Thursday, 30 August 2012

Duane Allman and Little Martha

Little Martha is named after a Duane Allman tune, and released on October 29th, the anniversary of his death, so it only seemed right to get a few words from David and to ask Steve Edmond to write a bit on the great man:

Written by the immensely talented Duane Allman. Such a sweet little tune. He recorded it a few weeks before his death in 1971, in a motorbike accident at the age of 24. Leo Kottke, who ought to know, called this ''the most perfect guitar song ever written''. My version doesn't do justice to it. It's well worth hearing both the original and Kottke's cover of it. It was Simon Trought's idea to name the album after this song.


"From Duane Allman, co-founder and leader of the Allman BrothersBand, much sought after session musician and damn fine slide guitarist.

Howard Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee alongside his brother Gregg, (bandmate and future husband of Cher), were raised by their mother after their father was murdered when Duane was just 3-years-old.
Although Gregg was given a guitar and Duane a motorcycle for Christmas in 1960, when Duane wrecked the bike in an accident he sold the spares and bought himself a guitar.
The brothers formed several bands from 1965 onwards, initially The Kings then the Allman Joys and finally Hourglass after moving to Los Angeles – 2 albums were released on Liberty Records but failed to take off.
Following some amazing but frustrating session work in Muscle Shoals with the likes of Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, Boz Scaggs, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, Duane returned to his home in Florida and formed finally the Allman Brothers Band in 1969.
During his time as a session guy Duane had perfected his electric slide guitar technique, using an empty Coricidin (strong cough medicine and recreational drug) glass bottle over his ring finger as a slide, which would become his trademark in the band he then formed in Macon, Georgia with his brother Gregg, The Allman Brothers Band.
Fusing country, blues, rock and soul they toured non-stop and produced the first taste of what would become known as southern rock.  They recorded 3 studio albums and a live album recorded at the Fillmore East, which saw immediate success and achieved critical acclaim. Duane’s playing was seen inspired and imaginative and Eric Clapton asked him to play on the hugely successful Derek & the Dominos album.
However, on October 29th, 1971, while out on his latest motorbike Duane crashed into a flatbed truck, not far from the band’s home, The Big House in Macon. Duane was taken straight to a local hospital, but died from internal injuries. The band played at his funeral. He was 24 years old.
The Allman Brothers Band completed the album they had been recording with Duane and it was released as “Eat a Peach’ in February 1972 which included the only Allman Brothers track solely written by Duane – “Little Martha”
The inspiration behind the song is thought to be Dixie Lee Meadows, “Little Martha” being his pet name for his new girlfriend. She was one of a bevy of girls that the Allman Brothers and their roadies dubbed the Hot ‘Lanta girls.

Later rumours suggested that he named the song after a young girl called Martha Ellis buried up at Rose Hill cemetery (where Duane himself was buried in 1972) – Fellow bandmate Dickey Betts comment “Little Martha, for God’s sake is not a little baby that died”.

When I visited the Allman Brothers former home and now museum, The Big House last year, I spoke to another excitable fan there that told me that Duane heard the song in a dream. A dream where he and Jimi Hendrix were holed up in a Holiday Inn bathroom and Jimi taught him the melody using the taps of the sink as the fretboard of a guitar.
 “Little Martha” continues to be played over the PA system at the end of every Allman Brothers Band show in tribute to Duane."
Steve Edmond
Hangover Lounge DJ & Southern Rock nerd

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Rev Gary Davis playing Candy Man

there are a number of cover versions on Little Martha, and we'll be hunting down some amazing footage of the originals over the next few months...

first up we have:

From the king of ragtime guitar, and one of my many great heroes, Rev.Gary Davis, the funnest guitar player of all time.


Gary Davis was born in 1896 in Laurens, South Carolina and he was blind from the age of 2, which was of course mandatory for blues singers. He became a street musician, a ragtime picker and blues shouter. He first recorded in New York in 1935, playing second guitar on sessions with Blind Boy Fuller, but a couple of years later he was ordained and subsequently gave up singing the blues (''the devil's music'') altogether. He'd either sing Christian songs (everyone should hear his joyful ''Say No To The Devil'') or play ragtime instrumentals. By the 40s he was living in New York and teaching guitar and I suppose it's because of a couple of his students - Stefan Grossman and Ry Cooder - that Rev. Gary Davis is one of the folk musicians that became more famous when they were rediscovered during the 60s folk revival than they ever were in the first place.

My Dad had a record from the 60s of Davis recorded in his house by Stefan Grossman. I still have the album. It's called Ragtime Guitar, appropriately enough (they can't have rejected many titles before they hit on that one). The album had a huge effect on me when I was a kid. His guitar playing, which is sort of clumsy, sounded magical to me. It was playful, humorous and mischievous. When I heard it, I realised for the first time that it was possible to express your personality through an instrument. There are guitarists who can play much faster than he could, ones who can play much more complicated stuff, but so often they don't have any personality, any character. Their kind of musicianship is more like a kind of sport. Davis, on the other hand, had personality in spades. He makes mistakes too. He tries stuff out, and sometimes it doesn't work. This isn't a precise, robotic kind of music. I remember in the sleevenotes, Grossman writing about how important it was to record Davis in his home, where he was at his most relaxed. I always liked that. There's even a little bit on the album where he has a chat with his wife, and then he starts playing the next tune. I vividly remember sitting in front of the speakers and listening to this and seeing the whole neck of the guitar in my mind's eye, visualising it as if it was a road or a town even, with all these different points of interest in it, these different things that could happen. Hearing this album was when I started really liking guitars and liking the idea of being a guitar player. It's one of the first things I really listened to. I was learning how to listen. It's still a touchstone album for me, one that I will put on to cheer myself up or to remind me why I got into music in the first place.

A few years after I first heard Gary Davis, a folk musician called Derek Brimstone came to Wymeswold to play in the back room of the pub. Derek Brimstone had been a folk club musician for years, since the sixties. Like Billy Connolly or Jasper Carrott who came from the same world, he was more noted for his jokes than for the songs he would play. I guess I was about ten years old by then, around about 1993 or 94. I got up in the middle of Derek's set and did a couple of the Rev. Gary Davis tunes that I had learnt from Stefan Grossman's guitar tab books. I was terrified! Performing in front of 50 or so grown-ups! I think I got through the tunes OK. Derek was really sweet to me. It turned out that he had toured England with Gary Davis many years before and he told me stories about him. By Derek Brimstone's account, Davis was every bit as loveable in life as his recordings suggest he was. I remember too, I think I will always remember, Derek Brimstone singing the Rev Gary Davis version of Delia (All My Friends Are Gone) that night; just as beautiful and measured a performance of a song as I have ever heard.  

Monday, 20 August 2012

signed copies

David Tattersall - Little Martha insert
David will be signing all the pre-ordered copies of Little Martha... the discussion now is where they should be signed... please let me know, and we'll go with the majority:

1. front
b. back
iii. insert

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

a few words about Little Martha

David Tattersall at the Union Chapel
“I recorded Little Martha in one day with Simon Trought at the old Soup Studio, underneath the Duke of Uke ukulele shop on Hanbury Street, just off Brick Lane in East London. There are no overdubs on the album, which was recorded live with one microphone. Franic Rozycki stopped by to play mandolin on a couple of tracks, but otherwise it's entirely me playing acoustic guitar. There are no vocals on the album.

I love guitar players. For every songwriter I like, there are a hundred guitarists who impress me. There are too many that I enjoy listening to to mention them all, but there are a few key influences on this particular record that are worth naming: American guitarists like Reverend Gary Davis, LeoKottke, Blind Blake and Ry Cooder. John Fahey, who started recording in 1959, was one of the first guys to get me hooked on instrumental fingerpicking guitar. He plays with a simple thumb-and-two-fingers right hand technique, nice and slow. His music contains tremendous power and mystery, yet it is easy to grasp exactly what he is doing. He called himself an ''American Primitive'', which in technical terms I suppose is true, but his ideas are very strange and sophisticated, particularly in his synthesis of 20th century European classical music and (American) folk and blues. I cover a number of his tunes on the album, and I clumsily attempt to copy his style a little on the ones I wrote. More than anyone else, the album is a tribute to Fahey and to my love of his music, which I have listened to for 20 years now and still find fascinating. We even copied the simple black-on-white style of Fahey's Blind Joe Death LP cover when we made the sleeve.

From the age of 9 until I was about 16, this was all I played: acoustic guitar instrumentals like the kind on this album. I abandoned this practice when I started writing songs and formed The Wave Pictures. It was really nice for me to go back to this way of playing that means so much to me, after 14 years playing rock music. I had a lot of fun learning the tunes, developing big blisters on my fingers again, practising for hours in the bathroom where the acoustics are better. And it was a pleasure, as always, to record with Simon. It's nice to show a different side of yourself every so often. I am so happy I got to make this record and that WIAIWYA records kindly decided to release it. “

David Tattersall, August 2012

Monday, 13 August 2012

the records arrived today

yup... the brand new album from David Tattersall arrived this morning (stroke of luck, as i had the day off)... it's out at the end of October, but available to pre-order already...