The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116930 Message #3036927
Posted By: gene-peace
20-Nov-10 - 03:39 PM
Thread Name: John Fahey Docufilm: In Search of Blind Joe Death
Subject: RE: John Fahey Docu due out in Feb 2009
Part two (continued)
Dear Friends, Et Al
Where was I?.... so much, so little time:
Note- per part one, I use the terms "American Primitive" and "Primitive Guitar" as loosely interchangeable insofar as neither term has anything whatsoever to do with John's understanding or description of his own music. The only term that John used, and actually coined to describe his music at the time he was actually performing it was "Contemporary Guitar" as noted on ALL of the original Takoma releases beginning with Dance of Death.
BTW you'll note that one of John's epic works was "A Raga Called Pat", not "A Raga called Devil Woman"! :-) LOL
A perhaps better example of John's "coded" liner note biography is a very long section of notes devoted to describing the very bitter internal power struggle over control of the briefly merged Labels: Takoma & Piedmont.
Those notes are absolutely non-decipherable, except as jibberish, unless you were one of the individuals who were living through that horrific conflagration, either directly or indirectly. (Worse than any Divorce that you could possibly imagine!)- This too will be translated and explained soon.
A few more before tying it all together......
John Fahey was the founder of a (very) loose fraternity(for want of a better term), known as "The Order of The Thong" (TOOTH). The shibilith was a leather thong wrapped twice around your right wrist and tied with a square knot. You didn't pledge this fraternity, you were lassoed(sp?) into it, usually when under the influence... only a member could "thong" you, and thereafter only a member or yourself could replace the thong. (To do it yourself requires strong teeth, patience and a flexible jaw, and a taste for cowhide).
Only very close friends (being crazy helped) were inducted into this anarchical association; there was also a greeting dance which I won't describe right now, perhaps later.... :-)
At one time, in the mid-sixties there were as many as 16 members of TOOTH, as best I can recall; now only three, that I know of, are still alive (none of whom are on the previous list, and none of whom have as yet been interviewed. (well not exactly)
It will all become crystal clear shortly, I promise!
Now I guess I'm a traditionalist(no play on words to my FSGW friends intended)in my own way when it comes to Film Documentaries.
My approach, when planning a documentary film project is/was to always begin at the beginning (for many reasons)and fare forward following a "rough" set of story boards and allowing for the serendipitous vagaries of the universe to help define the path, knowing that the "END STUFF", meaning the most recent "stuff" was generally the easiest "stuff" to achieve/obtain.
In my field documentaries, the Occam's Razor theory & the heisenberg uncertainty principal always showed me the correct or best or most truthful path to follow.(Those terms being NOT mutually exclusive!)
So to the point now (yep there is one):
Once again we find Maestro Minsker beating the drum, on this site, for the upcoming, soon to be released, "Penultimate" John Fahey Film Documentary (from the beginning to the end) being produced by Tamarack Films (yep, the same film that was supposed to be released over a year ago, well admittedly shit sometimes does happen, right?)
Well, as I said, perhaps my documentary style is a might old fashioned, I'll let you be the judge-
Let's begin by examining James', the Tamarack producer's approach(w/the help and advice of Maestro Minsker, of course). The very first thing that James does (well truthfully not the Very first thing, but close) is to fly to England (this is well documented on the Tamarack site) in the hopes of hiring the services of Pete Townshend to be involved in their production. Meaning that Pete will be interviewed and wax eloquently about John Fahey, and John's incredible influence on Guitar Music, and the world in general, etc. Of course the fact that Townsend NEVER, EVER in his life met John or heard him perform live, quite naturally, being of no consequence! Anyway, James was apparently successful, flew back across the great ocean, assembled his crew, and flew back, this time to France to get the interview. We can only surmise that shrewd Townshend suggested meeting the Tamarack crew on the French Riviera (Antibes), we know this because of all of the "production stills" posted on the Tamarack Films website showing each and every member of the Tamarack crew w/Townshend "in the studio" as well as the great stills of the sun setting over the Riviera! :-)
Think about it folks- Airline ticket costs back and forth to France, hotel costs on the French Riviera, food costs on the French Riviera, Bar tabs on the French Riviera, studio time on the French Riviera, all monetary expenditures in order to get ONE interview!
Well OK, it was after all Pete Townshend, right? Right?
In addition to Tamarack's recent interview with Townshend, there are, admittedly, lots of other interviews, mostly with West Coast wannabe Stars, who either never met John, or perhaps befriended and jammed with John in what I call the "Later Years", beginning in the Portland Motel, and extending through the Revenate Records years and until his death in 2001 in Oregon; Tamarack most assuredly has lots of that stuff (it's already listed on their site), but as I said earlier, that's the "EASY STUFF", meaning the most recent stuff.
Jeez, I just can't but help thinking that this is a VERY BACK ASSWARDS PRODUCTION! (One man's opinion of course, and as we all know, "...opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one!"
Well, apparently, and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here, someone at Tamarack noticed that something was missing from their Film production, yep, in a blinding flash of the obvious they realized that they had NOTHING, repeat NOTHING from John's very most important beginnings, and Takoma Record's as well, Duh!
Seriously, nothing from Takoma Park, MD or DC for that matter!
Well I suppose anyone might overlook such a minor chapter in John's life right? Planning, continuity, establishing/intro storyboards, no sweat right? Right? WRONG!
So in a crash priority mode, they do the impossible (blaring of trumpets!), they actually send a tiny crew to the DC area Last Week (um remember, Tamarack Film release date Feb. 2009) under the expert direction of their Maryland Ambassador and resident expert, Maestro Marc Minsker, to do a wrap and put it to bed in three days, or was it four? :-)
Suffice it to say, they achieved the impossible, they actually got an interview with Nancy McLean, the flute player on one of John's more "primitive" earlier works, and a nice person, but decidedly NOT a close friend or associate of John's, and then, will miracles never cease, an interview with Joe Bussard, again NOT a close friend or associate of John's (as was previously noted). Good grief, if Spottswood was still living in Maryland they probably would have interviewed him too, one of John's sworn enemies over the Piedmont/Takoma conflagration! :-) But I digress.
In order to make the best of their "Mission Impossible", Ambassador Minsker lead them 'round Robin Hood's barn(s) in TK Park, I won't tell ya till later about their overlooking and not filming the TK Park DC home, well again, shit happens. However, I will/must give you this...according to an eyewitness, the team was observed scampering over large boulders in the Sligo Creek stream bed, and, I guess filming it too! Unfortunately, this Sligo Creek bears no relationship at all to the original Sligo Creek. Let me explain- by the mid/late fifties over development in the Takoma Park area had long since dried up the springs that fed Sligo Creek...in actuality it had become a storm drain sewer run-off, almost totally dry most of the time, and a raging muddy cesspool run-off after a storm. Hanging out at/in Sligo Creek in the fifties gave you an incredible education about condoms, sanitary napkins and broken branches to say nothing of cans and bottles and old tires. Can you say SATIRE!?
The creek was totally reconstructed (in the early 1980's) with retaining walls, brand new imported large boulders, and many years of volunteer "green workers" to bring it to it's current state, but you still wouldn't consider fishing in it because of the very high lead levels. Satire guys!!!
(By the way, John Lived a good mile or more from the creek, and the lazy slug that he was wouldn't bring him there very often under any circumstances! Oh, did I also mention that it smelled godawful?! :-)
Maestro Minsker, then lead them in a final Dash to where he was certain that they would find and film the world renown Ledo Pizza Parlor, an Adelphi Maryland (Near MD Univ.) landmark of over 50 years.(although exactly why he thought it was so important I fail to grasp), nevertheless, they arrived only to discover, according to Maryland expert/Ambassador Minsker, that it was OUT OF BUSINESS! Oh, dear! Well they filmed it anyway. However, dear friends, truth must come out, Ledo Pizza WAS NOT OUT OF BUSINESS, it had moved almost a year earlier to a new location closer to the MD Univ.Campus where it still makes it's world renown pizza!
The sad part is that if Minsker had done the very tiniest modicum of research, he and the crew could at least have enjoyed what many call the absolute best Pizza in the DC area! :-)
To the best of my knowlege that's the complete and up-to-date Tamarack story....by the way, I ommited references to Musicians like Peter Lang, and some other Annapolis area Musicians, whose selective and overly expansive (delusional) memories would have them jamming with John almost every day as well as being a gret buddy! Get a grip guys!
Oh, and as a wrap up for this segment, Adelphi Records & Films Archival Vaults of Tape and Film are and always have been available for use by bonifide documentarians, academicians & scholars of all sorts, including our more then five hours of sound sync color Fahey circa 1969/70...including available to Tamarack and even Minsker should they have even bothered to ask or inquire! Further, and serendipity reigns supreme, on the week-end of the "Mission Impossible" Tamarack trek to the Takoma Park desert land, the Adelphi Family was in Millheim, PA. attending the Third Annual "Harry Smith" Festival/revival at the beautiful and large venue known as the Elk Creek Cafe & Aleworks. If anyone from Tamarack had bothered to contact me, I would have re-directed them to the site, they would have received a royal welcome, and I'd have set up an interview for them with Peter Stampfel (Fugs, Holy Modal Rounders, etc.) who was performing at the site, and who actually knew Fahey in the early days a now irreplaceably lost interview that would have added serious credibility to Tamaracks efforts.... well I guess big boulders might actually have some charm, eh?
I final note- If you choose to go to the Tamarack Film website, in addition to the great production stills of Pete Townshend, you will also discover a PLEA FOR CASH DONATIONS TO SUPPORT THEIR FAHEY PROJECT!! Do I need to repeat that? I didn't think so.
I hope they had a really great vacation in France, I wonder whose money they were spending!? :-)
Best for now, my final post will explain all the whys and wherefores of the upcoming Adelphi DVD package of Fahey covering ONLY the "Middle Years", yes with Fahey on Film showing his true colrs, oh and also some incredible Fahey performances on the accompanying CDs.