Discovering Jordie Lane:
On Being John Hammond For a Day
In Concert at The Mint
May 13, 2013
Who wouldn’t want to be John Hammond for a day? The man who discovered Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen? Well, that’s how I felt last night at The Mint on Pico Blvd just west of Fairfax, where folk singer Jordie Lane, newly arrived from Down Under was giving his American concert debut. He put on a great show and now I also know how it felt to be Robert Shelton at Gerdes Folk City in 1961, whose rave review alerted John Hammond to the new kid in Greenwich Village.
Like Dylan camping out on Dave Van Ronk’s couch when he first blew into town (recounted in Talking New York on his first album) Jordie Lane also had a story to tell: he and his girlfriend (who covered her Suzie Rotolo locks with an impressive headpiece) spent their first night sinking into an inflatable bed that mysteriously developed a hole and started losing air until by morning they were flat up against a hardwood floor. Hard times in LA Town, one could almost hear the song a-birthing.
Pan Pipe Revelations
Nearly one year ago on a sweltering June evening in Riverside, I was waiting for a performance of Mayupatapi to begin. It felt as if the air-conditioning was not functioning in the small theater of the UCR Arts Building. Having been accepted into the graduate ethnomusicology program for 2012-13, I wanted to see a performance of the Andean music ensemble that I would be joining in the fall.
The members of Mayupatapi did not walk out on stage. They ran. Clad in black jeans and tops over which they wore heavy colorfully embroidered vests, they ran in a circular formation while playing the pan pipe.
I slumped in my seat. How could I ever hope to do what these ensemble members – young enough to be my children – were doing? Probably it was hotter under the spotlights on the stage than it was in the rest of the theater. Round and round they went for about three minutes until they came to a standstill and played the entire melody again with great verve.
Chicks Nix Hicks' Picks
After striking out in Nashville at the CMA awards, the Dixie Chicks hit a grand slam home run in Los Angeles at the Grammy's last February 11. They swept all three major awards: Song, Record and Album of the Year, on the way to winning all five categories in which they were nominated. They added insult to the injury of the red states' defeat in all the major contested elections last November, throwing control of the House and Senate into blue state Democratic hands for the first time in a generation.
Call it the last nail in the southern coffin. The bi-coastal cultural power centers New York and LA showed that they have no objection to country music - it was the politics they abhorred. Give us a country band not tied to Bush country, and we'll embrace it wholeheartedly, which we did.
It was also a great night for folk music, as Joan Baez - who was there to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award - looked resplendent as she introduced the Chicks to an international TV audience, as well as the Staples Center crowd. Joan drew abundant applause when she reminded us that over the years she too has been told many times to shut up and sing (the title of last year's documentary on the Dixie Chicks). She ended her brief but bravura performance by quoting Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land. For one beautiful evening, it felt like it.