English means “It’s Not The End”. It was a more than a pleasure to meet this Poet, Singer and Legend in Cuba and to call him my friend. Carlos music is some of the most moving work I have heard in years. Check it out if you can.
It was a great experience for George Quinn and I to go up to and visit our old friend Artie Martello who is the man behind Mostly Folk. Artie has been creating these fantastic Podcasts for a while now and has had some really amazing guests over the course of the last year. Mr. Martello has recorded and published 100 shows to date. We were number 101, a new beginning of sorts. . All of us had a real nice visit with Artie and wife Rain and spent over five hours chatting, playing some live tunes, some new, and an assortment prerecorded tracks that I may use for a compilation CD latter this year. The prerecorded tracks are songs that I wrote and recorded over the course of twenty years or so with Lincoln Schleifer, Larry Campbell, Joel Diamond, Tony Garnier, Richard Crooks, Alfreddo Scotti, John Putnam, Artie edited down to a bit over 90 minutes. Give a listen and let me know what you think. You can send your comments to the guest book on this site. Enjoy folks!
His lyrics are written on the broadside of a raven’s wing, and they mix with his music somewhere on the other side of beyond. To his listeners’ ears, he has created five entirely new and separate shades of black, each representing a sense—a memory that has long been forgotten, by chance or by purpose, and by the time we’ve almost remembered it, the next verse slides through the delicate wingspan of his voice.
In this action, Charles Lyonhart becomes both our savior and our slayer. As savior, he delivers us to a soft landing just as we’re taking a sweaty fall back into a long-repressed nightmare. As slayer, he pulls us from a foggy bliss of reminiscence, and at once we are jolted into reality of our ever-present.
A Bronx-bred New Yorker, Lyonhart came of age during that great creative handshake between the Beat poets of the 1950s and the Folk singers of the 1960s. The Beats rejected the caged institutional meter of academe and put into words the undeniable thin line between the beauty and tragedy of human life. Patti Page’s price of a doggie in a storefront window was all grown up, and the waggle in its tail became the hackled hair of what happens when the sun goes down and the glassed up shiny of the display shatters.