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Davey Graham

PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:08 am
by Garth Cartwright
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05p9wyq
The Tom Robinson feature on Davey Graham is back on line for a week. It's not a bad listen even though I remain unconvinced about Graham's genius of that he "invented world music". After listening my impression was that DG was a gifted acoustic guitarist who lived the Beat lifestyle to the fullest and in doing so destroyed his talent and health. Adam, any thoughts on DG? Alan, I guess you saw him in the 60s?

Re: Davey Graham

PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:58 am
by Adam Blake
Davy Graham was a tremendously important figure in the history and development of the steel string guitar in the UK. He more or less single-handedly invented a baroque style of playing that incorporated jazz, blues and folk and also Renaissance music, Indian classical music and even N.African (Moroccan) music. His virtuosity and inventiveness saved him from being merely an eclectic, and his feel for the music he played ensured he was taken seriously by proper jazzers. Graham basically laid down the ground rules for a whole new type of guitar playing that, perhaps, reached its apotheosis with the duets played by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. He was also a massive influence on a young Paul Simon who put in his time in the Soho folk clubs in 1964.

But he was a heroin addict. Like many junkie artists, he managed three or four years of extraordinary creativity before the smack fucked him up. It took a long time to kill him but it got him in the end. Before it did, there was a long, undignified decline. Even when his playing was uneven and, frankly, boring, you could still hear echoes of his unique take on the form. A tragic figure? Maybe. I tend to think of him as a bit like an English John Fahey. I wonder if they ever met. God, can you imagine the uncomfortable silence?!

His influence has rather waned these days - John Martyn and Nick Drake have had much more impact on earnest young acoustic guitarists of today, but both Martyn and Drake owed a big debt to Graham.

Re: Davey Graham

PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:36 pm
by NormanD
Bert Jansch first learned to play via Dav(e)y Graham's sister. There must hang a tale.

DG had a cafe in Forest Hill, in 1961, called The Mingus Cafe. As it's pretty much down the road from me, I'm determined to find out more.

My playing pal, Irene, had some guitar lessons from DG. Or maybe that should be "lessons". Good players do not necessarily make good teachers - he was a case in point.

Adam's summary seems right on to me. He may also have been his own worst enemy, prone to inconsistency and self-sabotage - often the way with too many far less talented people. But his "Anji/Angie" is an undying standard that was long a rite of passage for every folk guitarist. A reputation based on that alone is well worth celebrating.

With John Renbourn now gone, we don't have that many of his generation still standing. But Wizz Jones is still very much with us, and we should cherish and support him. Can you please book him again, Garth?

Re: Davey Graham

PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:35 pm
by Adam Blake
NormanD wrote:My playing pal, Irene, had some guitar lessons from DG. Or maybe that should be "lessons". Good players do not necessarily make good teachers - he was a case in point.


Lord, I'd forgotten that a guy I knew had lessons off him too - at £25 a pop - which was a lot in the early 90s. Graham used to nod out, wake up, hawk on the floor, explain some arcane tuning, set a fiendishly difficult fingerpicking pattern to go with it, and go back to sleep. Ker-ching...