I went to The Stone last night to see legendary guitarist Eugene Chadbourne playing with equally legendary drummer Jimmy Carl Black. It was a wonderfully enjoyable concert. For those not “in the know,” JCB was the original drummer in Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. If you were one of the many who could not stop listening to We’re Only In It For The Money when they first discovered it, you know him from his line: “I’m Jimmy Carl Black and I’m the Indian of the group.”
And then there’s Chadbourne, the quintessential North American free improvising guitarist. He took Derek Bailey’s guitar explorations to a whole new level. I first saw (and played with) him over 30 years ago in Toronto (he was living in Canada as a US draft-dodger). He was the first person I ever saw play a prepared guitar, and he even took that a step further by adding kalimba tines on to the body of a few of his many guitars. So then President Carter granted immunity to all the draft-dodgers and Chadbourne came back to the US. To make a long story short, he has been integrating Country Music into his improvisations over the last many years (coined the term “Shockabilly”), and, judging from last night, has been having a grand ol’ time doing so.
Last night’s concert was all songs; some blues, some Texas ballads, and even some Zappa covers (an amazing version of Mom and Dad from …In It For The Money). EC & JCB have a great rapport; singing together, talking to each other during the songs. When EC would start getting “out” JCB would be right there with him, and again, with him when they seamlessly returned to the tune. I’m always happy when I hear music that simultaneously refers to and defies styles, but still knows exactly where it is at any given point.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth at least a million:
Eugene Chadbourne (but no Jimmy Carl Black):