Sunday, February 12, 2023

Folk Lore and Other Fables

The Pine Café, Independence, California.

I have few words today as I’m in the throes of organizing something like 20 terabytes of photographs dating back to 2014. That scintillating task entails consolidating three billion images, I tend to inflate, from three big hard drives into one muy bigger one. That does not include five back-up drives that splay across my workspace. The result, nonetheless, will be less clutter, fewer cables, and less plugs in sockets. There may even be enough desk top left to replace the scanner that bit the dust last year.

Peek-a-boo, Lama, New Mexico.

Subtle Sky, Santa Paula, California.

That said, here is the second round of new Spot Color images which may or not be shown in the fifth biannual Immel + Immel show at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos at the end of August.

Red Stool in Rain, Telluride, Colorado.

Reflected Sky #1, Bartlett, New Hampshire.

And speaking of folk music, which we weren’t, there was at least one more close encounter with a folk super group of the era. The era being the early Sixties. My partner John and I were more or less the resident folk act at Arizona State University and were invitees to many a party after performances by visiting acts. One such act was The Limeliters, the Bay Area group founded by Lou Gottlieb, a musicologist at UC Berkeley, Glenn Yarbrough, a soaring tenor and star in his own right, and Alex Hassilev, a Paris born actor and musician who spoke six languages. Hassilev, I recall had a small part in the hilarious film The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. He is still with us at 90. Yarbrough died in 2016 at 83, Gottlieb at 73 in 1996.

Anyway, we attended a party after the Limeliters performed. We did a short set which was met with hearty applause. Hassilev was complimentary in a self-impressed way but was less sanguine about my beloved Martin 000-18, the iconic steel string guitar of the time. It was the gold standard of acoustic guitars. He shamed my choice of instruments saying something like, “Real musicians play classical guitars.” Being a gob smacked twenty-year old I promptly sold my 000-18 so I could buy a nylon string Goya G40 which later was stolen out of Lynn Quayle’s Triumph Spitfire in broad daylight. There may have been a bar involved. The Goya wasn’t my smartest move as a pre-1967 Martin 000-18 would be worth as much as $10,000 today. The G40 might bring a piddling grand. I had bought the used Martin at Chicago Music in Tucson in the fall of 1959 for $100. New ones brought $150 plus the case. How I came up with $100 when I was living on $150 a month is a mystery to this day.

To my surprise, Chicago Music is still purveying fine guitars after 100 years in Downtown Tucson. To think I bought that fine instrument 63 years ago makes me feel ver old, indeed.


Blacks Crossing said...

Exaggerate the number of images at will, Esteban! Every photographer on the planet, myself included, feels your pain. Organizing and transferring photographs is right up there with advertising one's work when it comes to how most photographers like to spend their days! But it must be done, so kudos on biting the bullet. Today's Spot Color images are great. The Pine Cafe' in Independence, California is nicely done, with great color choices. Subtle Sky in Santa Paula is indeed subtle and quite lovely. Thanks for the bonus of additional musical encounters in your life. Alex Hassilev has an IMDB listing of four films/series in which he was featured - The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming, one episode of Get Smart, one episode of Run for Your Life, and A Bucket of Blood (uncredited because he was singer-guitarist). Pity about his comments concerning your Martin 000-18 guitar. You did, however, do your short set after the Limeligher's performed. Such luminaries. More to that story and your Goya G40 being stolen from Lynn Quayle's Triumph Spitfire in broad daylight. What a time, what a time! More, please!

John Ellsworth said...

To this day, the idea of a Ph.D. in musicology sounds like a well-informed way to spend the old Pell Grant money. Instead, we bought 000-18s with our Pell Grant dollars. At least I'm willing to settle for that explanation because neither of us was smart with a dollar. I still am not today; thank the stars for a wife who is. Those were incredible years living on the cusp of discoverability with no money, no futures, and more gumption than talent, I believe, in hindsight, speaking only for myself. Hassilev was the consummate instrumentalist. I would've carried his banjo case in his travels had he only asked. We moved from there, that night, to the Baboquivari in Scottsdale, where we played a set during the midnight break taken by Dolan Ellis. Then back to our apartment in Phoenix with those two lady singers whose names I've long forgotten, who idolized us or ridiculed us behind our backs, I never was sure. Night, all.