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Hugh Laurie - Down By The River

Jim Martin 15 May 11 - 07:54 PM
Wesley S 15 May 11 - 08:37 PM
Ross Campbell 15 May 11 - 08:44 PM
Ross Campbell 15 May 11 - 08:47 PM
Jim Martin 15 May 11 - 08:59 PM
katlaughing 15 May 11 - 09:36 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 15 May 11 - 10:29 PM
Ross Campbell 15 May 11 - 11:08 PM
Effsee 15 May 11 - 11:08 PM
Jim Dixon 16 May 11 - 01:09 AM
Hamish 16 May 11 - 02:28 AM
Dave Hanson 16 May 11 - 02:37 AM
Gurney 16 May 11 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 16 May 11 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 16 May 11 - 05:26 AM
Will Fly 16 May 11 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 16 May 11 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 16 May 11 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 16 May 11 - 07:18 AM
Will Fly 16 May 11 - 07:30 AM
breezy 16 May 11 - 07:34 AM
GUEST,Gail 16 May 11 - 08:36 AM
GUEST 16 May 11 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 16 May 11 - 08:57 AM
Will Fly 16 May 11 - 09:02 AM
cooperman 16 May 11 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 16 May 11 - 09:16 AM
katlaughing 16 May 11 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 16 May 11 - 10:57 AM
MikeL2 16 May 11 - 11:19 AM
LesB 16 May 11 - 11:22 AM
Will Fly 16 May 11 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 16 May 11 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 16 May 11 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 16 May 11 - 12:52 PM
Will Fly 16 May 11 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 16 May 11 - 02:27 PM
Bonzo3legs 16 May 11 - 03:54 PM
Bonzo3legs 16 May 11 - 03:55 PM
Smokey. 16 May 11 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 17 May 11 - 02:49 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 17 May 11 - 03:56 AM
SteveMansfield 17 May 11 - 05:03 AM
Dave MacKenzie 17 May 11 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Ed 17 May 11 - 05:54 AM
GUEST 17 May 11 - 06:09 AM
Cusco 17 May 11 - 06:53 AM
Will Fly 17 May 11 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 17 May 11 - 08:08 AM
fat B****rd 17 May 11 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 17 May 11 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Peadar (formerly) of Portsmouth 17 May 11 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 May 11 - 11:58 AM
gnomad 17 May 11 - 12:00 PM
GUEST 17 May 11 - 01:10 PM
Will Fly 17 May 11 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 May 11 - 02:25 PM
Richard from Liverpool 17 May 11 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 May 11 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,Frug 17 May 11 - 06:54 PM
GUEST 17 May 11 - 08:47 PM
Richard from Liverpool 17 May 11 - 08:49 PM
cooperman 18 May 11 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 May 11 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 18 May 11 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 18 May 11 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 18 May 11 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 18 May 11 - 04:09 PM
Gurney 18 May 11 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 18 May 11 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 18 May 11 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Mayday 18 May 11 - 04:58 PM
Gurney 18 May 11 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 18 May 11 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 19 May 11 - 04:34 AM
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Subject: Review: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Jim Martin
Date: 15 May 11 - 07:54 PM

Interesting programme on ITV4 last night about Hugh with his band in New Orleans:

http://www.itv.com/perspectives/documentaries/hugh-laurie-down-by-the-river/


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Wesley S
Date: 15 May 11 - 08:37 PM

It says it's only available to be viewed in the UK. I thought we were allies, ect....


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 15 May 11 - 08:44 PM

The above link is for the "Making of Down by the River".
Here's the ITVPlayer link (29 days remaining).

Hugh Laurie - Down by the River

(May not work after Monday as the HTML incorporates "yesterday" as a keyword - if so you'll have to find it via the ITVPlayer site).

Anybody who has seen Hugh Laurie in "Jeeves and Wooster" or "House" will be aware he is an extremely proficient musician, in a wide variety of styles.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 15 May 11 - 08:47 PM

Wesley - There are references on other threads to methods of by-passing the block. I'll have a look when I get the chance. (You could check some of the other TV programme threads meantime).

Ross


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Jim Martin
Date: 15 May 11 - 08:59 PM

Wesley - you can do it with this but I think it costs:

http://www.my-expat-network.co.uk/?gclid=CNXP6_Ch66gCFQoa4Qods3KoCw


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 May 11 - 09:36 PM

Couldn't get any of those, on a quick check, but did find THIS TRAILER on youtube and it looks as though there are several other clips. What a neat show it looks!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 15 May 11 - 10:29 PM

Thought it was a bit rubbish. Alright he likes blues music. he was more convincing as Bertie Wooster.

The point that he misses - its not about whether he's got the right to sing them because he's white middle class. Serious musicians put their life on hold, and get those chops together. And play them different from other folk. Its not something you do in your summer holidays as light relief from being a hollywood megastar.

Dispespectful to Allen Toussaint, I thought. Like getting Picasso to paint the shithouse wall.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 15 May 11 - 11:08 PM

Re Picasso - at last year's Tate (Liverpool) there was a piece of wall from a terraced house where Picasso had been entertained at a party while attending a post-war Peace Conference in Sheffield. The lucky occupants had managed to preserve his contribution to their interior decor until the house was demolished, when the plasterboard was removed successfully in one piece. Who knows whether he contributed to the graffiti on the outhouse wall. Seems like something he would do quite happily.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Effsee
Date: 15 May 11 - 11:08 PM

Al..."Dispespectful to Allen Toussaint, I thought. Like getting Picasso to paint the shithouse wall."...and yet Toussaint gave him "respect" at the end of the programme!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 16 May 11 - 01:09 AM

Listen to this and tell me he's not a serious musician.

St. James Infirmary.

(OK, he's a better pianist than a singer.)


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Hamish
Date: 16 May 11 - 02:28 AM

I'm rather with Mr Whittle, abobe, on this. It's something that does p1ss me off, when success in one sphere is cashed in to push a profile in another. Okay, he's quite good, he's got a decent bunch of musicians, the production's good, but Hugh is no more than proficient. It doesn't really have the spark that takes it above pedestrian. Put it this way: if he wasn't who he is, then it wouldn't be creating any ripples.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 May 11 - 02:37 AM

St. James Infirmary, three and a halh minute intro, I'd lost interest by then.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Gurney
Date: 16 May 11 - 03:23 AM

Several actors that I know of are pretty good musicians, singers, and entertainers in other fields.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that someone who desperately doesn't want a proper job should have other strings to their bow. ;-)

I've also met 'serious musicians' who 'put their life on hold,' as Alan put it, and who never achieved much except personal satisfaction. If that. Along with most strivers in the field of Arts-with-a-capital-A. Should they be treated with automatic awe because they are single-minded? Or only the ones in the field that you like? I got chatting to a busker last evening, good singer/guitarist. Turned out his musicianship was a lure to catch new members for his church. He buttonholed me and it took ages to get away from him, politely. He played good soul and blues, though, very folky, with a voice like Johnny Cash's.


As a personal opinion, I wouldn't let Picasso paint MY shithouse wall. I'd want a tradesman who'd do a proper job. As Heinlein put it, "He used to be able to paint, but he got tired of it."


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 16 May 11 - 03:55 AM

Hugh was great at doing parodies of a range of singers in his UK "Fry and Laurie" series but his singing here is a disgrace. All he needs to do is black up his face and the job's complete!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 16 May 11 - 05:26 AM

I like Hugh Laurie. His version of Forty Ginger sailors was a high point of the Jeeves and Wooster series.

But this stuff is crazy. Its like when all the celebrities used used to queue up to play the packing case with Mound City Blues Blowers. I'm sorry - the fact that they were film stars and politicians doesn't make them Eddie Lang or Mez Mezzrow. The music sounded bloody awful to me.

If you want to know how St James Infirmary should sound. Try Gerry Lockran, Josh White, Louis Armstrong -even our own Dave Berry with Jimmy Page on guitar. Its not a holiday project to make music worthy of man like Allen Toussaint.

By the way - out of courtesy most producers don't say to clients - this is total crap. They hum along and are encouraging.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 11 - 06:46 AM

Just had a listen. HL has a decent voice and is a reasonably good guitarist and pianist. So have/are many, many others - I suppose all we can say is, Good Luck to him. He's in the right place, at the right time, with the right connections. When you've made your bones in one area of showbiz, it's just that much easier to get a foothold in another. He seems a decent guy who is sincere in what he does, but I wouldn't go out of my way to catch him in concert.

Here's someone else who has a lovely voice and a sweet guitar style - he lives in Devon and plays blues for fun:

Ian Gardner - "Meat Shakin' Woman"

(I put up a thread about Ian yesterday). Now this isn't a plea for getting Ian into showbiz - he isn't interested - it's just making the point that good music doesn't have to come from celebrities. It can come from round the corner, if you keep your ears open. The audience in the little church hall in Bradninch certainly loved him performing this last Wednesday evening, in spite of the old bearded guy playing with him.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 16 May 11 - 06:49 AM

Re St James Infirmary, I listened as advised above to this piece of cocktail lounge muzak. So the guy may have musical talent but what he displays here has nothing to do with the real thing. This is blues (and if I was nitpicking I would say strictly speaking it isn't a blues)for non blues afficianados. One of the DVD's in Scorses's much publicised and hyped series on the blues was concerned with the British blues scene of the 60' and featured such well known blues performers as Tom Jones and Lulu. This is just more of the same.

I'm just off to listen to Big Maceo play some real piano, that should work. There is just so much of the real thing available that material like that under discussion is completely superfluous.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 16 May 11 - 07:01 AM

I suppose it comes back again to the old chestnut of "if it opens up a new world to people who may be unfamiliar with the type of music, is it such a bad thing?".


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 16 May 11 - 07:18 AM

I think this is a bit harsh. He appeared to me to be a very competent amateur, although clearly not in the same league as the professionals he was playing with. But presumably none of them are so desperate for work that they couldn't have turned him down if they didn't think he would make a half-decent fist of it.

His passion for music, and blues in particular, came across very clearly and eloquently, I thought.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 11 - 07:30 AM

He appeared to me to be a very competent amateur

I would agree totally. So, if he wasn't Hugh Laurie, would he have got a 40-minute programme, record deals, appearances on "Later", etc., etc.? Probably not.

I don't begrudge him all this in any way. And yet... and yet...

I've just been reading Sam Charters' 1959 book "The Country Blues" - written at a time that was so much closer to the people mentioned in it. Very few of the singers had anything but a hard and dirty life, with just a few brief periods of prosperity and fame. So, play and listen to what you like - why should anyone object - but spare a thought for the real stuff.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: breezy
Date: 16 May 11 - 07:34 AM

Patronising


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Gail
Date: 16 May 11 - 08:36 AM

Like Howard, I think people are being a bit harsh. I really don't think this programme (or his new album) attempts to promote him as a top-notch professional musician. I thought it was more like seeing another side to someone we 'know'.
Perhaps Allen Toussaint just enjoyed himself without checking the Who's Who of blues musicians first.

This TV series is called 'Perspectives' and its whole point is to show famous people doing something they love which isn't what they're famous for. I think that's fair enough.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST
Date: 16 May 11 - 08:41 AM

So, if he wasn't Hugh Laurie, would he have got a 40-minute programme, record deals, appearances on "Later", etc., etc.? Probably not.

Of course he wouldn't. Neither would he have been able to put together a band of that calibre, or have Tom Jones drop by to do a number. Fame opens doors. Nevertheless it didn't seem to me to be simply a vanity project, more an opportunity to do something he loves in the company of real experts. Surely folk musicians, of all people, should be able to relate that?

He is well-known and well-liked, and there's a curiosity value in seeing someone who's successful in one field displaying talent (which he undoubtedly has) in another. I doubt a straight documentary about the blues would have received such a prime slot or achieved a fraction of its audience.

I thought many of his comments about music and his passion for it were thoughtful and well-expressed. Sometimes an enthusiast can express these things better than a professional.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 16 May 11 - 08:57 AM

Who mentioned Adrian Edmonson?

Same story again.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 11 - 09:02 AM

I have absolutely no objection to Hugh Laurie or anyone else doing exactly what they want to do as long as, it doesn't frighten the sheep.

One of the greatest bits of programming about the blues that I ever saw was very many years ago, when BBC2 dedicated almost a whole evening to the music. It was called "Blues Night" and lasted, if I remember correctly, about 6 hours. It was hosted by John Walters and BB King and showed the most wonderful films of people like Lightning Hopkins, Leadbelly, etc., plus a great film about Chicago in the 1960s, a film of Broonzy playing in a Parisian cellar, Studs Terkel chatting with a blues pianist in a bar, Eubie Blake - and many others.

What was very interesting was that John Walters was trying to make the point that white people couldn't sing blues like black people, quoting Elvis as an example - and BB King immediately contradicted him, saying Elvis was a real blues singer. Great stuff!

Now - that was programming!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: cooperman
Date: 16 May 11 - 09:15 AM

I feel sorry for him having to endure countless experts telling him how to do this and how to do that. Not much chance of his own style or true feelings coming out in the music. Came over to me as a bit of a lightweight but I suspect he isn't.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 16 May 11 - 09:16 AM

Its that discrepancy that Will mentioned that has me worried. I can see it doesn't worry any of you, but maybe it should.

Think of Blind lemon Jefferson - 'fat, dirty and depraved' - Charters called him - a blindman dying out on the streets in a snow storm.

Robert Johnson - murdered over some trivial nonsense - and the policeman says - I never bothered the guy that did it - he was 'a good family man'.

Arthur Crudup in tears - he got his show coat out for his British tour in the 1960's with Manfred Mann. But the rats in his accomodation had chewed holes in it.

No doubt Hugh will do his radio spots, schmooze with all the usual smooth arse gits - Harding, Whispering Bob, etc. get major reviews. Meanwhile a towering genius of Americana like Jack Hudson never gets played because some of the same gits decide its not folk or country or fish or fowl.

Down by my bumhole.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 May 11 - 10:51 AM

My what a picky, judgemental bunch some of you are. Would it be okay if he were unknown and performed/recorded exactly the same? Nevermind...to each his own. I think it's a great celebration of music and hope it does encourage many more to find out about the blues, etc.

I do wish he'd kept up with the piano on the St. James Infirmary with no voice. It was a bit of an abrupt addition and I was really enjoying the piano, but still it's just another rendition. If he'd tried to do it ala some of the others mentioned, I reckon you'd have been all over him for that,too. Can't win for trying, sometimes.

kat


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 May 11 - 10:57 AM

saw what Hugh Laurie had to offer on Tools Holland show a couple of weeks ago..

too smarmy and dull for my tastes..

Read the long interview in this weeks Radio Times,
but still couldn't be bothered making any effort to watch an entire hour show last night.

Besides, the mrs hogged the telly all evening for Lady Ga Ga 'event' on BBC3


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: MikeL2
Date: 16 May 11 - 11:19 AM

Hi

I agree with the view that Hugh is no more than a competent amateur.

But we shouldn't be surprised at this "cross over" from one successful career to another. There have been many.

And many have gone the opposite way....Most rock singers were picked up and put into movies when their acting talent was limited to say the least.

" Money makes the World go round"....

Cheers

Mikel2


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: LesB
Date: 16 May 11 - 11:22 AM

For what it's worth I thought it was excellant. To get blues on prime time TV and all you lot can do is carp about it.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 11 - 11:39 AM

To get blues on prime time TV and all you lot can do is carp about it.

No carping on my part, but I'm still not one of those people who say that, just because there's so little of a particular musical genre on TV, I ought to be grateful for what is shown, regardless of what it is.

I'm a huge lover of blues - have been for the last 50+ years - and have seen people like Broonzy, Gary Davis, Terry & McGhee, Jack Duprée, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Memphis Slim, Rosetta Tharpe and others - live. If I really want to see people of that calibre on the screen, I'll go to YouTube, otherwise I have masses of wonderful recordings on vinyl, on CD and on my iPod to listen to.

What I'd really like to see on TV are some serious, in-depth documentaries of blues musicians - there was one on Robert Johnson some years ago - but I think my chances of that are probably approaching nil! :-)


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 May 11 - 11:56 AM

bizarrely, Lady GaGa's concert on Saturday night,
spotlighting a young cool trumpet player,
and a defiant speech in defense of teenage jazz club membership
probably achieved far more positive good
promoting a minority interest genre of music to a mass youth audience;

than anything any smug 'educated' middle-aged middle-class English luvvee could hope to do
to enhance the PR profile of 'the blues'.. ???


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 May 11 - 12:02 PM

hmmm.. so... it's Monday today then ..???

oops.. yes of course I meant "Lady GaGa's concert on Sunday night..



.. must start living and sleeping normal hours again one day..


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 16 May 11 - 12:52 PM

Sorry if this is thread drift but It's the first time I've ever heard the story of Arthur Crudup's coat getting eaten by rats. Could I ask you for your source? Having been involved with some of the blues musicians touring at that time I am interested

Hey Will Fly are there many more of us that can remember seeing Big Bill Broonzy in England. I have tapes of the programmes that you mention; 5 hours solid blues on a Saturday night and the Robert Johnson. Just wish I had the time space and equipment to put them on disc.
I just wish too that with all the repeats that are shown by TV companies these days that we could see more of the genuine article.

But the media or most of it seem live in cloud cuckoo land.

That's enough, I'm off to a session.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 May 11 - 01:53 PM

Hi Hoot - I used to have the blues programmes on VHS but lord knows where they are now! I was very young when I saw Broonzy - 1952 I think, but I can't be sure now. I didn't really know who he was - taken to the concert by an uncle - but was impressed!

The greatest blues experience of my life was seeing Rev. Gary Davis at the old Free Trades Hall in Manchester - '64 or '65, can't remember now - at the top of a bill which included Buffy Ste. Marie, Jack Elliott & Deryll Adams and Julie Felix. RGD was incredible - mesmerising - and I was on Cloud 9 having seen one of the greatest blues performers ever.

That's where I'm coming from...


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 16 May 11 - 02:27 PM

Tom McGuinness told the story one morning on Start the Week, or somesuch. I think Hugh is well worth a floorspot, as a bluesman - but hardly a gig.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 16 May 11 - 03:54 PM

The greatest blues experience of my life was at the Refectory Ballroom in Golders Green, North London in 1965 when I first saw Eric Clapton play in John Mayall's Blesbreakers. Nobody has ever come near the way he was playing at that time - not even EC!!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 16 May 11 - 03:55 PM

Damn this keyboard - Bluesbreakers!!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Smokey.
Date: 16 May 11 - 06:15 PM

Considering he hasn't spent his entire life gigging, unlike most of the luminaries mentioned here, I thought he did very well indeed, and showed great respect for where he was and what he was doing. I don't think he has any illusions about his place in it all - he seemed to be speaking (and performing) from the heart and with honest humility. He obviously loves that music and it was a pleasure to witness it.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 17 May 11 - 02:49 AM

Contrary to popular belief - very few of the great musicians manage to make a living from Blues and the like - gigging, if you like - that's the work of jobbing musicians like myself - a different calling.

Theres a moving passage right at the end of Mez Mezzrow's biography - where he urges listeners to forgive the clinkers he and his fellow musicians had committed to record. He says its not the fault of jazz - its to do with the fact that they have had to earn a living.

Think of Sleepy John Estes who didn't play for thirty years.

No the difference between those guys and Hugh is that at some point in their lives they realised it was the most important thing they would ever be offered this side of the grave. The chance to create - not given to every man. And they laboured mightily at it. Everything the full works.   They got it together - they made or stumbled upon - or just felt thay had a chance of making that phantom synthesis - which is beauty.

And the reason the public don't get to hear this level of creativity, and value it, and become aware of it - is that the media is too full of celebrities like Hugh, and the inside of their homes, and their holiday projects.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 17 May 11 - 03:56 AM

Well, Hugh is more than a "celebrity" (a much debased word), he is a creative artist too, albeit in a different field, and a very successful one. Like many of us who earn our living away from music, he feels the urge to be creative in that sphere as well. Good luck to him, I say.

I don't earn my living from music, but like him I've made a couple of records, and if my band were to be offered a hihg-profile gig (an unlikely prospect) I'd jump at it. I also take every chance I get to play alongside full-time musicians. I know plenty of others on the folk scene in exactly the same situation. Why should we begrudge him the same opportunities, just because his fame opens a few more doors? I can think of quite a few others, including full-time musicians, who seem to get more exposure and attention than their talent would seem to justify.

The programme wasn't about the blues, it was about one man's relationship with it. If he hadn't been famous, the programme wouldn't have been made. You may have vies on whether that would have been a good or bad thing, but speaking for myself I doubt I would have made an effort to watch a straightforward documentary about blues, whereas I was interested in this (if only to see how good he really is).

Importantly, it did show that making music isn't just the preserve of professional musicians.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 17 May 11 - 05:03 AM

I've just listened to the podcast of Hugh Laurie talking about this project on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, and he was very realistic about and resigned to the fact that blues fundamentalists would hate it and regard him as, well, pretty all the negative stuff that's been said in this thread really.

Maybe he looked at Mudcat as part of his background research.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 17 May 11 - 05:46 AM

I thought it was great. A guy who loves the music getting the chance to perform it with other guys who love the music. Isn't that what it's all about?


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 17 May 11 - 05:54 AM

Fully agree with Dave and Steve above.

He clearly loves this music, and wants to perform it. All the best to him. The embittered attitude of people like Alan Whittle perplexes me.

It's music! It's there for everyone to enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 11 - 06:09 AM

'The embittered attitude of people like Alan Whittle perplexes me.'

Let's face it, I'm one of those angry young men.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Cusco
Date: 17 May 11 - 06:53 AM

THE greatest person to play the Blues I ever heard was the man on my first ever Blues record I bought. An EP (I couldn't afford an LP.

It was Country Line Special by Cyril Davies and his Rhythm and Blues All Stars. I don't care whether there have been better players, singers, or people with darker skin and harder lives.

From him, Alexis Korner, John Mayall and others I'm sure others will know the specifics of comes pretty well everything we're talking about. All the British Blues Men and the resurrected Americans of preceding periods.

If anything is wrong with Hugh's conribution to it all. I would say his voice is a bit on the weak side.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 May 11 - 07:18 AM

I have that same EP - Nicky Hopkins on piano, etc. - and it's a splendid disc. Cyril D was a driven man and gave his all in those recordings.

But - alas - how black and white (no pun intended) the debate has yet again become. Criticism of Hugh Laurie somehow turns into another example of Mudcat curmudgeonliness.

A guy who loves the music getting the chance to perform it with other guys who love the music. Isn't that what it's all about?

Of course it is, and it goes on all the time everywhere - and I hope every 'Catter has the opportunity to do the same in their own circle - but it doesn't mean that I can't look upon the performance with a critical eye. It also doesn't mean that I can't wish for something a little better on TV. I've just listened to him singing "Hot Tamales" and, frankly, it's very average indeed. Hugh Laurie seems to be an immensely likeable man and a very accomplished actor. He's also a reasonable musician but - and here's the point - he doesn't cut it enough for me to rate him as anything out of the ordinary.

As others have said, good luck to a good man for doing what he loves and believes in. It doesn't mean I have to swallow his performance whole or look at it without any critical faculty. As for it being a useful way of introducing blues to people who've had no interest in, or experience of blues, well... that's also debatable. If you're going to go on that tack, why not have someone like Bill Wyman present a programme on blues? Wyman has an immense knowledge of the genre, he's been a professional musician all his life, and he's compiled a fascinating and interesting book on the subject. For example.

I can't go through life giving a warm blanket of approval to everything that appears on the telly, however well-meant. Nor do I go through life trashing everything on telly. We all make choices and, as long as those choices are reasoned, we ought to be able to state them on a forum like Mudcat without being labelled as curmudgeons.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 17 May 11 - 08:08 AM

I very much doubt the programme makers intended to make a programme about blues - if they had, it would have been very different and probably presented by someone else. Neither was it intended to introduce people to the blues. The programme was about Hugh Laurie and his enthusiam for music. Why should they make a programme like that? Because he's a well-known and well-liked actor who is able to speak interestingly and thoughtfully on the subject, and who is also an accomplished pianist (although I agree he is weaker as a singer and is a fairly indifferent guitarist).

Most people seem to assume that you can only be good at one thing. On the folk scene we are perhaps more accustomed to amateur performers attaining near-professional standards, but for many people it comes as a surprise that amateurs are capable of that. It's interesting to see someone do that and talk about it, just it's interesting and a bit unexpected to learn that Brian May of Queen is an astrophysicist or that Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden works as an airline pilot in his spare time. That's why Hugh Laurie gets attention for his musical activities, and that's why this TV programme was made. To judge it as a documentary about the blues is to miss the point.

The quality of his performance can quite rightly be criticised. However quite a few of the comments appear to begrudge the fact that because of his fame his musical activities have received more attention they deserve. It's true that most of us have to be satisfied with a few minutes on YouTube shot in our front rooms while he gets an hour-long prime-time TV slot and a chance to gig with some top musicians, but wouldn't you jump at that if you had the chance?


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: fat B****rd
Date: 17 May 11 - 09:51 AM

More power to Mr. Laurie. Just to infuriate folks even more he's on telly again next week. Yes, having the audacity to be born middle class and also to be an actor who likes and performs music which some people think they own must be heartbreaking.
PS I think that Country Line Special EP is great. First white blues I ever heard. Clsely followed by Muddy Waters, Terry & McGhee and Leadbelly of course.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 May 11 - 10:22 AM

" ... Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden works as an airline pilot in his spare time."

What?! I had to read that several times. Is this statement true? Does he just turn up at an airport when he fancies a spot of flying?


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Peadar (formerly) of Portsmouth
Date: 17 May 11 - 11:31 AM

Amen to Howard

If you malign the decision of the producers to put this show together, you're missing the point.

Have you bothered to read the series info?

As HJ said, the production was not a documentary about the blues, but one person's relationship with the music -- both as a fan and as a musician (amateur or otherwise). That concept that's completely in line with the other shows in the series: Andrew Lloyd Webber on pre-Raphaelites, or Ian MacKellen on the painter Lowry.

So you're bitter that HL's interest in the music and his 'average' ability to perform it gets him airtime? Tough.

Always remember they create TV programs to make money: And the harsh truth is that the segment of the population that finds the passions of these celebrities interesting ...

...is infinitely larger than those that care about your opinions about how "THE MUSIC" should be presented.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 May 11 - 11:58 AM

What I object to is the dreadful, dreadful, very dreadful, phoney voice that he adopts! It's just ...well... dreadful!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: gnomad
Date: 17 May 11 - 12:00 PM

Specially for Shimrod: BD Wikipedia page It seems to be true, though it appears to be a bit more formal than just fancying a bit of flying today.

As to the programme, I saw it and was interested that HL's formal piano instruction had been so short. I am no blues aficionado (nothing against it, it is simply outwith my experience) but he seemed to be a reasonably competent amateur who had the chance and ability to communicate something of his enthusiasm for this style of music. He held my attention, and I learned just a little.
As such I suspect that the programme fulfilled its purpose, which cannot have been to satisfy the real blues fan. TV in the UK generally does only surface stuff for music, depth is reserved for soaps, "reality" shows, and sport.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 11 - 01:10 PM

'Always remember they create TV programs to make money: And the harsh truth is that the segment of the population that finds the passions of these celebrities interesting ...

'...is infinitely larger than those that care about your opinions about how "THE MUSIC" should be presented.'

Stand by for Kerry Katona's album of operatic duets with Placido Domingo.

Al, remember to sign your name beside the GUEST appellation.
mod


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 May 11 - 01:16 PM

Always remember they create TV programs to make money

As an ex-employee of a broadcasting company, I'm well aware of that - and it's why I watch very little TV these days.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 May 11 - 02:25 PM

I have just watched the whole programme. I thought his playing in the style of Roy Byrd was fine but the music as a whole didn't really take off. His singing like all attempts by English people to sing blues was abysmal.
I think that this is the longest plug for an album that I have ever seen.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 17 May 11 - 03:37 PM

I'm a big fan of Hugh Laurie as an actor, I haven't really had much to say on this one, because I think I agree with the sentiments of others. Speaking as a pianist (classically trained, not blues) I think his piano playing is very good and I really admire it. Less keen on the singing.

My need to say something was triggered by Hootenanny's comment above: "His singing like all attempts by English people to sing blues was abysmal."

I think the problem is EXACTLY that it wasn't like an English person singing the blues. It was quite clearly an Englishman trying to sound American while singing the blues. I don't see anything wrong with the idea of singing the blues with real English accents, just the same as I think that (some) UK hip-hop is fantastic without trying to be imitative of American hip-hop. It's its own thing, it has its own clearly developed style.

I guess my point is - I do think Blues can reach beyond American cultures and speak to our British cultures, and I would like to hear a talented Englishman or woman singing the blues as an Englishman or woman. And this just wasn't it for me, as impressive as I find Hugh Laurie's piano playing.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 May 11 - 04:53 PM

Richard, I don't know if you know many blues lyrics but I would suggest that you read a few or listen to a few and see how they would sound with an English accent. Or, do you mean that English songs should be written and sung in a blues format and thus become blues??
Just asking.

The Blues does reach out to British culture, that is why so many of us including Hugh Laurie it seems have been listening to and enjoying the real thing for years. Instrumentally many people from many cultures can perform the genre very well but when it comes to singing, forget it. When I sing Blues it is strictly in the privacy of my own home.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Frug
Date: 17 May 11 - 06:54 PM

HMmmmm So amongst those forgettable British Blues pretenders we have Jo Cocker, Maggie Bell, Jo Anne Kelly, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Elkie Brooks, Robert Palmer, Van Morrison, Eric Burdon, Rory Gallagher


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 11 - 08:47 PM

a) I think that the language of all songs is malleable. You just have to look at the evolution of Child ballads as they made their way from the British isles to America.

b) We are perhaps being a bit general when it comes to the "English accent". Perhaps we are thinking of Hugh Laurie's Etonian voice as the model here because of the context of the thread, but this might be misleading. But the British Isles has a pretty exciting linguistic diversity. I don't think blues lyrics would necessarily sound so alien among many of our dialects. I'm not a blues expert, but just be provocative - I just looked randomly through some of the lyrics of my favourite, Robert Johnson, and I don't think there are many things there that would sound out of place coming from a Scouse mouth.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 17 May 11 - 08:49 PM

(Sorry, above was from me, forgot to log in)
Also, would like to note that when I say "coming from a Scouse mouth", I don't necessarily mean my own, as I have rather a peculiar accent!


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: cooperman
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:36 AM

Blues is feel not accent or even language. Claude Bourbon is a favourite of mine. I prefer his blues songs in French and I don't know the meaning of some of the lyrics! I once heard an american white guy trying to sing like an american black guy and it was comical.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 May 11 - 06:03 AM

Frug, in my opinion Darn Right! Bearing in mind that what I said was about vocal NOT instrumental prowess.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 18 May 11 - 12:43 PM

harsh Mr Hoot!

To be honest, I think i like the English version of blues and r and b - more than the American really.
More urbane, literate and with links to European cabaret and (it has to be said - though hotly disputed by the thickos of this world) links to our folk music. St James Inf. and the Unfortunate Rake being a good case in point.

really its more like real folk music than most current English folk music. that's why so many folkbands (Bellowhead, Steeleye Span) borrow from it.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 May 11 - 03:21 PM

There's no doubt that a musician of any nationality or colour can play the blues, and if such an individual has the talent, and immerses themselves in the genre, they will become good - even - great at playing the blues.
But singing the blues? Now that is another matter.
A lot of Britains blues singers are merely doing an impersonation; a very good impersonation in the case of someone like Joanne Kelly but it has to be said that it's not the "real deal".


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 18 May 11 - 03:57 PM

'it's not the "real deal". .....'

unlike Carthy's impersonation of an 18th century sailor.

Why do you think Clapton's song of unrequited love Layla, and his song about his small child dying - has resontated with millions of people worldwide....

Surely its up to the audience to decide on the 'reality of the deal'. And in a democracy - the English traddies would have lost their deposit.

You can't help feeling the reason so many English folkies are springing to Hugh's defence is something to do with class solidarity. Let's face it with that 'England can muddle through' voice and a loose leaf folder for the lyrics he couldn't be bothered to learn - he would fit in great with the average singaround.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:09 PM

Clapton will always be the white boy singing the blues in a pseudo- American accent. That may be an attractive sound, but it isn't the "real deal".
We can't talk about Eric's singing the blues in same breath as Son House, Bobby Bland, B B King etc.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Gurney
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:24 PM

I put on the DVD 'Lightning in a Bottle' last night (nothing on TV!)and the opinions of the (surviving, real, superficially-interviewed, and chatting) bluesmen on there were as diverse as any here. So there ain't no answer, folks, just opinions.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:28 PM

Clapton's take on the blues has affected and pleased far nore people than the artists you mention. That's what clapton did with his life, and with the form of music called the blues.

Tears in heaven, and the unplugged album came out a few years after my Mum died. I can remember my father hearing the song and his eyes filling with tears as he was remembering his wife.

Just how many folks does a song have to make people feel the humanity within themselves - before its a folk song.

Sorry we're back to 1954 and all that.....


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:38 PM

I'm talking about Eric's blues singing! Not his songwriting!
A friend of mine lost her son (in his twenties) in a climbing accident and she totally relates to "Tears in Heaven".


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Mayday
Date: 18 May 11 - 04:58 PM

Huh. As a Blues fan lucky enough to have lived in Chicago and to be good friends with Delmark owner Bob Koester's son, I did not know several things going into this:

- Personal dislike/preference for a given individual's artistic style or even their heritage influences their actual ability and merit as artists and human beings. Also, each television show must be every possible television show.

- Robert Johnson sang the blues. Extremely well. Better than Hugh Laurie. Hugh Laurie would totally deny it.

- Suffering in life, rather than practice added to talent, radically increases technical proficiency in music. As with any musical genre, blues musicians are performers, and the huge majority have been talented amateurs rather than geniuses who are also full time professionals.

- All African Americans and all European Americans sound alike, separately and equally, with no crossover. Toussaint MacColl and BB King in no way sound(ed) upper class compared with me. You can tell Dr. John from every single other blues musician in New Orleans just by listening, and Stevie Ray Vaughn sounded like his little brudduh.

- American folk music is way better than English or Scottish folk music. This is not subject to personal taste, do not dispute it.

- Hokey accents and deliberately malicious "Negro Minstrelry" are exactly the same thing.

- Hugh Laurie is a barely competent piano player.

I frankly can't imagine anyone who listened without prejudice coming to this last conclusion. I wager I could fool anyone with this opinion by merely detaching his image from a performance. I'd peg his singing voice as pleasant. In these qualities he is much like Thomas Dolby, one of my favorite musicians. Who incidentally gets to be a professional musician because I hear engineering pays awfully well when you're a genius inventor. I wouldn't complain if I could accompany myself at all on any instrument, so I'd be thrilled to be as average on guitar.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: Gurney
Date: 18 May 11 - 05:28 PM

Hi, Mayday. How long have you been a spokesman FOR Hugh Laurie?


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 18 May 11 - 06:49 PM

What Clapton and many other singer songwriters (indeed like myself) do, is use the techniques of the blues and gospel and American country music. That is to say a song like tears in heaven is permeated throughout with gospel and blues feeling. if you like, that is its traditional roots. the songwriting is what HE does with the blues. You don't have to write about traditional blues subjects - because you take the form as your starting point. You personalise it. But the blues is the basic building block.

In the same way that say Dave Webber or Peter Bellamy have used English folksong as a source of inspiration and technique.

Why you think its not valid if a person from iceland or Russia uses American roots music as a source of inspiration is your problem. the millions of people (like your friend) who can relate to this music tell another story.


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Subject: RE: Hugh Laurie - Down By The River
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 19 May 11 - 04:34 AM

Mayday,
As your nom de post indicates, you are in need of help. I would suggest you ask your friend's daddy Ole Bob to let you spend a lot of time listening to his record collection. Then you might be able to understand why so many folks do not appreciate Hugh Laurie's attempts.

Hoot


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