Monday, October 9, 2017

The Smithsonian Presents a Gallery of 6,000+ Rare Rock ‘n Roll Photos on a Crowdsourced Web Site, and Now a New Book

Rock photography is an art form in itself, as demonstrated by books and exhibitions of some of its masters like Mick Rock, Jenny Lens, Pennie Smith, and so many others. But two years ago, the Smithsonian turned to the crowd, to the fan, to the amateur photographer, with a call to submit photos from over six decades of rock and roll that weren’t hanging on gallery walls, but sitting in a shoebox somewhere. From fans with instamatic cameras to amateurs covering concerts for their school paper, the Smithsonian wanted another angle on our cultural obsession.
Many of the contributions now live on a crowdsourced website. And a resulting book Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen collects the best of these in a chronological history of the genre, from post-war blues to the late 20th century. It will be officially released on October 24, though you can pre-order now.
Websites Mashable and Dangerous Minds present a selection of photos from the book, such as a shot of Sly Stone at the height of his powers (and belt buckle size), a pic of the Talking Heads on stage in Berkeley, 1977; a dark and mysterious glimpse of Bonnie Raitt, circa 1974; and a shot of Cream playing the Chicago Coliseum taken from the side of the stage, with Ginger Baker’s head a complete blur. Also find Joni Mitchell at Kleinhans Music Hall. And The Ramones in Tempe, Arizona, circa 1978.
Bonnie Raitt at the Harvard Square Theatre, by Barry Schneier/Smithsonian Books
It’s a reminder of how unpretentious these live shows could be, happening in a world with the simplest of lighting rigs and decades from the big screen projections even up-and-coming bands now indulge in. For the most part, this was an intimate contract between the artist and the audience, all crammed into small clubs with smoke, sweat, heat, and, most importantly, electricity in the air.
The new book also features tales from the people who took the photos, along with some more professional photos to “flesh out this overview of rock and roll,” according to the introduction by organizer Bill Bentley. He adds: "The results, spanning six decades, aim for neither encyclopedic authority nor comprehensive finality, but rather an index of supreme influence."
The Ramones in Tempe, Arizona, by Dorian Boese/Smithsonian Books
That supreme influence continues to be felt, for sure. Although the submission window is now closed, the Smithsonian's website allows you to look through the hundreds of submissions to the project.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

VIDEO: Inside the 1969 Bob Dylan-Johnny Cash Sessions

by Mike Springer, Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/06/the_1969_bob_dylan-johnny_cash_sessions_twelve_rare_recordings.html

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash had formed a mutual admiration society even before they met in the early 1960s.
"Of course, I knew of him before he ever heard of me," Dylan wrote shortly after Cash's death in 2003. "In '55 or '56, 'I Walk the Line' played all summer on the radio, and it was different than anything else you had ever heard. The record sounded like a voice from the middle of the Earth. It was so powerful and moving."
When the young Dylan arrived on the scene in 1962, Cash was impressed.
"I was deeply into folk music in the early 1960s," he wrote in Cash: The Autobiography, "both the authentic songs from various periods and areas of American life and the new 'folk revival' songs of the time, so I took note of Bob Dylan as soon as the Bob Dylan album came out in early '62 and listened almost constantly to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in '63. I had a portable record player I'd take along on the road, and I'd put on Freewheelin' backstage, then go out and do my show, then listen again as soon as I came off."
Cash wrote the young Dylan a fan letter, and they began corresponding. When they met at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, Cash gave Dylan his guitar as a gesture of respect and admiration. Five years later, when Dylan was in Nashville recording his ninth studio album, Cash was recording in the studio next door. He decided to drop in. On February 17 and 18, 1969, Cash and Dylan recorded more than a dozen duets. Only one of them, a version of Dylan's "Girl From the North Country," made it onto the album, Nashville Skyline. The others were never officially released, but have long been circulating as bootlegs. In the video above, Dylan and Cash work on one of two versions they made of "One Too Many Mornings," a song originally recorded by Dylan in 1964 for The Times They Are a-Changin'.  The outtakes Dylan and Cash recorded together are all scattered around Youtube. One Youtuber posted a compilation back in 2013.
A few weeks after the release of Nashville Skyline, Dylan and Cash performed "Girl From the North Country" on The Johnny Cash Show. It was taped on May 1, 1969 at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. A rough video clip (around the 30 minute mark) captures the moment. Despite Dylan's reported nervousness, the performance was well-received. "I didn't feel anything about it," Cash said later. "But everybody said it was the most magnetic, powerful thing they ever heard in their life. They were just raving about electricity and magnetism. And all I did was just sit there hitting G chords."