Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jeff Hull: Titanic Transmissions

Got to hang out with Jeff Hull this winter as it turned into spring. He was preparing for a show at the Hall Space and we sort of took the piece I wrote a couple of years ago as a starting point, broke down the staging and started again, talking about what his art was, and iterating through til we came up with this piece. April always brings Titanic memories. Now, Titanic Transmissions as well. Let's get a buzz on! - Jack Vaughan

Jeff Hull's Titanic Transmissions is on display at the HallSpace, 950 Dorchester Avenue Dorchester, MA 02125, weekends through May 24! Other times by appointment.

Titanic Transmissions

Walk the streets and hear the children singing - The Ship Went Down - A folk song – it will stick. Tells a story like the blues. The picture of the ship - its radio transmitting. It was always there. Titanic. DitDitDaDitDit dashes - images from Jeff Hull in Titanic Transmissions.

Hull who bicycling down city alley hears the same sirens as the Edison man but to whom the pictures adhere and he goes back to the loft with vision - an itchin’ in the aorta. Drawings and paintings. He just saw posters, sequenced, faded precisely on a wall, like old electric bulbs. He saw them – in Boston - and now, aloft. Rialto! Bijou! Telegraph!

* * *

Where’s it come from? Across Hull’s studio hanging on a sagging clothesline: Drawings on clothespins .. Fluttering flaglets in space… Like birds on a wire, if you read them, playing a song. He gets up in the morning and holds on to that Plow. The Plow of Paint, Color and Forms that detonate, like the ancient movie marquees.

Tossed and driven by a sea storm of life raging – ink on paper - first think in the morning and often they call out the shape of something to pursue. Sometimes Hull will track a recognizable figure in oil. A hand. The Titanic. A figure you can verbally grasp swims in an unutterable image pool. Might be looking for you.

* * *

The paintings now have bursts, areas that pop and expand - Hull admits to whirling impressions these days that put the literal against the mysterious. In this exhibit, he acknowledges, the shapes, many of them, are cleaner, broader. Some can resonate from the surface in startling manner – the viewer can visit these portions and rest. But the cool press of filmic objects is flipping at the edges too. Jeff Hull’s paintings cut through and explode, exotic, rich and fluid.

And they swing like the American music. The ordinary world is here, calling you too by name. Seen in a universe of visual indications. Cells of modern mind float on canvas, one painting entering another.

* * *

We are all in the swim – and there is no wall, no usher’s partition. There is a sweet relief in knowing a way in the cloud to see somehow. Rialto: Bijou: Telegraph: Keep your hands on the Plow To Remember! It’s the night. Hull’s new paintings are ready for your read-through.

I did a longer 'Monograph: Titanic Transmissions' posted too. 
A YouTube video hopefully is in the works. The reception yesterday was just great and HallSpace is wonderful to make this all happen. 

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Music That Matters To Zim

This site hasn’t written about Bob Dylan for awhile. Here goes. He has a new mix out, 2008. His fave raves. Artists Choice: Bob Dylan – Music That Matters To Him.

Came into some Starbucks, which is another story, but I said why buy a lot of coffee? So I go in there and buy a CD off the rack. From the Artists Choice series. Bob Dylan – Music That Matters To Zim.

And unlike Theme Time Radio show, this has no theme. ‘Stuff I am listening to when you asked what I was listening to’ he explains as the selection criteria. Pee Wee Crayton, The Stanley Brothers, Sol Hoopi and others. Numbers, really. Good discs. Slick records. Unevenly: Life Like. ‘There are a lot of different ways a record can get under your skin,’ he tells Starbucks Entertainment.

Anyway it was the best thing I ever got at a Starbucks. There is Pee Wee Clayton guitar intro the spitting image of Revolution by John Lennon and the Beatles. The sad cafĂ© of Gus Visier French gypsy accordionist doing Flambee Montalbanaise (Valse). The jazzy figure of Frank Loesser’s I Hear Music as done by lost angel and angel band Billie Holiday and Her Orchestra. And more.

Among the blues numbers ..

Pretty Baby by Junior Parker. This I know from Kim Wilson’s version on the Ron Levy Wild Kingdom record. But hadn’t heard Junior’s. Perfect marching harp and drums Gut gone guitar. Sun sound. Slashing guitarist Pat Hare plays on this and Dylan pays tribute to Hare’s style an, in his notes, which are key to this set, touches on Hare’s tragic trajectory. This guy Pat Hare is not known too widely. A lot of guys can count many Muddy Waters band guitarists and miss Pat. But he was there. I heard about him before I sought to find if I heard him Sunnyland Slim talked about him...why he disappeared .. was life for murder. Behind any of his songs now is that story.

Little by Little by Junior Wells on the Profile Label. I first heard this minor key number on Sam Charters’ produced Vanguard Wells’ record which included Buddy Guy. [Nope: Second Thought: The Rolling Stones did ‘this’ on their first U.S. LP I heard that first.] This is the A No. 1 original version, and it includes (according to Blues Records) Earl Hooker and Lafayette Leake. Menace, trailing her all night, in a car, scared of what, you are looking for. Politically incorrect school of blues but something we know. Junior was really great, but flawed. Ultimately he was an intrinsic member of a fantastic group of Blues masons. As Dylan writes: “[Junior Wells] scaled the heights when he was full out himself, but slid down hill when he tried to become James Brown … it’s the kind of Chicago blues that is the result of a bunch of guys in a small hot room playing together at the same time.” My opinion too. Junior set about to be the precursor of James Brown after the fact to some disadvantage. But with a band of brothers, incredible.

Charley Jordan’s Keep it Clean I know from R.Crumb’s update version. As Dylan points out, as John Hurt did in a way in his day, the songster is part of the tradition. Outside the realm of blues really. Hurt saw himself as a songster, and thought himself a cut below the bluesman, who, I don’t know, had maybe more of the shaman magic. Charley Jordan’s thing has enough double entendre to be the blues!

The notes are great. Dylan like all music buffs remembers the events around a record. He found it at a Salvation Army. He had a scratchy copy of The Fields Have Turned Brown by the Stanley Brothers, and he misses the scratchy copy now cause of lost of ghost-like whine. He loved going up to John Hammond’s office because he’d give him all these Billie Holiday records. More.

A long time ago we knew Dylan took in everything. His radio show and disk samplers [just discovered there is a two-disk set of Radio Theme Time favorites] display this. I don’t want to start a controversy on the order of the Yazuka thing – but I think this may be a Team Dylan effort. By that I mean: Eddie Gorodetsky was the producer of the radio show, and I think I see his mark here.

Eddie had the one of the greatest radio shows of all time in Boston in the 70s. A college radio blues show on WERS the Emerson College station. Boy I used to love to hear him play Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers and so on late on a Friday afternoon. But he had a real penchant for a type of novel jump blues that shows up in Dylan’s artist’s choices. I can imagine coming in with a bunch of disks for Dylan to select through – he is also probably a font of anecdotes on the artists – I imagine him and Dylan riffing in order to come up with Dylan’s actual commentary between numbers on the radio or in the liner notes on the CDs. Eddie could be terrifically funny. He went on to write for Saturday Night Live and now produces the TV show Two-And-A-Half Men. [Way back Eddie also worked at the cooker at the old Rainbow Rib Room on far Newbury St. – the late night place to go after the bars closed.]

I got my stories on these records too. In the last couple of years we’ve seen both Ray Price and Wanda Jackson. Both times with the thought; This stuff is disappearing. {Now getting the notion that I am disappearing too.} Jim Haas turned me on to the Ethiopiques like Getachew Kassa who does a fast Tezeta which I transliterate as Melancholy Sadness – I purused his collection while he and the family went to watch Bobby Bonds break Mark McQuires single-season home run record a couple of miles away. Junior Wells: Well that was our first date, me and Cecelia at Jonathan Swifts in Harvard Square.

Out There

Jeff Hull Titanic Transmissions - Hall Space, April 19 - May 24, 0pening reception Saturday, April 19 3-6pm

Ray Davies at Orpheum Theatre - Boston Herald American Record Traveller

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