Guitar Artistry of Geoff Muldaur


Guitar Artistry of Geoff Muldaur

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Guitar Artistry of Geoff Muldaur

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Item #Vestapol 13118

"Geoff has a voice like nobody else. When he sings you just have to listen. He has a way with a song that makes you wish it would never end. The combination of Geoff's amazing voice and the way he wraps it around a song makes his music irresistible." – Tom Rush

"There are only three white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them."  – Richard Thompson

Geoff Muldaur is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, MA and Woodstock, NY. During the 1960's and 1970's, Geoff made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield's Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria and other notables (Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Garcia, etc.). He left the stage and recording world in the mid-1980's for a working sabbatical but continued, however, to hone his craft, albeit 'flying beneath radar'. He composed scores for film and television, garnering an Emmy in the process, and produced offbeat albums for the likes of Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns and the Richard Greene String Quartet. And his definitive recording of "Brazil" provided the seed for - and was featured in - Terry Gilliam's film of the same title.

With his magical voice and singular approach to American music intact, Geoff is once again touring the world. Recent performances have included The Lincoln Center in New York City, The Getty Art Center in Los Angeles, Royal Festival Hall in London, as well as folk and blues festivals in Newport RI, Edmonton Canada, Dublin Ireland, San Francisco CA, Bergen and Notodden Norway to name a few. Geoff's newest albums have met with high critical acclaim and feature Geoff's unusually crafted interpretations of classic, oftentimes obscure, American material as well as his own unique compositions.

In addition to tours and recording, Geoff continues to apply his arranging skills to a variety of projects for albums and film. Although he is known as a musicians musician, it is clearly his voice that most identifies him. The New York Times noted: Geoff Muldaur "...succeeds not because he copies the timbre and inflections of a down-home African American but because his voice - reedy, quavering, otherworldly - is so unusual that the music he sings becomes little more than a context, a jumping-off point." And about a recent performance in London, The London Times wrote, "Immaculate guitar picking was matched by vocals that were rich, and bore out the guitarist. Richard Thompson's praise for him: 'There are only three white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.'"

In this Guitar Artistry DVD, Geoff talks about his influences as well as his approaches to arranging music to the guitar. An intimate portrait of a great artist.

Titles include: The Wild Ox Moan, My Tears Came Rollin' Down, Just A Little While To Stay Here, Light Rain, Fishin' Blues, Wild About My Lovin', Downtown Blues, Gee Baby (Ain't I Good To You), Chicken, Drop Down Mama, Mr. Jelly Roll Baker, I Can't See Your Face Anymore, Trouble Soon Be Over and Got to Find Blind Lemon - Part One

Running Time: 93 minutes

Review: One man, one guitar. But what a man, what a voice, what a player. The name Muldaur will resonate with some of us older folk because of his one-time wife's atmospheric hit, Midnight At The Oasis. But this is a man with such skill, passion, and, above all, history, that he even transcends his past associations with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia and Paul Butterfield. As a raconteur, he's peerless. In between his mesmerising renditions of songs such as Wild Ox Moan, Fishin' Blues and I Can't See Your Face Anymore, there are engrossing vignettes, fascinating yarns he tells about his life as a bluesman, the way he collected songs, and the various ways he became inspired. His friendships over the past half century read like a who's who of the blues; Son House, Lonnie Johnson, Mance Liscomb, Mississippi John Hurt and each story is a genuine gem, providing you with a real insight into what it really means to give up everything else and walk the pure blues road. There's a comment by Richard Thompson on the cover: "There are only three white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them." Attached to any other artist, such a statement might seem like overkill, but when connected with this man, it's 100% correct. I've rarely enjoyed an hour and a half in front of a screen as much as this, and if you really, really, genuinely love true blues, then you need this – and I guarantee you'll not be disappointed. – Roy Bainton/Blues Matters! 

Review: When an 18-year-old Geoff Muldaur cut his first album - 1963s Sleepy Man Blues for Prestige - you could practically count on your fingers the number of white performers recording blues - Koerner, Ray & Glover, Dave Van Ronk, and soon, John Hammond.

He quickly joined the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, resulting in several albums and eventually a marriage to the group's fiddler, Maria D'Amato (who dueted on the underground radio hit "Chevrolet").

He later went into film and television scoring, but in 1998 reemerged with Secret Handshake and has lately been gigging with the Texas Sheiks.

Muldaur is far more than a guitarist (on 1972s Sweet Potatoes, by him and Maria, in addition to guitar and vocals, he supplied organ, piano, trombone, alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, and percussion, along with arranging horns and strings), which is perhaps why his talents on the instrument are so underrated. Luckily, other players (like Vestapol's Stefan Grossman) are acutely aware of his six-string talents - but, thankfully, he didn't leave his wonderful vocal talent at the door when he made this DVD.

Like Grossman's other "Guitar Artistry Of" DVDs (David Bromberg, Rory Block, Paul Geremia), the program alternates between songs and interview segments (dispensing fascinating background information), utilizing close-ups and split screens to reveal right- and left-hand fingering positions - without becoming a "workshop."

Muldaur plays his parlor-sized Martin in a manner not intended to impress with flash; in fact, some songs, like Eric Von Schmidt's "Light Rain," are beginner-level simple. But he plays the 14 selections (including Lonnie Johnson's "Jelly Roll Baker" and Henry Thomas' "Fishin' Blues") with the authority of someone who's been doing this for half a century. Which is about how long he's been doing it.

There's a lot of music and history packed into this 90-minute treasure. – Vintage Guitar / Dan Forte

Review: There have been plenty of cult bands, but only one, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, that became a cult. Mel Lyman, Kweskin’s harmonica player, put aside his harp to found the Lyman Family, proclaimed himself the new Messiah, gathered disciples including Kweskin, and became sort of the Charles Manson of the East Coast. His followers didn’t commit helter-skelter murders, but they did try to stick up a bank.

Fortunately some Kweskin band members stuck with music, including Geoff Muldaur who went on to record a couple of off-beat albums with his then wife Maria Muldaur, formed the Better Days Band with Paul Butterfield, won an Emmy as a composer, produced the coolly named Lenny Pickett & the Borneo Horns and then quit performing for 17 years until everybody's old pal Bob Neuwirth pulled him back into the music-biz.

Muldaur now has a new band, the Texas Sheiks, with a self-titled CD and a new solo DVD called the Guitar Artistry of Geoff Muldaur. Artistry is a fancy word, like alchemy, but both seem appropriate. As Richard Thompson says in a blurb on the DVD "There are only three white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them."

Like Dylan and so many other players who started in the 1960s, Muldaur is a disciple of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, that odd-ball collection of "outsider" music still making converts today. The DVD begins with Muldaur playing "Wild Ox Moan," a weird blues yodel - yes, yodel - originally done by a Depression-era black singer named Vera Hall, and ends with one of his own songs recapping a drunken trip he made as an 18-year-old in search of Blind Lemon jefferson’s grave (he took abroom).

Other songs included in the 93-minute DVD are "Gee Baby (Ain't I Good to You)," "Trouble Soon Be Over," "My Tears Came Rollin’ Down," "Drop Down Mama" and "Wild About My Lovin’," the latter dating back to his Kweskin Jug Band days. The set-up’s simple, just Muldaur in a chair, with the camera moving in and out to catch his fingering and inflection as he goes through the songs and tells stories about people like Lonnie Johnson and John Hurt. Good representative samples are on YouTube. – Ugly Thngs / Bill Wasserzieher

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