“Turf meets the Surf”
The Definitive Interview with the “Segovia of Surf”… Toulouse Engelhardt
by Harvey Kubernik
Q: Where did the album title “Mind Gardens” come from? Expand on the “13 Novelettes of Space, Time and Contemplation”.
“I have always said that the guitar is a universe onto itself. The longer I play the more I realize I really don’t know anything at all for the perpendicular and parallel lines intersect to form wondrous sounds just like the endless combinations of nucleotides inside a DNA molecule create wondrous phenotypes.”
The concept of “Mind Gardens” began to synthesize about two years ago. After much contemplation and experimentation, I decided to return to Chris Darrow’s visionary “Toullusions” production formula that captivated guitar fans many years ago. With the release of my first album in the John Fahey/ Leo Kottke/ Takoma Records finger style fandom orbit the album went ballistic, so why not return to Cape Canaveral and rocket through an interstellar wormhole and return to the same successful production formula again?
This is only my third acoustic guitar project since the release of my critically acclaimed first album,“Toullusions” that was distributed through John Fahey’s legendary Takoma Records in 1976 and was reissued by Sierra/Hollywood Records, a Walt Disney Company in 1996!
This new collection has 13 novelettes for acoustic guitar and spans the vast spectrum of musical form and is a plethora of eclectic guitar virtuosity. Included in this sonic odyssey, are 11 original compositions for 12-String and Spanish Guitar, encapsulating my signature lightning fast free-form guitar style, a touch of atonal experimentation and melodic fantasias. There is also, a new transcription for 12-String guitar of “Sarabande” composed by Francis Poulenc in 1960, a brutal adaptation of the classic surf tome “The Wedge” written by the “King of the Surf Guitar” Dick Dale and a challenging arrangement of the traditional hymn; “Simple Gifts” recorded “live” in concert in 2013!
Q: Where was this project recorded and tell me about the room and engineer, Marc Smaniotto.
I found an inventive sound engineer named Marc Smaniotto who has a very cool little studio called Abacab Multi-Media. The room is about two blocks away from where the “King of the Surf Guitar” Dick Dale used to hang back in the sixties” in the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa, CA. suburban scene behind the “Orange Curtain”. When Marc’s not busy doing voice overs for Hollywood or recording, I just call him up and say “Lets Go!” As we finished up one tune, the “Swell Effect” would initiate another session and another and before we knew it we had another master in the can! I know it seems like eons pass between each of my sonic odysseys, but so what if it takes me ten years between releases? I guess that’s why they call me the “Zen Cat of Acoustic Guitar”? I just float around in a timeless void putting out 5 Star albums once every total solar eclipse!
Q: What is the difference in recording a song comparing to playing it live in front of people. Are the studio and the live music situation two different things?
It’s more like mirror imagery. In each situation you are confronted by a whole different series of variables, but in the end the challenges remain the same. When I’m recording, I often fall into what Andres Segovia’s “Chosen Son” classical guitar virtuoso and music scholar Michael Lorimer used to call, “I Know I Can Play This Solo Better Syndrome”. As a result, he would never record or sign a record contract because he always knew that once a track was on tape, he could perform it better. I can relate to that too. When performing “Live” you have to deal with a series of random variables. The point being, the variables change like in a Calculus problem, but in the end you still have to know your Algebra! Maybe that’s why we put a challenging “Live” track on “Mind Gardens” too?
Q: Can you discuss the cover art and graphics on your albums especially “Toullusions” and Mind Gardens? What was your connection with Rick Griffin?
It was 1974 when we sold the masters to John Delgatto who worked the album through Fahey’s madness at Takoma. The first thing they asked me was who’s going to do your album cover art? I said I wanted Rick Griffin and they looked at me like I was crazy and laughed, yeah right dude! So my co-producer and ole’ friend, Jeff “Zomar” Brough made a random phone call down to Surfer Magazine one day asking to speak with the art editor of the magazine who just happened to be the “Master of Psychedelic Art” himself, Rick Griffin. Rick’s first comment was. “Listen I don’t do just anybody’s album covers man! I need to come and hear this Toulouse guy play first.” So one night in LA, out of the blue, he showed up at a gig with his wife Ida and his art agent Gordon McClelland and I blew them all away! He came right up to me after my set and said; “Here’s my studio number in San Clemente and that was it! A week later “Zomar” and I headed down to his pad with a 12 pack of Tecate’ and a couple of reefers. Sitting around at “El Griffo’s” studio surrounded by numerous masterpieces including; Robert Hunter’s “Tales of the Great Rum Runners” and the Grateful Dead’s “Wake of the Flood”, he asked me what I had in mind for the cover design. I told him how much I worshiped the poster art he created for the film “Pacific Vibrations”. He said he loved my comical little tune “Sailkatz Lament”, a little tone poem I wrote about a Felix the cat who gets flattened by a semi-truck and turned into a Frisbee! If you look at the album cover art today, you will see what I’m talking about! He picked up on all of the elements of our conversation that afternoon! There all there man in brilliant shades of azure blue, and turquoise. Exploding water droplets of liquid energy and his hilarious interpretation of a “sailkat” soaring through a fluid orgasm of sound and H2O. The cover art has become recognized as one of his many classic works and the “Sailkat” has now become my official trademark!
Looking back, I was incredibly lucky to have his friendship and respect for all those years and when we went cruising down Pacific Coast Hwy in my VW bus, he often told me, my first producer, Chris Darrow and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, that my first album,“Toullusions” was his favorite acoustic instrumental album of all time!
The cover graphics on, “Mind Gardens” is another story! Forrest Ackermann turned me on to Sci-Fi pulp magazine art after giving me a personal tour of his amazing collection of Sci/Fi Memorabilia at the “Ackerman Mansion” up in the Hollywood Hills back in the 70’s. The place is a museum of treasured Sci/Fi memorabilia and literature. The cover design came from an 87-year-old issue of “Wonder Stories” published in 1929. The imaginative cover art encapsulates the acid-folk string visions that I wanted to present on this album. To me the album cover art is a direct reflection of the contents of the record and delivers a signal to the listener to be prepared for anything! I have always placed a high priority on my album cover artwork. It’s has to be great “teaser” while at the same time, give the listener some tantalizing clues about the toonz they are about to explore.
Q: You’ve always talked about this sound concept “Acoustic Visualizations.” How has this developed and is this how you look at music before we hear it?
I like to call my signature compositions “acoustic visualizations” because I strive to create visual imagery in my toonz. This idea is nothing new. Claude Debussy used this same idea to create “Tone Poems” in the 1890’s. Every one of my toonz tells a story, using musical notes to paint a cinematic, impressionistic image in the listener’s mind.
My ole bro Denny Bruce, who was the former producer and manager of John Fahey and Leo Kottke and Co-Owner of Takoma Records sums it all up perfectly…
“Toulouse is a master of his craft. His inventions are timeless, kaleidoscopic and spatial as Oceania and Interstellar Space. He knows how to create visual imagery through the idiom of music. His music sounds or maybe I should say looks, like constant Northern Lights, as the listener descends through stained glass, falling from the sky through a prism.”
For this guitarist, it’s not all about technical prowess, I’ll leave that to wiz Tommy Emmanuel, but it’s about taking chances, having “balls” and no limitations. I know that alot of the toonz I write don’t follow the rules of music theory, so what? If a toon is “visualizing” what I conceived in my thoughts and dreams thats all that matters. Remember what Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So I just do what I do and travel where I feel I need to go at any moment in space/time to express my thoughts and feelings. In a way, it’s a form of abstract expressionism on a Jackson Pollock drip painting level!
Q: Science Fiction continues to be a strong influence on your music and life. Can you explain your organic pre-occupation with TV shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits?”
That’s funny that you mention that, it’s so true! Not only was I a devoted follower of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” and Joseph Stefano’s “The Outer Limits”, but more importantly, after watching these two shows I discovered some of the best Avant-garde mid century orchestral scores ever recorded. Not only are the “Bookend Scores”, (the opening and closing music) stunning on both shows, but the subtle jingles and wonderful musical passages throughout each of the episodes has always been a huge inspiration over me. Both Rod Serling and Joseph Stefano intuitively knew the importance of having a moving musical score behind their shows. It is so evident in their choice of composers they hired. Rod hired Hitchcock’s fave composer Bernard Herrmann who also scored the classic Sci-Fi film, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” plus Van Cleave and Jeff Alexander. I recently even began work on a transcription and arrangement for 12-string solo guitar of the score to the “Twilight Zone” episode; “The Gift” composed by guitar great Laurindo Almeida. If fact, I personally contacted his widow and asked her if she knew where I could get a copy of his arrangement, but to no avail! On the other hand, Leith Stevens and Joseph Stefano hired a wonderful composer and arranger for “The “Outer Limits”, named Dominic Frontiere. Today I still consider him to be one of the best ever. I also have a confession to make here; I have actually incorporated many of their ideas and some of those same variations and jingles from both shows into my own works too… Just don’t tell anybody.
Q: Let’s talk about Dick Dale. We both saw him play live in the sixties and the seventies. Was he a big influence on you and how did you get the moniker, the “Segovia of Surf”?
Nobody comes close to capturing the wet, tribal thunder of the Southern CA beach scene more then the one and only “King of the Surf Guitar”, Dick Dale! I still remember the first time I heard “The Wedge” on KRLA Radio with Wink Martindale! I was blown out! So I immediately ran out to Wallach’s Music City and scored the single on Capitol! Everybody else was standing in a long line trying to get their hands on “She Loves You” by the Beatles, but I scored what I wanted and just walked out with a little smile on my face and headed home for the phonograph. Over the years he has continued to have a positive impact and influence over my music as evident in my brutal 12- string, acoustic version of “The Wedge” which I have dedicated to him. I can still hear those burning heavy gauge strings and insane double picking ricocheting off the walls of the Rendezvous Ballroom as he performed “Death of a Gremmie”! I’m so glad to see that today, in 2015, he is finally getting the recognition we all knew he deserved over 40 years ago!
I have no idea where the label “Segovia of Surf” originated, but I like it! The press tagged me with the moniker back in the 90’s when the editors of one of the glassy surf magazines saw me perform. I was drawn to instrumental rock like a magnet when I was a punk kid because of it’s simplistic melodic lines, transfixed upon tribal rhythms, buried in a tsunami of reverberation. It wasn’t long before I discovered the Ventures, Dick Dale & the Deltones, the Astronauts, the Challengers and all the other garage bands that began to multiply across suburbia here in Southern CA back in the early 60’s. These bands spouted up everywhere, in fact Eddie and the Showman, who were signed by Liberty Records, used to rehearse on the next street over from my folks house in Palos Verdes. It was super cool to be standing in my parents patio, next to burning tiki torches and funky rattan furniture hearing “Squad Car” on the next street over blasting out of a pair of blond Fender Dual Showman amp! Cowabunga!
Q: You also saw the guitarist Wes Montgomery performs at the Light House venue in Hermosa Beach. What was he like on stage and didn’t he give you a music lesson?
The story of my chance meeting with Wes Montgomery and the fact that Wes let me play his Gibson sunburst hollow-body is the stuff of legend and jazz folklore! Considering the fact that I was just 13 years old at the time is pretty amazing. I’ve been told by jazz aficionados that our meeting has now officially been entered into the annals of jazz folklore. I was a young 13-year-old punk kid eager to learn anything I could about the instrument. By that time 1966, I had already outgrown the simplicity of Surf Music and wanted to explore greater technical and melodic challenges so I turned to Wes and jazz.
Then came the infamous meeting with the jazz great at the backdoor of the Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach in August of 1966, just a couple of weeks after his classic album “Tequila” was released by Verne Records. I had dragged a couple of my brothers down to Hermosa to check this guitar monster out. On balmy nights, in the summer months, the club would open the portal door that faced out toward the promenade and you could stand out there and check out the shows for free. Remember, I was just a teenager so we weren’t allowed inside. After a few sets, my brothers got restless and decided to go off and chase all the hot babes along the “Strand”, but I wanted to hear his last set so I hung around. When he took his last break around midnight I wandered around the back of the club in the parking lot and shazam, there sitting on the back door step of the club’s kitchen was Wes smoking a cig and drinking a cup of java. I was star struck, but I had to meet him! I walked up to him shaking like a kid at the dentist office for a root canal and he said to me, ”You’re a guitar player aren’t you kid? And I looked at him in amazement and said, “How did you know?” and he replied; “I saw you listening to the show over at the port hole.” Then I asked him how he did those double octave chords that were his signature sound and he said here let me show you! I about pissed in my pants! So from out behind the kitchen doorway he pulls out his axe and he let me sit in his lap and he showed me the famous technique that made him famous! I was in heaven and in the doghouse with my parents all at the same time! Grounded for two weeks! But I didn’t care! After a few failed tries on my part to learn his chops, I got up and he turned to me and said; “Do yourself a favor kid and stay in school. Forget the music biz.” Well Wes, looks like I didn’t take your advice!
Ironically, the only other guitar lesson I ever had in my entire life was from some guy named Larry Carlton! Surf Music was at its zenith in popularity and garage bands were sprouting up all over suburbia, especially in Palos Verdes were I grew up. My good friend Bob Knight, who played saxophone in the classic surf band “Eddie and the Showman” lived down the street and got his 17 year old friend, a soon to be famous, guitarist named Larry Carlton to come over to my parents house and teach me some music theory. He told me I needed to learn to read, but I said forget that! Teach me how to play “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures!
Q: “Mind Gardens” has all the ingredients to become a classic in the genera of acoustic finger style guitar. Give me some personal insights about the music on your new release.
Track 1) Nierika (2:16)
The album opens with an ethereal evocation, “Nierika”, a doorway between the spiritual world and reality brought on by the ingestion of Peyote cactus, Lophophora williamsii in ceremonial rituals.
Track 2) Theme to the First Annual Bluebelly Lizard Roundup (2:42)
When we were kids growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern Ca in the 50’s, my buddies and I would head out for the open chaparral on a typical summer day to see who could catch the most Bluebelly lizards in the afternoon roundup. Once back home, we would empty our gunny shacks (to our mothers’ discontent) and see who caught the most “Bluebellies”. The kid that caught the most lizards that afternoon would win the prize, a trip to the local candy store and all of his competitors would have to spend their allowance buying him his candy!”
This fun tone poem opens with a lightning fast series of licks that gives the impression of the lizards’ fast movements. The tune quickly moves into a 4/4 traditional bluegrass arrangement laced with blues idioms and the ever-present constant “interruption” of that same descending opening lick. The bridge is a lovely melodic theme that is reminiscent of some of my earlier “Shotgun” 12-string work.
Track 3) Sarabande (2:08)
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) only composed one piece for solo guitar. The “Sarabande” was written in 1960. A sarabande (is a dance in triple meter.) Poulenc has always been one of my favorite composers simply because of his great wit and his subtle sense of humor so evident in most of his works. Transcribing the “Sarabande” to 12- String guitar was a major challenge for me because I had to stay loyal to the original score while at the same time deal with all the technical difficulties of performing the piece under the high string tension of a 12- string guitar. To achieve my goal, I had to move the entire score into the region of the first position (The first 4-6 frets) in my transcription without changing one note of the original score! The result is a transcription of haunting beauty, a solemn work of great depth and expression. A first in the repertoire of 12-string guitar soli.
Track 4) Luna (3:00)
Most artists write songs about their lovers, events and other ephemera in their lives, but I decided to compose a tone poem about my house cat. Her name is “Luna” because she resembles a big, white, dirty, snowball or better yet, she looks like the Moon! The song opens with a series of charming arpeggios that dance along in 4/4 time giving the impression of her feline movements across the floor. One of the themes that is interwoven in the solo is reminiscent of a few measures of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or maybe the rippling effect of moonlight on the surface of the water as implied in Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”. The song dances on to the coda, where I pull out a few old Barney Kessel jazz chords, sustain my position, only to end on a single note that I drop down and bring back to pitch by turning the tuning key counterclockwise and back.
Track 5) Golden Apple Vacancy (3:09)
This is a first. A guitar work made up of only ethereal, semi-atonal chords. There are no individual notes plucked to produce a melodic theme! The entire melody is constructed of a series of powerful chord strums with extended sustain. The purpose of this is to give the listener the impression of infinity and the void of outer space!
Track 6) Dom Perignon (3:42)
Effervescent, bubbly and cosmopolitan! That’s how I would describe this fun and extremely difficult composition to perform on any guitar. The finger picking here has been described as “ferocious & mathematically impossible”! Listen to the final verse at 2:39 and you will see what they mean. I think I play a couple hundred notes in less than 10 plus seconds! Don’t ask me how I do it! Treat yourself to a glass of Dom Perignon!
Track 7) Lavender Ascension ll (3:08)
Take a solo organ work by the Baroque composer D. Buxtehude (1637-1707) and fast-forward to the brilliant soundtracks of the classic Sci/Fi TV show “The Outer Limits”, composed by Dominic Frontiere and you now have my inspiration for this tune. “Lavender Ascension 2” is a journey through the visible light spectrum at sunset, as the intensity of the Sun’s rays move through the kaleidoscope of primary colors in the evening sky. I wrote this tune sometime after my first album, “Toullusions” in 76’. This version has been sitting in the “vault” since 1978. I had to hunt through all the old recordings to locate this gem that was recorded in a small funky studio on Hollywood Blvd. next to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Track 8) Simple Gifts “Live” 4:43
No theme in music expresses the “American Experience” more than this beautiful traditional melody that was derived from the old Shakers Hymn entitled “Simple Gifts”. Recorded “live” in 2013, this arrangement presented many challenges for this guitarist. To perform this piece on a 12-String guitar, I had to devise a method to tune the instrument down one whole step in “performance” from C to Bb. The Only way I could pull this off was to remove the twelfth string and play the song as an eleven-string guitar! Therefore, to accommodate this key change, the bass string of the eleven-string guitar modulates down one whole step in performance with the results producing the sound reminiscent of a country fiddler! I know of no other place in the repertoire of finger style guitar music where a string is tuned down while in “flight”!
Track 9) Huckleberry Meadows Forevermore (4:54)
Up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a magical little spot called “Huckleberry Meadows”. Surrounded by majestic Giant Sequoias, this piece is a classic example of a “pastourelle”, a descriptive tone poem based on Naturalism. “Huckleberry Meadows Forevermore” opens with a series of deep, sustained, meditative chords that border on atonality giving the impression of open space and isolation. The two melodies that follow collide as a series of abstract string visions that reflect the beauty of the meadows as the Sun moves across the zenith of the sky hour by hour and into the shadows of redwood titans that stand guard on the perimeter of the meadow. The piece is slightly reminiscent of a lovely tune by 1960’s balladeer, Tom Rush called “Rockport Sunday”, but “Huckleberry Meadows Forevermore” is more sophisticated in melodic design, guitar technique and thematic structure and is a very difficult piece to perform legato. In the end, this pastourelle returns to the opening sequence of ethereal “Satie”- like chords and fades into eternity.
Track 10) Lady of the Light…“Apparition of Point Vincente Lighthouse” (4:49)
“I remember seeing the apparition as a child. It looked like a woman in a long flowing white silk gown, holding a lantern with an outstretched arm following the lighthouse beam as it went around the tower and down the staircase. “ (Quote from the son of a Coast Guard veteran who was stationed at the Point Vincente Lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA back in 1941.) This and other tales, gave rise to the infamous Point Vicente Lighthouse “Lady of the Light,” Ghost Tale. As the legend goes, she was the spirit of a woman who leaped into the sea when her lover was lost in a shipwreck off the Point. For generations her apparition has been seen moving slowly around the lighthouse, down the staircase to the cliffs below. She really was the wife of a sailor lost at sea and she waits very patiently, making a nightly appearance, longing for his return.
This sonatina is divided into 3 movements. The first stanza takes you to Point Vincente and the grounds of the lighthouse creating a chilling atmosphere of a foggy, wind- swept night with crashing waves reverberating from below. The second movement is the appearance of the “Lady” as she descends the lighthouse tower and slowly moves down to the bottom of the cliffs, hovering over the jagged rocks of the tide pools below. One of my fave records of all time is “Notorious Byrd Brothers” by the Byrds. I loved Gary Usher’s production so I tried to encapsulate some of his production ideas in this stanza. Overlapping phasers, delay and other studio effects to produce a quasi-moto psychedelic effect. In the final movement, one senses the resolution of her loneliness with the return of her lost love as they ascend into eternity. Here I interpolated a theme that was written by Bernard Herrman and taken from his beautiful score to the classic film, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1941) which by the way was partially filmed in Abalone Cove, near Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 1940. If you listen to my guitar solo here it has a “Byrdsque” feel and twang to the theme and that’s exactly what I wanted to express in this emotional coda.
This was my first effort at writing an ensemble acoustic guitar work with multiple voices. The major voice moving throughout the piece is a solo 12-string guitar part, but then I overdubbed a series of melodic lines on top of that composed completely out of harmonics! The harmonics give the impression of a floating, crystalline beam of light guiding us along through this ghostly tone poem. Jorgen Ingmann used this technique very effectively when he recorded his instrumental hit; “Apache” back in June of 1960!
Track 11) Melting Stars…Breathing Heavens 1:42
The third and shortest rendition of this solo that was recently discovered in the “vault”. This “miniature” 6-string composition has a touch of Barney Kessel and Hector Villa Lobos interwoven together, giving one the impression of how one might feel as you look up into the “cosmorama” on a clear midnight sky in awe and wonder.
Track #12) The Wedge 3:03
Written by the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Dick Dale in 1963. “The Wedge” is a classic example of the high energy, wet surf sounds of the early Sixties. The song takes most of its thematic design from traditional Spanish and Gypsy folk music idioms. My version is a supersonic fingerpicking “tour de force” of 12-string guitar that almost breaks the sound barrier! We brought in 71 year old, “Tiki Timmy” one of the original percussionists who performed on many of the soundtracks to those campy 1960’s “Beach Blanket Bingo” movies from American International, to play the beach bongos on this one and boy can he still play!
Track 13) Dialogue with an English Rill (Duet for Alto Flute & Guitar in C Major) 3:13
This was my first attempt at composing a piece of music for two different instruments: the Alto Flute and the Spanish Guitar. The result is a charming little romantic “pastourelle” dedicated to my soul mate, the lovely ballerina of my life, Sally. The story unfolds in the Welsh countryside in Great Britain where Sally’s grandmother lived in the rural village of Llanfechain. On a perfect Summer day she and her sister would frolic and play in the open meadows of English Birch and Oak trees, among the flowers and high grasses of the meadow and often spend hours just sitting and daydreaming near the edge of the rill. (An ole’ medieval term for a stream or a brook)
Q: Talk to me about your upcoming early spring 2016 tour dates where you are involved in a John Fahey-themed package with two other former Takoma Records guitarists who you will be sharing the performance bill with.
Fahey was a strange cat. I first met John in early 1972 after I returned to Hollywood from the “Byrd’s” tour. I must have walked through 10 piles of turtle poop before I actually talked to him. We had submitted a demo to him through my first producer Chris Darrow of Kaleidoscope/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame and handed it over to “Mr. Bluegrass” himself, John Delgatto who was a close friend of the “Byrd’s” fabulous guitarist, Clarence White. If fact, if it wasn’t for the exposure and personal endorsements I got from the Byrds and the quality time I spent with Clarence on the road, I really don’t believe that John Delgatto would have introduced me to Fahey and I probably would have never been signed! People ask me all the time what it was like to jam with Clarence (Yes I jammed with Clarence White!) and I just shrug my shoulders and say, “Awesome with a smirk, little smile!” I still have his guitar pick he gave me 40+ years ago and keep it in my guitar case as a good luck charm and I’m not even the slightest bit superstitious! I am totally indebted to Clarence White, a master guitarist, who should have been elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along time ago!
But that was over 40+ years ago, today we are proud to announce that three of the original members of the legendary “Takoma 7” will be touring together for the first time ever starting this coming March 2016! Billed as the “Takoma Records Guitar Masters & Legends Tour”, these shows are sponsored by Fretboard Journal and Acoustic Guitar Magazine and will feature your’s truly and two of my ole label mates, finger style guitar monsters: Peter Lang and Rick Ruskin. It will be a fabulous performance and all three of us are very excited to honor John Fahey and keep the vibe going! Remember we were hand picked by John Fahey and signed to his now cult label along with Leo Kottke ,Robbie Basho, Fred Gerlach and Michael Gulezian, along time ago in a galaxy far, far, far away. In retrospect, I think John would be stoked that we are continuing the legacy that he intitiated back in Berkeley in 1959’ with “Blind Joe Death”!
Q: You’ve recently recorded a couple of singles. What are they and detail the action.
I’m trying to re-invent myself these days by experimenting with new elements in tonality, meter, tunings, space, color and combinations of instruments and arrangements. I have commissioned a young, brilliant string arranger, Tim Jensen to write an orchestral score to a tone poem I wrote entitled; “Return to Xel-Ha”. The premiere performance is scheduled for June, 2016. On my newest single tracks, I dabble into “Space Age” folklore with,“Good Luck Mr. Grosky!” On this one, I brought in this cool ole’ cat, Don Georgeson (who used to sit in with Stan Getz) to lay down a funky saxophone track over my brutal 12-string guitar romp! Sounds nuts, but it’s so totally “too-loose”! My other new single is called “Plaza Steve’s Shuffle”. We recorded a Benny Goodman 1940’s bebop clarinet solo on top of a reverb, drenched Ventures “Mosrite Surf Guitar! Pretty crazy stuff, but tons of fun! Both are scheduled for release on January 1st 2016 on I-Tunes only! Life is good!
Harvey Kubernik has been a music journalist for over 44 years and is the author of 8 books.
During 2009, Sterling/Barnes & Noble published Kubernik’s Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon.
In 2014, Kubernik’s It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: The Beatles Invade America and Hollywood was published by Otherworld Cottage Industries.
During 2014, Harvey’s Kubernik’s Turn Up the Radio! Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles 1956–1972 was published by Santa Monica Press.
In September 2014, Palazzo Editions packaged Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, a coffee—table—size volume written by Kubernik, currently published in six foreign languages. BackBeat/Hal Leonard Books in the United State and Omnibus in the U.K.
Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik wrote the text for photographer Guy Webster’s first book for Insight Editions published in November 2014. Big Shots: Rock Legends & Hollywood Icons: Through the Lens of Guy Webster. Introduction by Brian Wilson).
In November 2015, Back/Beat/Hal Leonard published Harvey’s book on Neil Young, Heart of Gold, also available in various foreign languages.