Houston, we have a problem… We’re sweating like pigs in your fair city! …OK, OK, it’s not nearly so bad (yet), though the humidity definitely hangs in the air most of the time. But the sky’s blue, the city’s BIG, the food’s good. Things are a’building everywhere; other things are falling apart everywhere, and usually right next to each other. In places it’s hard to tell whether what I’m looking at is renaissance or apocalypse. But if apocalypse, it’s a pretty friendly one.
Just a quick link to honor our new home:
Susan Alcorn (b.1953 — US)
Susan plays a quintessential Texas instrument, the pedal steel guitar. She spent a lot of years paying her dues and perfecting her technique in Country bands, but some part of her always hankered after things more adventurous. I’ll let her pick up the story:
I was expected to know the entire song book of American country music from the mid-1940s onward, and I was expected to know the kick-offs and rides for all these songs by heart – from the old Bob Wills songs to Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, and countless others. Learning this music note for note was a discipline that I am grateful for. However, at the same time I was attracted to other music which appealed to my deeper sensibilities — John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and 20th Century classical composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Kzyrztof Penderecki, and Astor Piazzolla, and I sought out other musicians who shared similar sensibilities. By the late 1980s, after performing straight-ahead jazz for ten years, I took the advice of Paul Bley, with whom I had been corresponding. He told me to throw away the Real Book and play out of tune. I began to develop my own approach to the instrument and to music in general – one that would incorporate the music and the sounds – all music and whatever sound – that affected me. I began incorporating jazz, minimalism, Gamelan Music, Indian Classical music, the folk music of Latin America, birds, wind, clouds, colors, emotions – whatever struck me on a visceral level.
Susan’s pretty sneaky about secreting her MP3s away on her site. I’ll give you this hint: In the pages “biography”, “performance notes” and “links”, in the text of each you’ll find a single highlighted letter, that will lead you to one of three different recordings. Each of the recordings are radically different stylistically, but made kissin’ cousins by way of the glorious sound of the steel, and Susan’s own sensibilities.
And if that seems too hard, or you just want to hear even more tracks, you can take the easy way out and visit her Myspace page.