Guest Mixtape: Pete Oberg’s Expected Synchronicity
Filed under: Blog Love,Mixtapes | Posted by: jody
Pete Oberg, an audio archivist for the music site Wolfgang’s Concert Vault, has given us a mixtape. I am very pleased to present his mix entitled “Expected Synchronicity.” For those who are unfamiliar with The Concert Vault, it’s a site that contains thousands of live performances and interviews from the 1960s through today from the likes of The Band, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and more. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and then all of the concerts in the Concert Vault are yours to stream online. Some of the concerts are even available for free download, while others are available to download for a small price (though streaming is always free). Check out Pete’s mix, which includes a couple of tracks from the archive and various other recorded material from the likes of Ralph Stanley, Justin Townes Earle, Moby Grape and more, after the jump.
Even after three years of digging through the Vault, I am often surprised by finding a great track buried somewhere in the archives. Of course, it’s my ‘job’ to listen to live music for at least 40 hours a week, so it’s never completely out of left field; but it’s been my experience that the best finds always come up as a result of a random comment on the site, a stray Twitter conversation, a TV commercial, a newspaper headline, or some other such coincidence that has little to do with work. It’s something like ‘Expected Synchronicity’…I am always on the look-out for the next simple twist of fate that will turn me on to a new hidden gem. I haven’t been keeping track of all the times it’s happened, and I’m a little hazy on the details of some that I do remember, but here are fourteen (plus two that I couldn’t resist including) tracks I came across this way that I thought might be enjoyed by the folks who read When You Awake.
1. Great Jones, “Cripple Creek”
This is the opening song to the only album this group recorded. We have two of their concerts in The Vault recorded at the Fillmore East when they opened for Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and The Byrds. They sort of slipped up on the site without a lot of fanfare, but they were brought to my attention by Justin Farrar, a free-lance writer out of Asheville NC that I was speaking with on Twitter a while back. He saw Jeff Gutcheon listed in the lineup for one of the shows and pointed out that he wrote the title song to Great Jones’ album, “All Bowed Down,” which was also performed by Geoff & Maria Muldaur.
2. Geoff & Maria Muldaur, “Blue Railroad Train”
Justin was the one that suggested listening to this song…I had known Maria through a few concerts in the Vault (specifically one at NYC’s Bottom Line where Dickey Betts sat in), but hadn’t known that she and Geoff had recorded a collection of tunes that would give the Bramletts a run for their money.
3. Alvin Lee & Mylon LeFevre, “So Sad (No Love of His Own)”
I was looking for information on The Byrds when I came across a Vault recording of Mylon playing on the same date. The opening tune from that set, “Jesus is the Waymaker,” was the first example of gospel funk I had ever heard. In the 80’s, Mylon would once again pick up on the gospel direction he was originally headed in, but not until he had to turn to his faith in order to win a battle with drug addiction. For one of the earlier stops along the way, he recorded On the Road to Freedom in 1973 with Alvin Lee in his first post-Ten Years After project. The album included appearances by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Ron Wood, and George Harrison, who offered Alvin & Mylon this song a year prior to including it on his Dark Horse.
4. Manfred Mann, “Fox on the Run”
Since there are 10 versions of this song in the Concert Vault, I’ve run into it from a few different directions. After hearing performances by George Jones, Janie Fricke, John Anderson, McGuffey Lane, Pousette-Dart Band and Tom T. Hall, I assumed it was a country song. At some point I learned it was introduced to bluegrass by Bill Emerson who was working off a version written by Tony Hazzard for Manfred Mann in 1968…which is now my favorite version.
5. Clover, “Santa Fe”
Yup, I dig Huey Lewis…I came across a Clover show while working on a Huey & The News concert, and then I liked him even more. Some of the comments on this Clover show in the Vault mention that they played in their pajamas this night. Sounds good to me, but not as good as listening to Lewis work a crowd with his harmonica in the late ’70s within the context of a country rock band. This cut was a crowd favorite at that concert and the studio recording here is an even sweeter.
6. Ralph Stanley, “Man of Constant Sorrow”
When we first started listening to the tapes of the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals, this is one of the shows that stood out thanks to that George Clooney movie a few years back. It was one of those moments where we all just sort of looked at each other and thought that maybe even the kids would get excited about these recordings.
7. Sam Chatmon, “Cold Blooded Murder”
Before the Newport Collections, our most recent intake of tapes were from Ed Pearl, who recorded the shows he put on at his Ash Grove Club in Los Angeles. Pearl was an archivist himself, booking legendary roots musicians like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipsomb, The White Brothers, Bill Monroe, Merle Travis, Maybelle Carter, and more for his urban clientele. It’s sort of an ongoing joke that this is the best collection we have from an historical standpoint, but unfortunately one of the least listened to. Chatmon was one of the guys I had simply never heard of before Ed Pearl…and probably never would have heard of if it weren’t for him.
8. Moby Grape, “Rounders”
Moby Grape is an example of expected synchronicity in reverse for me. We have a fragment of a concert recording from these guys that I’ve always enjoyed, but I started going a little Moby Grape crazy after hearing the Bootcut Classics mix tape previously posted on WYA. I got as many downloads from these guys as I could find, including this one from the Vault.
9. Alice Stuart, “Daddy Go Down”
This also has connections to Bootcut Classics as Zach mentioned that Stuart might show up in his sequel for women in the genre. I had heard Alice through the Vault on a 1974 show with her band, Snake. They were more of a Southern Rock power trio and so her version of this Mississippi Fred McDowell tune from that show was aggressive; this version seems to better get at the song’s soul.
10. Justin Townes Earle, “Can’t Hardly Wait”
One way I often stumble on new stuff is through cover songs. I’ve made a few different volumes of ‘Daytrotter Covers’ playlists and this and #11 were on the first. JTE left notes on this song for his Daytrotter session where he says, “Replacements cover I like the song.” I don’t think I can say it any better.
11. The Punch Brothers, “Poor Places”
This is the song that got me to listen to, and then fall in love with, The Punch Brothers. From the band’s notes on Daytrotter:
The Punch Brothers are big Wilco Fans. Chris Thile can probably play and sing all of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot from memory. He’s a freak. Anyways, we love playing “Poor Places,”and felt Daytrotter was the perfect setting for it’s non-live show debut.
12. Jonathan Edwards, “Rockin’ Chair (Gonna Get You)”
One of the happiest songs about aging that I’m aware of, I hope to listen to this song on each of my birthdays from here on in. The first time I heard this song was on a 1976 concert, where the track was played even more joyously than it is here with just a piano, acoustic guitars and fiddle. Alan Bershaw, who manages our Bill Graham and Dinky Dawson archives (as well as Jewel’s), gets so excited about a show every once in a while that when he tells me about it, I try to drop whatever else I’m doing and give it a listen; that Edwards show was one of them.
13. Cris Williamson, “Shine On Straight Arrow”
Cris is one of the artists I gave a second listen to after seeing a touching comment left by a listener in The Vault. Her solo acoustic set from 1973 not only became more powerful as a result, but I ended up spending quite a bit of time reading her biographical information…very intriguing.
14. Blitzen Trapper, “Country Caravan”
For a while, I was completely confused when I saw a comparison between Blitzen Trapper and the Grateful Dead since BT always sounded a bit punk-ish to me. But the comparisons are somewhat justified by beautiful slices of Americana like this one.
15. Iron & Wine and Calexico, “Red Dust”
I came across this song and the next before my time at the Vault, but I’ve included them here because they were my first introductions to twangy goodness…so in a way, they led to my enjoying every other song on this mix.
16. CSN&Y, “Country Girl”
This is one of my top 10 favorite songs ever. Simply beautiful.
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