Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monster of Folk: Bert Jansch

I'M not sure i can think of another musician who's been powerfully influential on both johnny marr of the smiths and zeppelin-era jimmy page. bert jansch, the british folk guitarist born on this day in 1943, has not only put his stamp on heavy metal and early indie rock -- not to mention his own generation of folk rockers -- he's a hero to freak-folk types like devendra banhart.

jansch was born in glasgow, scotland and came of age with the british folk-rock movement of the 60s: he helped found the band pentangle, like fairport convention dedicated to digging into the origins of british and celtic music and myth. his solo stuff is wonderful, if uneven, veering between acoustic and electric: it's best heard on the 2-cd compilation "the dazzling stranger." i love the way he bends the hell out of his notes and drones and tolls.

here is an old video clip of the solo acoustic "black waterslide," which zeppelin basically stole.

my favorite jansch, oddly, is his '06 record, "the black swan." not only are the songs strong from first to last, it includes delicious contributions from banhart and beth orton. mostly, this is a dark record that i play incessantly in the winter, alongside john fahey and bach's cello suites. "the black swan" was graham coxon of blur's record of the year in '06.

here are two songs from that record, with, alas, no video. the second, "when the sun comes up," has beth orton on lead vocals.

Jansch cancelled a US tour this summer because of illness, posting this on his website:
"Bert is very sorry to be missing the tour, and apologises to all the fans who were hoping to see him. He is looking forward to rescheduling as soon as possible.

here we are looking forward to the return of this monster of folk. we'll toast a small glass of single-male scotch to you this evening.

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