The Doc'n'Roll film festival is one of the highlights of the year; it allows you to see the inner workings of the music industry by exploring the lives and backgrounds of a hugely diverse range of musicians from just as diverse range of perspectives.
Last year I came away from the Ramones documentary feeling simultaneously sad and exhilarated by their story. I went with Gina and she had met Dee Dee back in the day and said he was as sweetheart. he was very perceptive, although obviously off his face on some substance or other. Personally, I fell in love with Joey, who seemed slightly astonished by their success right up till the end. He demonstrated that it is possible to be a successful musician and remain genuine, in spite of the pressures to embrace a false persona and perform it to the cameras.
Yesterday I went to a showing of Rumble, a documentary that traces the origins of Native American heredity in US rock and folk music genres. Link Wray's music introduced the film and we saw the shack where he was brought up, and heard archive interview recordings where he described the spontaneous creation of his musical style. There were a few talking heads affirming Wray's influence, but mostly it was left to the music to speak. As the film unfolded, we met many different musicians: Robbie Robertson, Rhiannon Gittens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and more), a group of women who presence Native American singing styles, Buffy Sainte Marie, Jimi Hendrix. As each person spoke, their tribe appeared on the screen beside their name.
When the English invaders flooded the continent, they sent the male members of the tribes away- to Africa, Haiti (and probably massacred as many as they sent away). As they 'imported' slaves from Africa, relationships formed between these (mostly) men and the Native American women, and many mixed heritage people in the USA can trace their lineage back to those days.
The significance of the Dockery Plantation to music is explored: Charley Patton worked there for a while and honed his guitar playing skills in the musical catalyst of the Dockery environment. Charley Patton was a showman and gave it everything he'd got as a performer (interesting stuff about the Dockery Plantation here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dockery_Plantation).
Somewhere further down the line, Native Americans began to wonder if they needed to hide their origins. During the 1960s, musicians felt comfortable enough to 'come out'. Taj Mahal's guitarist, Jesse Ed Davis, was around at this time and there's some great footage of him playing. Wow. What an incredible man.
I can't tell you much more except to go to see it if you possible can. It's an amazing documentary and the festival is on tour at the moment. Details here: http://www.docnrollfestival.com
I'd been feeling under the weather and not sure if I was up to doing the gig at Jamboree, but after seeing the documentary I suddenly remembered why I'm doing all this. The tubes were completely f*cked but I marched down to Embankment and met my Bruvs at the venue. There was not time for a sound check, alas, but I enjoyed playing even if the sudden influx of 50 people halfway through put me off my stride. Note to self, next time play The Sea and get them to sing it! For no real reason I was giving that song a rest last night, and you're always wiser after the event but it would have been a good thing to do.
Balothizer, the headline band, are a Cretan electric folk rock band who play traditional songs in a rock style. Their bass player plays a Rickenbacker and the bass lines sound almost punky. He also sings the bulk of the vocals, which soar over the energetic and busy music with a wistful and melancholy feel. Instead of the guitar they have a Cretan lute, a Lauto. All three musicians are ace instrumentalists and the crowd loved them. Hats off to Neil Jones for organising yet another successful event and I'm looking forward to reading the zine he gave to me, Fishin' Rod Reel Handle.
Jamboree is such a unique venue. It reminds me of Time Bandits and I have never seen a boring band there. They have a big money problem and there is a fundraiser benefit to help them out at Jujus just off Brick Lane on Saturday 18th November between 4 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.
I have a gig at the Finborough Arms with The Flatmates that night but will try to get there beforehand. More details here: www.jamboreevenue.co.uk