Radio Dial audiences love Gillian Welch’s ELVIS PRESLEY BLUES, a feature for Rebecca Campbell. Burke Carroll shares the spotlight on resonator slide guitar. Recorded by Martin Worthy, who also plays drums/guitar/banjo.
Porkbelly Futures recorded the marvellous Martin Worthy song “Hemingway” featuring my harmonica and Colin Linden’s slide guitar.
Way Past Midnight:
I was having trouble putting down a nice solo for this Paul Quarrington blues, until I was handed a guitar from a case in the corner. It was a vintage Fender Telecaster belonging to Lorraine Segato of Parachute Club. I loved it instantly and this solo was the immediate result.
The Triumphal Scene in Verdi’s Aida is one of the most spectacular in opera, featuring chorus and plenty of brass. I’m in the thick of things here, with Claudio Abbado conducting the La Scala Orchestra in Milan. Just prior to my arrival in Milan the company had returned from performing Aida at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, so they needed no rehearsal for the Aida choruses or, in fact, any of the material we recorded that day. For reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, my first trumpet music could not be located until 12 minutes before the sessions were scheduled to begin, though everyone else had had their music for weeks (!). Fortunately for me, a buzz in a cable meant the start of the session was delayed for 30 minutes, which gave me just enough time to prepare large chunks of Aida and Don Carlo.
There is no more majestic sound in music than massed choir, brass and organ, which is why the combination is heard so often at Royal weddings, coronations and so on. This clip features Canadian Brass, The Elmer Iseler Singers and organist John Tuttle in a stunning arrangement by my friend Peter Tiefenbach. The whole Canadian Brass album, People of Faith (available on Opening Day Recordings) is wonderful.
Sad Old Love Affair:
The guitar I used on Sad Old Love Affair is not mine, but a very special Gibson 335 belonging to producer David Gray who used to work a lot with my hero Paul Butterfield. Dave owned many instruments, but Paul would always insist that Dave play this particular one. Because of that connection to Butterfield I thought I’d channel one of his famous guitarists, Elvin Bishop, on my solo. The organ interlude is by Richard Bell, and I also love Chas Elliott’s bass lines.
End of the World:
Martin Worthy’s achingly beautiful song The End of the World had me digging deep for an approach. Instead of thinking of my harmonica playing I imagined slow dancing with my wife and holding her tight. I did one take and the producer said “That’s it, you’re done.” If only I could do that all the time!!
I was inspired to write March Storm after reading (in Wayne Johnston’s 1998 novel The Colony of Unrequited Dreams) about Newfoundland’s legendary tragedy at sea. Fishermen who’d gone lightly dressed onto the ice on a sunny day in early spring 1914 to harvest seals were trapped for 3 days in a sudden and horrific ice storm. Most died, and were found as frozen statues, often in life-like positions. The stories were heartbreaking, and included father/son teams who had perished standing in place with their arms around each other, sheeted in ice. After having been chopped free of the ice floes the bodies were stacked up on the docks back in St. John’s for family members to identify, by the clothing. In Porkbelly Futures’ recording of the song, Paul sings as captain of the “rescue” ship, Marty is one of the frozen sailors and Rebecca Campbell is the wife/mother back home. I play mandolin as well as a tin whistle that, coincidentally, I’d purchased in St. John’s many years before. This clip, and others on this page, is available on iTunes.