Showing all persons possessed of a quick ear and a taste for Music can readily acquire the art of correctly accompanying on the Piano, a singer, or solo performer on any instrument.
With Haywood Douresseau and Dwight Shackleford and an unruly mob of ragamuffins on a Saturday morning at the farmer’s market. It was really Dwight’s show – I was just playing backup – but he passed the mic and I hummed out something that turned into a real actual song.
Ryan Lim, Paul McCue and I (aka The Joy Drops) played at a street fair called Urban Air Market a few weeks ago. It was a sunny weekend afternoon with plenty of foot traffic. One of the strollers, a fellow named K. Yun, took some photos, and the other other day he mailed these to me.
I like one-letter names.
We’re playing Revolution Cafe in the mission tonight.
Photos by Fer Juaristi:
Here’s a pretty instrumental I recorded on my Collings mandolin. It’s a slow version of a tune that’s usually done as an uptempo fiddle number for square dancing.
To the extent possible under law, Lucas Gonze has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Hollow Poplar. This work is published from: United States.
The Joy Drops play Pub Republic in Petaluma on Thursday August 8 at 8PM.
The lyrics move me. This song is about humility, frailty, vulnerability.
This piece has a ton of charm, and it’s really straightforward. Just make the notes happen and it’ll feel good.
I’ll play at Diesel bookstore in Oakland on Friday night, April 12. Start time 7pm, set length 60 minutes, maybe 90 if I feel long winded.
5433 College Ave Oakland, California 94618-1502. A short walk from Rockridge BART.
My plan is to do more moodier, quieter, smarter pieces. Lots of instrumentals. Notes flying willy nilly. This is a solo show, I think. Unless I change my mind.
Diesel has a nice feel to it. I love bookstores.
A couple years ago I posted a set of 11 short mandolin improvisations titled “homestyle mandolin sample pack” They were targeted at remixers and video makers, not plain old listeners, so I put them in AIFF format, which is unfriendly for ordinary listening.
Since then one of the 11, #17, has become far and away the most popular. It has 1551 plays on Freesound, more than double the next most popular and about 15X more than the other nine. It has been used in about five videos; none of the others have been used AFAIK. It clearly deserves to be an MP3 for ordinary listening and to be accessible apart from the pack.
This one is the only one that in the future won’t have a number. It’s new name is simply “Homestyle Mandolin.”
There was a point in my musical life where I decided that I’m committed, with no holds barred. Not long after that I stopped taking bookings where I was supposed to draw an audience.
Drawing an audience is a big distraction from playing. If I have time to spend on preparing for a gig, I want it to benefit people’s ears – things like practicing, working on the set list, improving my equipment. Quality is hyperefficient. I have limited resources. The music is the best place to invest them..
Also, drawing a crowd is a con game. Making It In The Music Business is not what I’m about. As much respect as I have for people who make this game work, they are vastly outnumbered by people getting fleeced.
So I direct my attention to pre-existing crowds in need of music. Parties, for example. Problem solved. But then there’s a new problem – the music isn’t what they’re there for.
So last night I happened to play a gig for an audience which was there for other reason than to listen, and it was awesome. A quiet room. Comfortable seats. Ability to follow the phrases back and forth. I felt like they were disappointed when the big dumb songs arrived instead of relieved that the pointy headed stuff was finally over.
Maybe I can find a way to achieve both goals.
There’s a Corey Harris gig in NYC on January 14 that I’d go to if I were still back east, which relates to an incredible video I posted a while back: Sittin´ On Top Of The World – Otha Turner & Corey Harris
Those guys both excel at the African roots of American music, which were buried as far as possible because of european looniness WRT Africa, like Heart of Darkness. Otha’s thing is pretty much straight quills AFAICT. Harris’ playing is creative and beautiful in a genre (blues) that is mainly formulaic machismo. Speaking as a musician with a related creative strategy, I have a lot of respect for where he takes it.
More awesomeness in the tradition of americana africana:
(1) Ali Farka Toure and Corey Harris play a Skip James tune. (2) From way back in 1961: Sid Hemphill & Lucious Smith – Old Devil’s Dream. (3) A short documentary on Otha Turner at FolkStreams.
Credit to my college friend Anne Wallace Allen, who posted this to Facebook, saying:
Bottled in Idaho, I guess. Eric keeps finding whiskey bottles in an 1890 house he’s renovating.
Mandolinist, resonator guitarist, and singer Lucas Gonze plays the roots of roots music – vintage Americana from the civil war to the early recording era. It’s homestyle music, great for a barbecue, with flavors of bluegrass, early blues, and New Orleans jazz. It’s like a soundtrack to Deadwood, including the blood, mud and archaic dialect.
Part of his reason to play antique style is to contribute to the public domain. Gonze puts his recordings into the public domain (or Creative Commons), and limits his sources to old works which are out of copyright.
Gonze is no luddite. He documents his music (and other quirky americana) on a blog at soupgreens.com. His version of Doc Watson’s “Deep River Blues” has 35,000 plays on YouTube (http://bit.ly/WZGu3U). His “Ghost Solos” MP3 EP was covered on BoingBoing and has 28,000 plays on Free Music Archive. A popular source of soundtrack music for videos, his recordings have been used by the video blogger Ze Frank (100,000 plays to date) and many others. He is on YouTube at youtube.com/lcsgze, on SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/lucas_gonze, and on Freesound at freesound.org/people/lucasgonze.
Comments on his music from around the web:
“Cracking player.. Lovely singing…”
“A forthright quality to that performance. It has the courage of it’s own convictions …loved it.”
“Fascinating hybrid picking technique”
“Wonderful, fancy picking on a greatsounding guitar!”
“if yhu goin dance like thiss then yhu mightee as well ge freaky then….. yhu kno wat i meann!!!”
“Lucas Gonze was incredible. He figuratively knocked everybody’s socks off.”
“Love your work, bringing these amazing old pieces of American music to life, and giving us some great historical contexts about the composers. “
“This is awesome =^.^=”
“The songs are jigsawed together perfectly, and I don’t consider them especially gloomy. I would use the word “atmospheric”. Lovely.”
Amy Waltz Nov 12 2012 (mp3). (00:49)
There are these three little waltzes that I’m in love with. They’re sort of classical music but simpler and more earthy, like stiff formal diction in a cowboy movie. I have recorded all three, and as time went by one of the recordings really bugged me. My idea back then, in the 2007 version, was to subvert and take it in an modernist direction. Over time this sounded like overacting, like a guy mugging for the camera instead of being honestly in the moment. So I have done a new version.
The name of the composition is “3 Waltzes.” It is by D. E. Jannon, who has no other works in the Library of Congress web site, where I found it, and left no other traces that I can find. It was published in New York in 1854.
If you play them by using the Yahoo Web Player in my blog entry on Soupgreens, you’ll hear all three together, as a set. They don’t blend well yet; I need to do a remastered version with the three of them in one MP3, with normalized volume, EQ and compression.
Do whatever you want with this recording. It’s hereby in the public domain. You have permission to use my sounds for any purpose, anywhere, any time, and feel free to deep link to my web server. If you want to give back credit me by name and URL – “Lucas Gonze (soupgreens.com)” – and send an email to email@example.com to tell me about what you made.
For remixers, podcasters, and people needing soundtrack music I posted a slew of WAV files in longer and shorter cuts on Freesound: Parlor Guitar Matched Set. My idea was to provide a set of related sounds to tie a whole show together. Like a blog theme or an icon pack, this isn’t about any one recording. There’s a stinger, a long thing for a voicever, a high quality thing for a fadeout, etc etc.
Some keywords to describe the music for people using search engines: folk, woody, jittery, light, innocent, fast, parlor-guitar, sweet, happy, classical-guitar, americana.
To the extent possible under law, Lucas Gonze has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Amy Waltz (Nov 12 2012). This work is published from: United States.
The first reuse of this recording that I know of is SMNG-A Architects Holiday Video 2012.
The Colored Aristocracy of St Louis is a small book with a long impact. It wassomewhat maliciousin a sharply observed way:
In 1858, Cyprian Clamorgan wrote a brief but immensely readable book entitled The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis.The grandson of a white voyageur and a mulatto woman, he was himself a member of the “colored aristocracy.” In a setting where the vast majority of African Americans were slaves, and where those who were free generally lived in abject poverty, Clamorgan’s “aristocrats” were exceptional people. Wealthy, educated, and articulate, these men and women occupied a “middle ground.” Their material advantages removed them from the mass of African Americans, but their race barred them from membership in white society.
The Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis is both a serious analysis of the social and legal disabilities under which African Americans of all classes labored and a settling of old scores. Somewhat malicious, Clamorgan enjoyed pointing out the foibles of his friends and enemies, but his book had a serious message as well. “He endeavored to convince white Americans that race was not an absolute, that the black community was not a monolith, that class, education, and especially wealth, should count for something.” Despite its fascinating insights into antebellum St. Louis, Clamorgan’s book has been virtually ignored since its initial publication.
I love that this gives tiny details of ordinary lives that have long been forgotten.
50 years later or so that became the title of a cakewalk:
And then the cakewalk was stripped down to its core and became a standard of the old time fiddle and banjo repertoire.
The melody of the Elvis Presley song “Love Me Tender” comes from a 19th century pop tune called “Aura Lee.”
It’s hard to make this song work for our contemporary ears. It’s so over the top sentimental, and the harmonies are unbearably sweet. So I was happy to find a version I liked: the 1938 cover by The Shelton Brothers.
I came across sheet music for the Victorian cliche classic “Home Sweet Home” in the June 1st, 1898 edition of S. S. Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal. It’s an arrangement for guitar and mandolin, and I have an American-made mandolin from 1900 and American-made guitar from 1890, so I took the chance to do a super accurate period recording. Also, I thought that it might be useful to people making videos to have a permissively licensed modern recording of this instantly recognizable number.
I found it in this publication:
The magazine had been in circulation for 14 years, but would only last a few issues more, because it carried sad news:
I didn’t know how to mourn the late founder, who I had just met and who had just died, 114 years before:
If you want to play it yourself, the guitar part is at http://soupgreens.com/wp-content/uploads/HomeSweetHome-guitar.png and the mandolin part is at http://soupgreens.com/wp-content/uploads/HomeSweetHome-mandolin.png.
In hope that my recording will be useful to other people, I have put it under a Creative Commons license.
Home Sweet Home by Lucas Gonze is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://soupgreens.com/wp-content/uploads/LucasGonze-HomeSweetHome.mp3.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.