Saturday, September 29, 2018

Loudon Wainwright III – Years in the Making

Years in the Making
StorySound Records

As I’ve noted before, I’ve known Loudon Wainwright III for a long time. I first met – and heard – him when he was married to my friend, the late Kate McGarrigle, in the early-to-mid-1970s. After the marriage broke up, I’d occasionally see him at folk festivals, at Kate’s when he’d come up to Montreal to see their children – Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright – and booked him for a couple of concerts at the Golem when he’d come to town for those visits. In 2000, we sat down and did an extensive and very candid interview on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches radio show. Most recently, in 2015, we had a nice visit in Clearwater, Florida after a concert he did while Sylvie and I were on vacation there.

Years in the Making is “a comprehensive 2-CD audiobiography of 45 years’ worth of outtakes, live recordings, radio performances and demos that comes beautifully packaged in a 64-page hardcover book featuring a lifetime’s memorabilia – from Loudon’s birth certificate to the cover page of his will. Among those making cameo appearances on some of the tracks are Kate, ex-partner Suzzy Roche, sister Sloan Wainwright, long-time collaborator Chaim Tannenbaum, Steve Goodman, and all four of his kids – Rufus, Martha, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Lexie Kelly Wainwright.

The songs are sequenced in seven thematic groupings beginning with “Folk.” This set includes some traditional songs, Woody Guthrie’s “Philadelphia Lawyer,” and “Love Gifts,” a Loudenesque parody of “I Gave My Love a Cherry.” My favorite tracks in this section are a sweet version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” recorded at home in 1974 with Kate on harmony vocals, and a duet with Chaim on “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” from 2008 that I presume is an outtake from High Wide & Handsome, Loudon’s terrific Charlie Poole tribute.

The second section is “Rocking Out,” with most of the tracks dating from the 1970s after Loudon had a commercial hit with “Dead Skunk” (which is not on this album) and he went on the road with rock bands. But the best track in this section is “Cardboard Boxes,” a 1993 live cut about moving with just Loudon on guitar and lead vocals, Chaim on banjo and harmony vocals and David Mansfield on mandolin.

“Kids,” the final section on the first CD begins with a 1986 home recording of “Birthday Poem/Happy Birthday/Animal Song” on which children Rufus, 13, Martha, 10, and Lucy, 4, wish their father a happy 40th birthday. Lexie, Loudon’s youngest child, appears later in this section in a 1999 home recording singing his “Ballad of Famous & Harper,” a precious song about a pair of pet cats. More serious fare includes a 2003 live version of “Your Mother & I,” a song from the ‘80s in which Loudon tries to explain her parents’ breakup to his young daughter (Lucy).

The second CD begins with “Love Hurts,” six songs about love and/or lost love. The finest entry in this section is “Rowena,” which he based on courting letters written by his grandfather to his grandmother in 1918.

A section called “Miscellany” is grab-bag of tracks highlighted by a beautiful version of “Down Where the Drunkards Roll,” one of Richard Thompson’s most stunning songs. Greg Leisz’s pedal steel work on this track is lonesome and lovely; and by “Meet the Wainwrights,” that features Loudon with Lucy, Suzzy, Martha, Rufus and Sloan singing about their relationships with him.

Mike Regenstreif & Loudon Wainwright III (2015)
A short section called “Hollywood,” includes a snippet of an interview with Liza Minelli, in which she remembers “little Loudon, the kid next door,” her childhood neighbor, as well as “Hollywood Hopeful,” a 1975 song describing Loudon’s attempt to break in as an actor, and “Valley Morning,” a song he wrote from Judd Apatow’s film “Knocked Up.”

The final section, “The Big Picture,” kicks off with the hilarious “God’s Got a Shit List,” which you probably won’t be hearing in the radio anytime soon, and finishes with the equally hilarious and equally radio-inappropriate “Birthday Boy,” an a cappella song on which Loudon celebrates his birthday and himself.

Years in the Making might not be the best introduction for someone hearing Loudon for the first time. But it’s a terrific addition to his discography for those of us who have listened to and enjoyed his work over the past (almost) five decades (or parts thereof).

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--Mike Regenstreif

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Morning with Mike Regenstreif – CKCU – Saturday September 15, 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 on the web.

This episode of Saturday Morning can be streamed on-demand at …

Extended feature: Songs of Fred Neil.

David Olney- Stand Tall
This Side or the Other (Black Hen)

Finest Kind- Lowlands Low
For Honour & For Gain (Fallen Angle)
Wade Hemsworth with The Mountain City Four (lead vocal: Kate McGarrigle)- The Log Driver’s Waltz
Wade Hemsworth with the Mountain City Four (Peter Weldon)
Bill Garrett & Sue Lothrop- That’s How the Summer Slips Away
Red Shoes (Borealis)

Holly Near- A Singer Must Die
2018 (Calico Tracks Music)
Madeleine Peyroux- Anthem
Anthem (Verve)
Darol Anger & Emy Phelps- Bird on a Wire
Music of Our People (Darol Anger & Emy Phelps)
Leonard Cohen- The Stranger Song
Songs of Leonard Cohen (Columbia/Legacy)

Noah Zacharin- One Time in 20
A Startle of Wings (Noah Zacharin)
Orit Shimoni- Where to Begin
Lost and Found on the Road to Nowhere (Orit Shimoni)
Jory Nash- She Gets Her Courage from Alcohol
Wilderness Years (Thin Man Records)
Joyce Luna- Every Road We Take
Every Road We Take (Joyce Luna)
Jon Brooks- All Life’s Meaning
No One Travels Alone (Borealis)

The next 15 songs were written or adapted by Fred Neil (1936-2001).

Eric Andersen- The Dolphins
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Sid Selvidge- A Little Bit of Rain
A Little Bit of Rain (Archer)
Jim Wurster & Omine Eager- Dade County Jail
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Caroline Doctorow- Other Side of This Life
Follow You Down (Narrow Lane)
Fred Neil- Yonder Come the Blues
Bleecker & MacDougal (Elektra)

Arlan Feiles- Ba-De-Da
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Karen Dalton- Blues on the Ceiling
I’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best (Koch)
Vince Martin- Handful of Gimme
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Roy Orbison- Candy Man
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison (Monument)
Fred Neil- That’s the Bag I’m In
The Many Sides of Fred Neil (Collector’s Choice)

Valerie C Wisecracker- Bleecker & MacDougal
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Judy Collins- Tear Down the Walls
Judy Collins 3 & 4 (Wildflower)
The 18 Wheelers- I’ve Got a Secret
Everybody’s Talkin’: A Tribute to Fred Neil (Y&T Music)
Alison Brown w/Tim O'Brien- Everybody’s Talkin’
Fair Weather (Compass)
Fred Neil- Faretheewell (Fred’s Tune)
The Many Sides of Fred Neil (EMI Collector’s Choice)

El Coyote- Another Day
El Coyote (El Coyote)
The LYNNeS- Recipe for Disaster
Heartbreak Song for the Radio (The LYNNeS)

John Wort Hannam- Acres of Elbow Room
Acres of Elbow Room (John Wort Hannam)
Jimmy LaFave- My Oklahoma Home (It Blowed Away)
Peace Town (Music Road)
Eliza Gilkyson- Dreamtime
Secularia (Red House)
Tom Russell- Rose of San Joaquin

Vince Halfhide- Memphis Rounder
Vince Halfhide (Vince Halfhide)
Louis Armstrong- Beale Street Blues
Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (Columbia/Legacy)
Nina Simone- Little Liza Jane
At Newport (Colpix)

Reggie Harris- 3:16am
Ready to Go (Reggie Harris Music)
Lawrence Lebo- Old School Girl
Old School Girl (On the Air)
Jordan Officer- One Handed Push-Ups
Three Rivers (Spectra)
The Carnivaleros- Rudy Got Caught Again
Tallsome Tales (Gary Mackender)

Ray Bonneville- Waiting on the Night
At King Electric (Stonefly)
Jennifer Warnes- I Am the Big Easy
Another Time, Another Place (BMG)

I’ll be hosting Saturday Morning next on October 13.

Find me on Twitter. @MikeRegenstreif

--Mike Regenstreif