Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bluemantle Revisited

I have tried twice to get this next post up and running, and trotted well down the track, only to hear the starter's gun sound again to call me back. Will I get all the way out with the third try? The problem has been new information coming after the earlier inspiration. The first interruption was from something negative, I if I remember correctly, possibly some mistake of mine. Right. Yes it was. I had confused two songs, thinking that "Angel From Montgomery" was "Boulder to Birmingham". But this one is very nicely the opposite. I might be getting somewhere with the local press, no longer, by the way, owned by Conrad Black, whom I once tried to persuade to invest in filming in the Kootenays. I hear that Conrad is teaching American history to fellow inmates in Georgia. I wonder if he's got to Andrew Jackson. Andy and I are very, very, dear old friends, and not just because we own a Nashville Telly. That's what it's like when your main turf is the hereafter, and old history becomes very current new history.
When I came up to the computer, when it was time to leave my agents to their own particular concerns and analysis of current events, a few moments ago, I had a message from the editor of the Weekender, the weekly omnibus of stories from and relevant to the larger surrounding area of Nelson, which includes Trail, which I was moved to think now might play a part in the next phase of re-educating the world on the question of proper music instruction. The Weekender's mother, the Nelson Daily News, as on occasion in times past, has not always been swift to pick up on the current intuitions that drive my daily processes, and I have been afraid that my second home town's reputation was once again about to take a knock on the world stage. I mean, for forty years and counting Nelson has been like one of my kids, worth praising here, needing a cuff on the ear there, but basically always available for a dinner invitation. But for months, the so-called leadership has functioned like a bunch of teenagers who don't know how to smell a turkey when it's in the oven.
But it could be that Darren Davidson has rescued the local situation. Darren is the editor of the Weekender, and also part of the brass at Kootenay Mountain Culture. He likes people, thinks big and imaginatively, and I was only saying last night, after I had written him with an idea, that he could probably do very well in a much larger setting, but he just likes living in the mountains, by a lake, in a town full of poets and painters, musicians, and upcoming Norman Jewisons.
This while we were watching Steve Martin and Kevin Kline and Jean Reno's "Pink Panther", in part a tribute to Blake Edwards, Peter Sellers, and Herbert Lom, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the launching of the original.
Martin, of course, did most of his "Roxanne" in Nelson, including a scene in the very restaurant where my oldest, now journalist, daughter, had her wedding party, with her brother's band providing the music, and a former back-up goalie for the Glasgow Celtics one of the bar tenders. The other bar tender, Bob Caron, has a sister doing country and western in Nashville. Right. There are times when the degrees of separation, as vanished in Heaven, grandly descend to Earth.
Martin's Clouseau, of course, is rather busy among the soccer fraternity. And Darren and I go back to the Summit Gym, where we talked about having been rugby nuts. And then occasionally we talked on the phone when he was really looking for Shawn for museum or arts council bites. But now I think we might talk some very serious stuff about music education.
Can the Weekender save Ontario taxpayers from wasting millions of dollars? Will the Weekender wake up the education people in Victoria, who have no idea whose prayers they're riding on over the Olympic factor? Or who it was that set the Hawaiian police on Gordon Campbell when he was busy playing Dracula with the poorest of the poor?
We are now, as often in this process, a few days later. Yesterday I emailed Warner Canada, as I am now ready to rewrite Johann Sebastian's Bach's Two Part Inventions. Would they like the publishing contract to the Red Book of Scales and Studies? I've begun this work, and it's had its approval from the cook who has to listen to whatever I do outside the earphones and the Roler.
I think to myself that they might go for it, and I also think that with the economy brought so low CEO's in general are too traumatized to see the forest for the trees, in which case we can always go to You Tube. That could be fun: Mrs Buckley's Tea Chest all over again, but around the world, except for the places without Internet. Does Warner have a printing plant in Timbuktu?
A few months ago, Warner New York was not a little thick. At least with me. It's all right. They all laughed at Robert Fulton, until Cunard caught on to him. And then Cunard laughed at icebergs, which was unfortunate for the Titanic and its passengers. These things take time. The goin' up is worth the comin' down.
Why Warner? Well, in 2004 they re-released the 1975 recording of "Pieces of the Sky". Emmylou Harris, vocals and guitar; Brian Ahern, arranger, producer, and some guitar here and there. Now from start to finish, this was/is a great album, first class in its own right, and exceptionally useful to my operations of the moment. I recommend it highly to any band that has to take on a bar scene. Do what that album does, and you can't fail. If you do fail, then shoot the audience. It doesn't deserve to live. Our trio did a bar scene, for one weekend only, in 1976. That was a year after the album came out, but for various reasons I hadn't heard of it, even though Bill Langstroth had sent me a copy of "Annie", in 1972, so I knew all about Brian Ahern and his ability to make very solid records. We had an easy time of it on the Friday night, to a packed bar, not especially addicted to country music, but the Saturday turned somewhat into one of those classic scenes delineated so beautifully in both Blues Brothers films. We did have some country in our library, but not enough for the Good Old Boys of the Kootenays, and things only got back into the groove at the end of the night, when the GOBs buggered off and we closed the evening with a steady run of Dylan, with a young lad sitting right below the stage thinking that Shawn had simply wonderful tastes as well as skills, and was very happy to be where he was.

A day later

These memories have always been there, but they are especially relevant now as we commence the resurrection of Bluemantle, perhaps for public performance, but primarily and definitely for the sake of the You Tube or website version of the presentation of the music system. It's been getting to these conclusions that have continually interrupted this broadcast. Last night I began the initial design work for the Net on the piano, with the chorale "Georgia", that opens the opera; and this morning I continued with our Godin built Nashville Telly. That elegant little critter can go on earphones too, like the Roler, so guess what I now get to do in the wee smalls. I call her the Red Devil, just for fun, and boy, has she been neglected while I took the keyboard apart. But there was no way I was going to set her up and then not be able to deliver as she deserves just because I didn't have my scales and arpeggios and double stopping and fingering all figured out just like God always intended for those who understood that the universe been fashioned from something other than a mouldy haggis.
Number, measure, and The Weight. "I pulled into Nazareth . . . ."
We own about all the albums that Dylan made. Him and Lightfoot and The Band. But of course most of those are LP's and our turntable lacks a needle. So MT has decided to restock with CD's and this morning from Packrat Annie's brought home Nashville Skyline and Blood on the Tracks.
Talking to Shawn about singing is a little like courting her again. As always, she has options, having always loved art and being not too bad with a pencil and thinking about taking a drawing class or two.
But she is thinking. After hearing me rave about "Pieces of the Sky" for a week, she sat down at piano and picked out our composition for a drama based on the 1886 or thereabouts murder at the Bluebell Mine, located where the retirement village of Riondel now stands. The hour long radio play was produced here in 1973, in the summer, and aired later on the national network of the CBC. I think it was in the process of writing the song that I first thought I might one day have to write an opera. It's always been a little sad, moreover, not to be able to hand a record of the song to the inevitable inquiry that follows the hearing.
We're working on it.


cabbage ears said...

Singing is not always about the perfection of the instrument. Use of the instruments begetting the music is a different matter. But then again who really wants to play an instument badly? Nobody in their right mind. Ever. Think about Dylan, Leonard Cohen, even Gordon Lightfoot. Interpreting a song with the voice is beyond the bounds of what is right and wrong regarding delivery. Beauty in the singing medium can be delivered in a fashion that can beg correction, but then again do you really need it? Opera singers tackling lighter stuff is a good example.Yuck, usually. Nothing wrong with singing from the valuable vantage of the heart.

the kootenay ranger said...

You are quite uncanny. In 2002, in the merry month of August, as MT and I were leaving Mojo's, at Kootenay Bay, for our weekly walk to the lighthouse, I was hit with an idea for new novel. A lot of the same old characters, but specifically about training a couple of actors to actually sing their own roles in the film version of an opera based on Gone With the Wind.Much of the point of the story is about actually training opera singers correctly, so that they can do the lighter stuff as it should be done.