Saturday, July 7, 2018

Geoff & Maria Muldaur – Pottery Pie; Sweet Potatoes


GEOFF & MARIA MULDAUR
Pottery Pie
Omnivore Recordings

Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band were early favorites of mine when I was first getting into music and record collecting as a kid in the 1960s so I was already familiar with (and a fan of) the husband and wife team of Geoff & Maria Muldaur – stalwarts of the Kweskin band – when they recorded Pottery Pie in 1968, the first of two LPs they would release as a duo. Remarkably, Pottery Pie and the other LP, Sweet Potatoes, have just recently been reissued for the first time in North America.

Geoff and Maria alternated lead vocals on Pottery Pie, an album that seemed to point in directions both would go on to explore later on. Geoff’s version of “Death Letter Blues,” for example, is the kind of track he’d record some years later as a member of Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, while Maria’s version of “Me and My Chauffeur Blues,” presaged the tribute to Memphis Minnie she would produce years later.

Geoff’s other highlights on Pottery Pie include a great version of “New Orleans Hopscop Blues,” originally recorded by Bessie Smith, that combines an updated classic blues feel with a New Orleans-style horn arrangement, and a soulful rendition of “Prairie Lullaby,” a classic recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1932, that features great playing by Bill Keith on pedal steel and an uncredited fiddler (who I suspect may have been Maria).

And I must mention Geoff’s fun version of “Brazil,” a classic Brazilian jazz tune that would go on to give Terry Gilliam’s film its name when he used this recording in the movie.

Among Maria’s highlights is her sexy definitive version of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and the traditional gospel song “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations” with nice harmonies from Betsy Siggins.

But my absolute favorite track on Pottery Pie is Maria’s gorgeous version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind,” with a sublime electric guitar solo by Amos Garrett, perhaps the first of many notable guitar solos Amos would play on albums with both Muldaurs.

GEOFF & MARIA MULDAUR
Sweet Potatoes
Omnivore Recordings

While Pottery Pie seemed to be equal parts Geoff and Maria, Geoff dominates Sweet Potatoes, their second and final LP, released in 1972. It’s a charming album, but just a tad disappointing that only three of the 10 songs featured Maria.

That said, some of my favorites of Geoff’s leads include “Havana Moon,” a very atypical Chuck Berry tune given a bluesy arrangement featuring Paul Butterfield on harmonica, and “Dardanella,” a New Orleans jazz standard whose intricate arrangement points at the kind of work Geoff would do decades later with his album of Bix Biederbecke material.

Another favorite is the languid but delightful version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Lazy Bones,” with a lead vocal and patented guitar solo by Amos Garrett, that certainly presaged the duo album they recorded on Flying Fish after playing together in Paul Butterfield’s Better Days.

Maria’s three lead vocals are also highlights of Sweet Potatoes. These include “Blue Railroad Train,” a Delmore Bothers song that Doc Watson introduced to the folk revival in the mid’60s, and the title track, a lovely little number on which she’s accompanied by pianist Jeff Gutcheon, the song’s composer.

But my absolute favorite is Maria’s beautiful version of “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be),” a jazz standard sung decades earlier by Billie Holiday. This version features another dreamy guitar solo by Amos as well as strings and woodwinds – including Geoff on clarinet. 

I should note also that the cover painting for Sweet Potatoes was by the great folk and blues performer and visual artist Eric Von Schmidt.

These two albums are much more than footnotes in the discographies of two artists would go on to give us – and still continue to give us a half-century later – much great music.

Find me on Twitter. twitter.com/@mikeregenstreif

And on Facebook. facebook.com/mikeregenstreif

--Mike Regenstreif

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Morning with Mike Regenstreif – CKCU – Saturday June 23, 2018


Saturday Morning is an eclectic roots-oriented program on CKCU in Ottawa heard live on Saturday mornings from 7 until 10 am (Eastern time) and then available for on-demand streaming. I am one of the four rotating hosts of Saturday Morning and base my programming on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches format I developed at CKUT in Montreal.

CKCU can be heard at 93.1 FM in Ottawa and http://www.ckcufm.com/ on the web.

This episode of Saturday Morning can be streamed on-demand at https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/128/38092.html.

Extended feature: “New” Songs of Woody Guthrie.

Carolann Solebello- True North
Shiver (Elizabeth)

Reggie Harris- Sheep, Sheep/Little David
Ready to Go (Reggie Harris Music)
Nefesh Mountain- Bound for the Promised Land
Beneath the Open Sky (Eric Lindberg & Doni Zasloff)

Moore & McGregor- Summertime
Dream with Me (Ivernia)
David Francey- The Flower of Colonsay
The Broken Heart of Everything (Laker)
Rod MacDonald- Genius
Beginning Again (Blue Flute Music)
Tret Fure- Lessons from Home Plate
Roses in November (Tomboy Girl)

Annie Lou- Witty Girl
End Zone (Annie Lou Music)
Pharis & Jason Romero- Old World Style
Sweet Old Religion (Lula)
Andrew Collins Trio- Cello Song
Tongue (Andrew Collins Trio)

Fink, Marxer, Gleaves- Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie
Shout and Shine (Community Music)
Rory Block- Do Your Duty
A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith (Stony Plain)

El Coyote- By the Gate
El Coyote (El Coyote)
Tom Russell- St. Olav’s Gate

Ry Cooder- Jesus and Woody
The Prodigal Son (Fantasy)

Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg & Wilco was released 20 years ago today. It was the first album of “new” Woody Guthrie songs created by contemporary artists with lyrics found in the Woody Guthrie Archive – a project spearheaded by Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter. The next 14 songs are but a small sample. Visit http://woodyguthrie.org/biography/newsongs.htm for more information.

Billy Bragg & Wilco- Walt Whitman’s Niece
Mermaid Avenue (Elektra)
Lisa Gutkin- From Here on In
From Here on In (Lisa Gutkin)
The Klezmatics- Come When I Call You
Wonder Wheel (Jewish Music Group)
Wenzel- I Don’t Feel at Home on the Bowery No More
Ticky Tock: Wenzel Sings Woody Guthrie (Conträr Musik)

Joel Rafael- Ramblin’ Reckless Hobo
Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion- Folksong
Folksong (RTE 8)
Arlo Guthrie- My Peace
Here Come the Kids (Rising Son)

Nora Guthrie & Mike Regenstreif at the 2007 Ottawa Folk Festival
Lucinda Williams- House of Earth
John McCutcheon- Old Cap Moore
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer- Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
Little Blue Egg (Red House)
The Del McCoury Band- Ain’t a Gonna Do
Del and Woody (McCoury Music)

Janis Ian- I Hear Your Voice Again
Billie’s Bones (True North)
Jonatha Brooke- Little Bird
The Works (Bad Dog)
Jackson Browne & Rob Wasserman- You Know the Night
Note of Hope (429 Records)

David Clayton-Thomas- Sonny’s Dream
Canadiana (Antoinette/ILS)
Ron Hynes- 30 for 60
Stealing Genius (Borealis)
Cris Cuddy- The Night the Lights Blew Out (in St. John’s Newfoundland)
Dream On (Vanishing Castle)

Myles Goodwyn- Isn’t That So
And Friends of the Blues (Linus)
Jesse Winchester- Wear Me Out
Marcia Ball- A Little Louisiana
Shine Bright (Alligator)

Ron Weiss- Be a Child
Arrow & Heart (Ron Weiss Music)
Ali McCormick- Tapedeck
That Place You Know (Red Leaf Music)
Howie Hooper- Striking Matches
The Art of Procrastination (Howie Hooper)
Kinky Friedman- Me & My Guitar
Circus of Life (Echo Hill)
Laurie MacAllister & Jimmy LaFave- Poison and Wine
The Lies the Poets Tell (Laurie MacAllister)
Andrew Collins Trio- Coming into Hard Time Blues
Tongue (Andrew Collins Trio)

Dakota Dave Hull- Frankie and Johnny/Leavin’ Home
This Earthly Life (Arabica)

I’ll be hosting Saturday Morning next on July 21.

Find me on Twitter. @MikeRegenstreif


--Mike Regenstreif