More dueling banjos

Remember the dueling banjo scene from the movie Deliverance?

Last night I found another clip on YouTube with a Laurel and Hardy look-alike duking it out with guitar and banjo.

Awesome, aren’t they? Have a super-cool weekend.

And here’s Moore guitar…

I have committed a grievous offense. A few days ago I posted a blog about some of the greatest guitarists I have come across but neglected to mention a legend, who after Peter Frampton, inspired me the most to start playing, err… air guitar.

I’m going to put that right now and I hope the atoms that once was Gary Moore will forgive my error of omission. Here’s a song which he co-wrote with Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. There’s a point in the song where he appears to hold or sustain a note for around 26 seconds in some live versions and it has always fascinated me. Seems like a neat trick, but it’s explained quite simply here.

Incidentally, I would never have associated Parisienne Walkways with Figure Skating, but this bit of trivia might interest you. Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan broke his own world record at the 2014 Sochi Olympics skating to Parisienne Walkways, with a world record score of 101.45.

Note: The video above is from 2013, the Fukuoka, Japan, ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Final, not the Sochi Olympics.

Flamenco Monday

Yesterday the girls and I attended a performance at the Wits University by a trio of highly talented artists from India, who played a fusion of Eastern and Western music on guitar, electric mandolin and a variety of percussion instruments.

The outfit known as the Mandolin Prakash Trio combined the precise timing of South Indian music with Afro-Latin rythyms which I found visually exciting at times, but quite drawn out in some places. Overall however, it was a feast for the senses, especially some of the strange-looking percussion instruments.

So while I’m in a flamenco kind of disposition today, here is something more familiar to general audiences. Paco De Lucia (sadly now deceased), John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola performing Mediterranean Sundance.

Sabbath/Zeppelin mashup

mashup (noun) – a mixture or fusion of disparate elements. In the case of music, a mashup is a song or composition created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the instrumental track of another. [Google/Wikipedia]

I’ve never been overly fond of mash-ups, but when it works well, it can sound awesome. Like this for instance:

This mashup is hardly the fusion of disparate elements; more like the marriage of the love-children of rock/metal gods. Combining the genius of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant is well… genius.

War Pigs by Black Sabbath has always made it into someone’s Top 40 best Heavy Metal songs of all time. Guitar World actually rates it as the best Heavy Metal song, ever.

Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin also features prominently in the rankings of Best Hard Rock or Best Guitar Tracks. VH1 rated it the third best Hard Rock song of all time.

Now I’m off to look, but I doubt I’ll find anything as good as this…

The Viking’s A Beatles Fan

Just got back from my mid-year break in Durban and one of the highlights was the opportunity to hang out with my cousin’s two year-old son, Erik.

Erik’s father hails from Denmark, and it’s something of a family jest to refer to him as a little Viking. Long before he’d turned two, he had an affinity for music. Initially he developed a liking for Pink Floyd as I remember, probably because his dad has a pretty decent collection of vinyl’s. Back then Erik had already started showing interest in The Beatles, and would demand that everyone played “The Beats” for him. He’s now able to choose the records he likes by identifying the album sleeves, and has picked up a line or two of some of the songs.

He’s currently fixated with Hey Jude, but is always talking about Lady Madonna, another Beatles hit. According to Erik, Lady Madonna is Hey Jude’s sister. But his taste for music is phenomenal for someone so young. He’s into Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Michael Jackson too.

I got him a half-sized guitar and was lucky to catch him playing on one of my visits.

I’m hoping his parents encourages him to learn to play the guitar as soon as possible. The prospect of an amusing and entertaining visit in the not too distant future is worth savouring.

Freshly Played #12: Ravi Shankar

I don’t know what it is about string instruments that mesmerize me so. The rousing strains of guitar music usually are enough to leave me in fits of ecstasy.

However, sometimes one needs to hear something more soothing. When I’m in this disposition, violins usually do the trick, but there is another instrument originating in the East which looks quite unwieldy, but produces the most orgasmic melodies imaginable – the Sitar.

When it comes to the Sitar, there is no better exponent of its power to tease the senses, than Ravi Shankar. I have chosen this video of a set he performed in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, during what is regarded as the precursor to Live Aid benefit concerts – The Concert for Bangladesh. The concert was organised by George Harrison of The Beatles, in conjunction with Shankar.

Shankar is accompanied by Ali Akbar Khan, a well-known master of Indian music, on another beautiful string instrument, the Sarod.


Freshly Played #7: Dueling Banjos

Dueling Banjos

For me, the most memorable part of the film Deliverance was the scene in which Ronny Cox on guitar, squares off against the inbred kid playing the banjo. Incidently, the composition made famous by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell for the film, was used without permission from the original composer Arthur Smith, who managed to sue the filmmakers successfully.


Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Steve Martin is an actor who is more famous for his comedic roles in films, but is quite an accomplished banjo player too. Here he is accompanied by the Steep Canyon Rangers on the Late Show with David Letterman.


Freshly Played #5: Joe Bonamassa

India/Mountain Time

There are so many songs with great guitar riffs that I am partial to, but right now the one that’s playing in my head constantly is India/Mountain Time by Joe Bonamassa. I don’t know what it is about guitar riffs, but they cause my the fingers on one hand to involuntarily hold chords that are all wrong over an imaginary fret board, while the other strums on imaginary strings.

Air guitar is a phenomenon that affects many people the world over; I’m certainly not immune. But I tend to do it dead sober, even in public. I can’t help it, and here’s a reason why:

Hope that took you far away to another world. And don’t fight the impulse to straddle those imaginary strings; it’s quite okay to become afflicted too.