Tuesday, January 31, 2006

beta remembers blind joe death

So here is my long essay about my brief week with John Fahey back in the summer of 1999 . This encounter is something that has lingered with me for many years, as it's not everyday you meet an idol and legend close-up, and seeing the hairline fissures on the face of God is a daunting though reassuring experience indeed. My time spent with Fahey was nowhere near the level of say...Glenn Jones's epiphany of working with the man, but it was still quite eye-opening for this fresh collegiate.

In my mind, little stray details have accrued, many of them enumerated in the article, and yet when I went to my journal entries for this period of time, there is a solid week with no entries. I pried one of his fingerpaintings from my journal pages but was horrified to find that I had written next to nothing about my experience. Nothing about my canvassing with Fahey, nothing about having a vegetarian BBQ with No-Neck Blues Band, nothing about the four concerts Fahey put on, nothing about the man playing my guitar at an in-store, nothing about the Captain Beefheart release party, nothing. There was however, some venting about the fuckfaces that I used to make noise with, as they showed their two-faces that manic weekend.

Another story that I didn't mention was how much Revenant hated No-Neck. One Saturday morning, the morning after their set opening for Fahey, I got a phone call from them, saying that they were utterly embarrassed by the band and their shitty pretentiousness and ramshackle wonkiness and really wanted nothing to do with them. There was talk of scrapping the entire Sticks and Stones project out of hand.

Driving around with Fahey that morning, we got to talking about the whole debacle, about how the band had been evasive about the tapes they made with Jerry Yester. So while we're at some South Austin shopping center, flipping through used records, Fahey asks me for a quarter. "I'm gonna put a stop to this whole nonsense right now," he says, marching out to a payphone. "I used to deal with bands like this back during the Takoma days, and you just have to play hardball with them." He then proceeds to dial up the house where NNCK has been staying, and while I know that the band is currently unloading gear elsewhere, he gets a befuddled person on the horn and delivers an ultimatum: "They either get the tapes to me in a half-hour or the whole deal is off." Nevermind that he has no idea where he is or who he's even talking to.

Cooler heads somehow prevail, and the Beefheart release party goes off without a hitch, NNCK getting reeeeal lost with a swordfish and stand-up bass overhead dual, and SASMBMBBWWNHM ultimately sees daylight some six months after Fahey's passing from this world.

The Man handling my old guitar.

For your listening pleasure, some tunes from the upcoming John Fahey tribute:

Fruit Bats - Death of the Clayton Peacock
Calexico - Dance of Death
Cul de Sac - Portland Cement Factory


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