Talk From The Rock Room: November 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019

Now Playing - The Grateful Dead - April 3, 1982 Scarlet Begonias->Fire On the Mountain – “Loose On The Town”

Now playing in the ‘rock room’ is the second set opener from the Grateful Dead’s April 3, 1982 concert at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. The Grateful Dead’s 1982 spring tour had begun with a rough and rockin’ show the evening before in Durham, NC, but this particular evening in Norfolk was a completely different affair. The entire show has a hallucinatory vibration that permeates the proceedings and lends the performance one of those rarified airs that tell the attendee and listener that it’s going to get stranger. The second set opening 25 minute “Scarlet Begonias-> Fire on the Mountain” is proof of this statement. The duo is a unique rendition featuring a particular segue between the songs and spectacular playing by all involved. For people that are into this sort of thing, this is also the Grateful Dead tour where Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh changed sides of the stage (the evening before). This factor could also be one of the reasons for the deep musical connection between Mydland and Garcia on this night.

I am listening to the wonderfully dynamic Bob Wagner/Charlie Miller audience recording as I write this rant. There is a Miller soundboard also available to enjoy, but in the ‘rock room’s’ humble opinion the Wagner is the way to go. The soundboards, especially from this era are terribly sterile, but the power of this performance nudged me to check it out as well.  As I stated above one can feel creativity in the air as the opening set of the concert spotlighted a well improvised “Bird Song’ and a crushing closing version of “Let It Grow” setting the table for the aural feast to follow. I was not planning on reviewing anything today let alone the whole show, but the stunning second set opener changed my plans for the afternoon.

“Scarlet” begins the second set with a smoky feel, slowly ignited like the rich oils of an incense stick. Brent Mydland washes the groove with thick Hammond organ swells and once Garcia enters with the vocals the tempo increases and the band is immediately locked in. Garcia is singing well and the band is fully invested in the medley.

The mid song Garcia solo is super fine, with Jerry taking five spins around the melodic track, culminating in a finale of bubbly scrubs. His melodic prowess on full display. Following the final lyric, the band quotes the “Scarlet” theme with Mydland in particular inflating the jam with airy key strokes. Garcia sets the tempo with lush strums revealing the pair of song’s rich and creamy center. Mydland again quotes the “Scarlet” theme under the percolating band before disassembling it into an array of crystalline fractals. Garcia’s plump tone is blue and icy, while the ambiance of the room comes through clearly as Garcia probes the landscape with prickly fret work. Weir works his neck as well with jittery strums that underpin Garcia’s fingers. The drummers work their cymbals and toms in conjunction increasing the groove while Lesh plays hide and seek underneath the rhythm. Lesh comes through on headphones much clearer, with both the audience and soundboard recordings unfortunately being a bit light on the bass.
At 9.5 minutes the band begins to coagulate. Garcia and Weir hook arms as Jerry finds something he really likes. Garcia hits the tickle spot and repeats, then adjusts, repeats and explores some more before knocking on the door of a danceable groove which he touches on before continuing on with the exploration. Weir is stunning in his clairvoyance, taking off ahead of Garcia before landing right next to him seamlessly. At a bit past 10 minutes Garcia settles into orbit, covering the song in a thick blanket of stars. Brent and Weir circle with him, folding the segue over onto itself. Garcia keeps lowering the jam, not in tempo but in dynamics, Garcia becomes a psychedelic clock, tic-tocking in slowed time. The crowd knows something is up and can be felt on the audience recording buzzing along.

Off on the distant horizon “Fire on the Mountain" waits, but it cannot yet be felt. Garcia blows on the embers hoping for flame, at 12 minutes he has taken the tune to no man’s land, where everything hangs in the balance. At around 12:30 the jam almost reaches silence whereas Weir, Brent and the drummers join Garcia in a plucky euphoric space. Destination has been reached and the firewall has been breached. The weightless circular Garcia riff wears off its edges while gaining traction. The melodic friction helps to mitigate a groove. Garcia then tickles higher on the neck waiting to feel the warmth from his musical embers while the beat boils. “Scarlet” is quickly quoted like a streetlamp passing by a car window, Mickey then slams a floor tom, Phil slides up his bass neck and the new fertile land between “Scarlet” and “Fire” has been discovered. Seamlessly the band gathers around the substantial mountain flames and “Fire on the Mountain” begins.

Similarly to the entire evening’s performance, Garcia continues his streak of pulling clandestine and unique melodies from a familiar structure. Lesh is now fully amped and very active and leads the way toward the incendiary summit. The first “Fire” solo is brassy and full of honk. By the final solo, Jerry plays with a clean tone while adding the filigrees and additional licks that always make a ‘normal’ reading into a special version. The rest of the concert follows in kind with a well played "Estimated->Eyes" to follow and a hearty post space "NFA".
For the Grateful Dead spring tour 1982 was an era where Brent Mydland had been fully assimilated into the group mind. While not a time as recognized as something like Spring 77, the period holds a number of unique and powerhouse performances. ( See: Hartford and Baltimore) While the Grateful Dead in the 1980's were heading toward bigger venues and larger internal problems, they were still able to access the gestalt linkage on lucky nights. In every Grateful Dead performance there is something unique to be discovered; and in the spring of 1982 these moments often occurred every night.

Grateful Dead The Scope 4-3-1982

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ian McLagan and the Bump Band - 2014 LP United States - "Send You A Love Letter"

Ian McLagan was always a busy man. In between his numerous live performances with a plethora of artists as well as his work in preserving the memory of his beloved band of brothers the Small Faces, he found the time to record albums of his own original music. Today in the "rock room" spins his 2014 album United States. In what would be his final LP before his untimely death in December of 2014, United States is packed tight with good music, crossing musical borders with McLagan’s current then collection of friends in the Bump Band.

McLagan is, of course, a legend; not only in the minds of Small Faces and Faces fans, but for the massive scroll of musicians who have brought him in to augment their own musical creations,including Recognizable names such as Jackson Browne, Warren Haynes, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, Buddy Guy and others to numerous to mention. With the Bump Band, McLagan offered a musical collection that dips into his deep, cool well of influences, experience and professionalism.

Developed on the road with the Bump Band, which was originally established in 1977, United States features Jud Newcomb on bass, Conrad Choucroun on drums, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Jon Notarthomas and McLagan on all things containing black and white keys. The project, which followed 2009’s soul searching and sometimes melancholy Never Say Never, exhibits a boozy swagger, cowboy attitude, and examines deep human relations.

Ian McLagan’s musical creations reveal in their details exactly how much melodic influence he was responsible for over the course of his 50-plus year career. He was the multifaceted R&B color in the Small Faces, and the gritty swagger behind many of the Faces’ legendary compositions — in addition to being a hired heavy left hand when the Stones needed it. The opening song on United States, “All I Wanna Do,” demonstrates this aforementioned swagger, featuring dank Fender Rhodes verses dropping into a ropy chorus breakdown, all of which is is later punctuated with Mac’s credible and breezy keyboard attack.
The following number, “Pure Gold,” is exactly that: The song contains a recognizable fruity delicacy that is the McLagan groove. The swirling organ driven melody is as cool as the icy sweat running down the side of a mixed drink, while it sounds like the Stones are playing in the background. McLagan’s vocals work in gravel contrast to the glittering music, though they coexist in perfect harmony. Vocals have never been McLagan’s greatest strength, of course, but over the years he has developed his own successful approach, gruff and emotive, similar to the styling of friend and former band mate Ronnie Wood.

The album continues with a truthful and vintage sound that exists without sounding dated, unfolding as an unpretentious display of an artist staying true to what he and his band do best, which is playing uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll and R&B.

“Don’t Say Nothing” begins dramatically on cathedral piano but, by the time the chorus enters, the song has become a smoldering slab of soul that climaxes excitedly. “I’m Your Baby Now,” with its streetlight groove, is a practiced concert favorite that sneaks around on slick slide guitar and barrelhouse piano rolls. “Mean Old World” brings to mind McLagan’s intimate duo shows with Notarthomas, unfolding as a personal piece of self examination with piano and guitar. Mac has always been able to pull a beautiful ballad from his fingers. The years have been kind to McLagan’s maturing abilities as a songwriter and interpreter, and his penchant for embracing sparse melodies are a gift passed down by partner and friend Ronnie Lane.

“Love Letter” is memorable, sealed with a tasty pop hook that supports the wistful lyrics and trademark Ian McLagan organ embellishments. The song’s melodic strength should have earned it deserved attention as far as circulation and airplay. The foreboding and funky “Who Says It Ain’t Love” is a total contrast to the airy “Love Letter,” featuring thick thumping drums and multiple layers of McLagan’s haunted musings. The track is a dark highlight of the resplendent collection, slithering in on a watery piano glissando that precedes the spectral blues-like changes. “Shlalala” follows, and despite its simplistic title, the song is a punchy pop number with a sing-along chorus, highlighted by another series of fiery soloing by both Notarthomas and McLagan.
United States concludes with two diverse and enticing songs, the first a jazzy attic portrait, the second comprised of colorful yearning. “How Blue” is a vaudevillian number that sounds like it could have been recorded in any era and with any band that McLagan has performed with in his career. Those familiar with his history know that a touch of vaudeville can always be found in Mac's tunes. "How Blue" retains a timeless energy and acts as a contrasting prelude to the beautiful closing song of the collection. “He’s Not for You” contains a south-of-the-border aesthetic, offering a precautionary warning message in the lyrics. Leigh Mahoney raises the stakes on violin, lending an air of class to the pub-crawling collection of musicians who swing on this number like a flawless brass pendulum in perfect time.

It’s comforting to revisit Ian McLagan and the Bump Band's final recorded output in the "rock room". In this age of plastic musical progress, songs where frills are kept to a minimum and honesty is the best policy are becoming harder to find. These wonderful musicians play songs for folks who like rock and roll and great songwriting. Ian McLagan is sorely missed and the Austin music scene as well as the world of rock and roll will always lack his unique music and personality. Hopefully Mac continues to jam in the next plane, where the beer will always be cold and the music is guaranteed to be heavenly.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Put The Boot In: The New Yardbirds become Led Zeppelin 2-14-69 Miami - 'A Valentines Day Massacre!'


Today's edition of "Put the Boot In" is looking at a pivotal and albeit amazing performance from Led Zeppelin's first American tour in early 1969. This performance is from Thee Image Club in North Miami beach Florida on Valentines Day 1969. The show comes from an audience recorded bootleg and released on the Tarantula label under the moniker "Yellow Zeppelin" After listening to this show I think a more apt title would be "A Saint Valentines Day Massacre", based on the way this early flight of Led Zeppelin bombards the unsuspecting crowd. The recording itself sounds great for an late 1960's recorded audience recording. The bass is slightly muffled at points and there is the obvious distortion issues based on the loudness of the band. But all in all, Jimmy is amped and Robert's vocals cut through the din. Bonzo's drums are gonna be audible no matter what! If you're looking for letter ratings this show gets a "B" for sound, but an "A" for performance. Just tune in, turn on, and crank up this recording and you will find it is a very enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes. In less that two years Zeppelin's popularity would know no bounds, and its recordings like this that show the band in its infancy, taking chances, and blowing minds.

The recording starts with John Bonham hammering out the tempo to the era specific opener, "Train Kept A Rollin". While the recording echoes slightly, once Jimmy's Yardbird's Telecaster slices through the electric air like an aerodynamic missile, any sound issues are forgiven. I can't comprehend what the crowd in attendance was thinking when this fire breathing beast walked on the stage. Led Zeppelin I had only been out since January, and while it was starting to move on the charts, the band was still relatively unknown. "Train" blasts down the tracks at a furious rate until it slams head on into the back of "I Can't Quit You Baby". Robert Plant absolutely howls the lyrics to this blues classic in such a way, that the thought crosses my mind that he may be the greatest vocalist ever! The show starts off that intensely! Jimmy Page's spry fingers scurry across the the fretboard like a spider searching for a dark corner. The detail and natural vibrato in this fingers is fascinating to hear even on this distant field recording. After the exhaustive opening Robert introduces the next song as being from their new LP that is 'currently doing pretty well, apparently". John Paul Jones plays the opening figure of "Dazed and Confused to light applause. "Dazed" is a song that underwent numerous changes over the course of its life, and was one of Zeppelin's main vehicles for improvisation.

These early first LP era versions are boiling over with energy and always contain a mystery or two. The Page bow sequence is very dark and very psychedelic, and has yet to fall into the "themes" that would become standard in later versions. Robert echoes Page's riffs with erotic groans and quotes some "Sugar Time" lyrics. When the band comes back together the rhythm section takes off from the starting gate like a shot. John Paul and Bonham so in the pocket that you couldn't get a drum machine to replicate their tightness. Jimmy surfs along the top with riff after riff, some familiar and some not so much, but all effective. Jimmy's guitar is so loud at this point in the recording I have to chuckle to myself. The music is vibrating with beautiful chaos at this point. The call and response between Robert and Jimmy is right on, its hard to believe the band has been together for less that six months, and are this good. During this era I have always thought there is something other worldly about the sound of Jimmy's 1959/60 Dragon Telecaster. There is an indescribable knife edge quality to Jimmy's attack that guitar players have been trying to replicate for years. This performance is full of consummate examples of that classic sound.

"Dazed and Confused" climaxes and concludes, but special notice must go to Jimmy's hallucinatory muted guitar lines after the return to the song, and before the final chord. Slippery and understated, Page's riffs are euphoric in their statement, a stand out moment of the song. The crowd reciprocates in generous applause as Zeppelin continues the show with "The Lemon Song/Killing Floor". This in my humble opinion is the best performance of the first half of the show thus far. The band rips into the double time segment of this song with such abandon that I play this part back three different times to gain a full appreciation. At this point all of the instrumentalist's are clear on the recording, and the band is cooking like a pasty tourist in the steamy Florida sunshine. Jimmy plays with a slightly clean tone that makes his riffs ring with a bell like quality. The true magic cast during this performance occurs when the band hits the "squeeze my lemon" breakdown. Page kicks his "crybaby" on and lays down a series of thick milky leads as Plant scats and quotes lyrics from the tune, "I Think You Need A Shot". Page's guitar continues to peel kaleidoscopic notes as the band picks up momentum. Suddenly we are back into the double time jam as the band rings all of the juice from this lemon, and crashes to a satisfying conclusion. Hats off to the entire band for a unique and special jam.

 Unfortunately after such a intense first half of the show the band enters into a slightly out of tune and ragged, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". This can be forgiven based on the music that proceeded it, but the song pails in contrast to the proceeding jams. The track is much better suited to an acoustic reading, but still an A for effort.It's easy to understand why the song was eventually dropped from future set lists. The final track on my disc one is "How Many More Times" and it shakes the windows and rattles the walls with no other than John Henry Bonham leading the charge. At one point during the improv Bohnam and Page enter a call and response that is devastating in its accuracy and concentrated energy. Page goes into duets with every member of the band at some point who then bounce back every idea that he throws out. A perfectly played game of rock tennis. Eventually Page hits on a quintessential Zep riff and the band locks into a thunderous jam with all hands on deck. As soon as the band locks onto an idea, Page starts to lead them on another journey toward Mordor. Page gets so far out with his licks before the Bolero segment that John Paul lets go with a series of sliding bass lines that may induce dizziness. It's a shame that this version of "How Many More Times" cuts shortly after the concerts second "bow" interlude. I am of the opinion that this is one of the finest early Zeppelin shows I have heard, and if a soundboard ever surfaced it would yield amazing treasures. The second bow interlude is as euphoric and dark as the earlier "Dazed" breakdown, but quietly fades just as the band is ready to turn another corner. Damn! Oh well, I must be thankful for the bit that circulates and that we can all enjoy.

 The second disc starts with Page on stage solo for his spotlight, playing "White Summer/Black Mountainside". This version, like all of them contains unique improvisations within the basic structure of the song cycle. While nothing jumps out at me for being completely special, this is a well played version with Jimmy playing concisely. This Page spotlight acts as the "whisper to the thunder" that follows. I am barely prepared for the following "As Long as I Have You" that startles me out of my seat with a crashing guitar strike by Jimmy. Unbridled power is all that comes to mind as the band roughs up the crowd with this naked display of brute strength and musical ability. At this point in the band's career they were lacking original compositions, so songs like "As Long As I Have You" were their main improvisational vehicles until tunes like 'Whole Lotta Love" came into the rotation. There are a few versions of this song available on other Zep boots such as 4/24/69 and 4/27/69 which contain soundboard sound quality and arguably more mature performances. But this in no way dampens the astonishing intensity of this audience recording. Intensity may be too broad a term for this jam, as it is full of dynamics, light, shade, and careful instrumental placement. But it is played with such enthusiasm and strength that intensity seems an apt description.

 At around five minutes into the song things really heat up as Bonham and Page start to churn a delicious groove that just rumbles quietly until igniting into a "Mockingbird" jam. Jimmy has his "Wah Wah" emanating a slippery whine behind Robert's bellowing vocals. The jam suddenly drives into a heavy syncopated rock and roll swing with Page laying down his most impressive "Yardbird" riffs which are marinated in a spicy psychedelic sauce. Riff after riff is shot out like machine gun ordnance until they climax into a long sound wave of guitar feedback  that segues into a wordless Robert Plant scream recital. Led Zeppelin is now a tight and smoking R&B band strutting their stuff across the darkened stage. "As Long As I Have You" epitomizes the early Led Zeppelin ideal, and gives fans a glimpse into the band's influences, and a peek at the "nuts and bolts" of the group. This is Led Zeppelin broken into their primal elements. At one moment the band is a sharp toothed beast clawing its way toward your throat, at another a dancing gazelle gliding across the landscape.

 Taking a brief pause Robert Plant speaks to the breathless audience, "In spite of the high spirits we are going to do a blues". What follows is a clinic in "white boy blues" put on display by the band. "You Shook Me" was a staple of the band's early sets, and it never failed to ignite the band into a lumbering blues swing. Plant channels all of his blues idols and regurgitates their influence in a primitive and ancient scream. It's amazing how tied into each others performances Page and Plant are even at this early stage of the band's career. There are numerous versions of "You Shook Me" available in the Zeppelin bootleg world, but its versions like this that make me shutter. I have to say I believe that the other British blues/rock bands at the time (Cream, Stones, Fleetwood Mac) paled in comparison to the "Zep" interpretations of the blues during their early career.

The concert recording ends with what Zeppelin fans know as an early version of "Moby Dick", lovingly named "Pat's Delight" after John Bonham's wife. I am not aware if this is indeed the true end of the concert, but it does end the recording I have and my review. Book ended by an instrumental passage to set the stage, "Pat's Delight is thirteen minutes of recognizable and thundering John Bohnam drumming. Double and triple paradiddles scream by the audience at speeds unknown to modern drummers except maybe Buddy Rich. I love that during Bonham's spotlight people near the recording gear can be heard letting out hoots and hollers as they watch Bonham unleash on his kit with superhuman strength. A highlight of hundreds of Zeppelin concerts this segment is another chance to listen in awe to the natural wonder which is John Henry Bonham.

 This early field recording of of a young and hungry Led Zeppelin illustrates the four distinct, yet still developing personalities beginning the construction of their empire. The defiant Robert Plant, the magical Jimmy Page, the stoic John Paul Jones, and the animal John Bonham, learning to listen to one another and to develop a rapport that has been unequaled in rock and roll. The future after this concert will be filled with legendary and incredible performances by an older and more mature band. In contrast, these early concerts demonstrate a band learning on the fly, experimenting, and having fun traveling into the unknown. By developing medieval science's and myth, the band will create a mystical stew that will metamorphosis into something the four musician's could only fathom in their dreams. Sit down with this recording and witness Led Zeppelin in their infancy, hear musical giants change the landscape of rock, and be a part of a magical musical ritual that continues to this very day.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Take One: Richard Thompson – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning – “To Ride”

Accelerating from the speakers of the ‘rock room’ today is a song that was listed by Time magazine as one of its “All Time 100 Songs”. The song was birthed as a nondescript album track on Richard Thompson’s 1991 LP Rumor and Sigh and in the intervening years has become one of his most beloved cuts. The tune has since been covered by a plethora of artists and admirers including but not limited to Del McCoury, Jim Henry and Bob Dylan. If Bob Dylan covers one of your tunes, I think it's safe to say you have made it as a songwriter. For Thompson, the song is a concert staple up through this day requiring only himself and an acoustic guitar. 

Thompson’s songwriting has always been and continues to be full of dark imagery and magical accompaniment; in many ways this song could be viewed as a fitting culmination of all of his career successes. Thompson deftly conjures mystery from both pastoral and suburban landscapes, he pulls from both conscious and subconscious narrators. It’s an unknown commodity to understand the connection between a song and its developed audience. While there is no doubting the diverse and inspired amount of music Richard Thompson has made throughout his career with ‘Fairport Convention’, Linda Thompson, and as a solo artist, the song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ was a flash caught in a bottle and has become a Calvary cross for the career of Thompson.

Thematically the song encapsulates, myth, sexuality, attraction, and danger in a glistening chrome package of steel strings. Thompson prior to a performance of the song described it as, It's a simple boy meets girl story, complicated somewhat by the presence of a motorcycle". By using an “object of myth” like the unbelievably rare 1952 Vincent Black Thompson taps into every young man’s psyche of Thompson’s time, or actually of any time. Only a handful (31 total) of the unbelievably fast bikes were manufactured and one can assume the legendary machine made quite an impression on the young Thompson. As an aside, recently (2018) one of the motorbikes sold for $929,000 US dollars. A red headed girl, a bike, leather and a series of crimes performed to get said bike inject the song with a cinematic romance that permeates all of Thomson’s compositions but in this particular instance, bleed out in Technicolor.

The song begins with Thompson’s recognizable hybrid picking (also called Travis picking) resplendently sparkling like a sun kissed highway. Thompson plucks out the central riff as one of two protagonist's ‘Red Molly’ sees James and his bike of the first time. It must be noted that in addition to the compositional majesty of this song, please watch Richard play it live HERE to understand and grasp the virtuosity on display to develop the central riff of the tune. For guitar players witnessing the fret reach of Thompson’s nimble fingers is awe inspiring enough.
James and Red Molly share an attraction that is consolidated with the Vincent. With minimal internal relationship details revealed lyrically, the music assists the narrative with Thompson’s dark deep oil vocal pouring out emotion at the end of each stanza. James promises via a ring to ‘Red Molly’ that his prized possession will be hers someday as the implication that she is the only love true enough to be gifted his Vincent.

Conversational in tone, dramatic in feel the song takes the listener around hair pin corners. It flies past in a blur with guitar and vocals wind swept in inspiration. Mid song Thompson separates the verses with a dramatic string stretching that diverges from the normal picking of the song. The lovers are quickly torn apart because of James checkered past (he had been robbing since age 17 to get his Vincent) when he takes a shotgun blast to the chest. Dramatically the music increases its intensity transparently as the narrative reaches its crux. You’ve heard the famous adage about speaking about music is like dancing about architecture, well in this case the ‘rock room’ will be quiet and let the song sing for itself.

In current performances the song has rounded off the rough edges found in early renditions. During one concert from 2002 referenced on the Richard Thompson discussion site RT List, it is stated that one lucky crowd got to hear additional lyrics not contained on the studio version of the song. Thompson referred to the ‘missing’ lyrics as the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the song. The lyrics were transcribed as follows:

Reported as following opening verse:
Says James this Black Lightning is a fine pedigree
On the Bonneville Salt Flats in the hands of Rollie Free
A factory model not rebored no tricks
The speed always steady on 146
They smashed through the land speed record that day
So I just had to have my own come one May
So you see it's a matter of some pride, that Vincent is the mark that I must

Reported as following the final verse:
Well Molly stole his body from the hospital bed
Said we'll give him a decent burial yet
They cremated him out in the dark cold rain
Then they stripped his fuel tank right off the frame
Then they poured in his ashes as the (unknown word) flowed
I buried him there with a view of the road
And even the hard men cried
And forever on his Vincent he rides

The ‘rock room’ has been unable to find a version of the song with the aforementioned lyrics performed. If you have one, please let me know! One additional aspect that makes Thompson’s live versions unique is the lyric where he sings three makes of motorcycles that, ‘don’t have a soul like a Vincent 52’. Thompson likes to plug in a number of different bikes that fail to reach the standard of the Vincent, famous makers such as, Ducati, Harley, and Triumph.
With such a bottomless musical well of pure English inspiration, to focus on one Richard Thompson track seems a fool’s folly. Regardless, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is only one tree poking its head above a lush green canopy of melodic treetops. Richard is a treasure for a myriad of reasons, his unique native voice, his guitar playing fingerprint unlike any other, and his ability to turn out an original tale. The aforementioned factors that make him wonderful, are also the reasons he has dodged ‘mainstream’ popularity, all the while remaining true to his muse.