Thursday, May 11, 2006

Luke Jordan: Devendra Banhart of the 1920s!

Discovery Time!

I checked out a CD from the FW library which i imagined to be gold based on its name alone (The Songster Tradition). Little did I know what gold mine ears would dig deep in the quarry of aural awesomeness. This bio courtesy of the internet:

Full name: Luke Jordan

Born: Jan. 28, 1892, Appomattox County or Campbell County, VA
Died: June 25, 1952, Lynchburg, VA

Instrument: Guitar (and vocals)

Biographical Sketch

The blues of Luke Jordan "had a beautiful sweetness and a kind of wry wistfulness that made them unforgettable," according to Samuel Charters in Sweet as the Showers of Rain. Research by Bruce Bastin tells us that Luke Jordan was an important figure in and around Lynchburg, Virginia, highly regarded for his skillful, cleanly-picked guitar style. Although very few African American blues musicians from this region managed to record, Jordan was discovered by Victor Records around the age of 35. He traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, in August 1927, to record several sides for that label. His records sold well enough that Victor decided to bring him to New York for two further sessions in November of 1929. Luckily, 10 of the 12 tracks that he recorded during his brief career are available today on Document CDs DOCD 5045 and DOCD 5574. His most memorable recordings, "Church Bells Blues," "Pick Poor Robin Clean," and "Cocaine Blues," feature not only some nice guitar work indicative of the East Coast style but also Jordan's intriguing tenor voice marked by a certain ethereal, delicate quality. Most recently, the James River Blues Society has recognized Luke Jordan as a important figure in Virginia blues by erecting a historical marker in his honor in downtown Lynchburg.

What this sketch fails to mention (aside from that its a sweet bio and that probably i need to read any book that is named "Sweet as the Showers of Rain") is the uncanny resemblance to our beloved Neo-Freak-Blues-Fake Homeless-Folk, Icon and friend Devendra Banhart! Jordan's "skillful, cleanly-picked guitar style" is not unsimilar to many a Devendra song, and even more amazing is that his "intriguing tenor voice marked by a certain ethereal, delicate quality" is so similar to DB's in phrasing, style and tone (although Jordan's is a little more "normal" that DB's)! In addition the sratchiness of the recording brings to mind Dev's early fourtrack recordings. It's really a have to hear to believe! Its awesome! Either Devendra is Luke Jordan Reincarnated, or his grandson, or he maybe ought to be paying some royalties or at least some word of mouth.

The only sad part of this tale is that Jordan was seldom recorded and there does not have many listens for us to hear (even that photograph is the only know one of him in existence). But we do have a few snippets of tender jubliee! Download just a few from below of the "beautiful sweetness and...wry wistfulness..."

Taste and See that the Lord is good:

The one that too me is the most similar - Church Bell Blues

Cocaine Blues

Won't You Be Kind

Hope that those links work. If not well, then. Just contact me or something.

DB RULES! LJ RULES! (Not Livejournal or LBJ, those suck)


At 5/11/2006 1:27 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

also apparently sometime his style of East Coast Blues is called "piedmont." which is good news.

At 5/15/2006 10:40 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

well I thought someone one would care about this (at least you Jake! WTF?), but it appears this is only amazing and awesome to me. So whatever, I will continue to listen to the sweet sweet water that is luke jordan. in your faces.

At 5/15/2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

yes, three cheers for piedmont! sorry paul, i missed this until just now. i've been too busy writing damn theology papers to even think to check and see if you had posted about new musical gems. have no fear, in a few days i will only care about sweet finds. also, i got some more veloso and it turns out that he really is the god of sweet sounds that everyone said he was and i secretly wasn't sure about...

At 5/15/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

listen paul, good job times 1 million. i'm going to listen to these three songs all day.

At 5/22/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Ryan 1 said...

sorry for big-ass tardies. something about finals and thesis proposals happened to me the last couple weeks. tasty find bra. i can't believe your fines. also, ltj rules. good budds.


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