Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Morning Shorts: Jackson C. Frank

I haven't been posting much lately, and there's plenty to catch up with.

To start, both Salon and Pitchfork have been pushing Nick Drake's cover of Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run the Game", and both spin the tale, briefly, of Frank's unbelievably unlucky life (Pitchfork: "Frank was badly burned in a deadly school fire at 11, lost his first son to Cystic Fibrosis, received a diagnosis of paranoid-schizophrenia, lived in various institutions and on the streets, was randomly shot and blinded in his left eye, and, finally, died of cardiac arrest at age 56, penniless and still mostly unknown.")

The tale, with much more detail and tragic, heartbreaking photos of Frank very late in life, is told in fine liners in the essential compilation of most everything he ever recorded, Blues Run the Game, on Castle records. In addition to the only album released during his lifetime, which contains "Blues" and was produced very cleanly by Paul Simon, are recordings from the last years of his life. Essentially rescued from the streets by a fan, Frank took to the guitar after years of drifting, and the songs that came out sound like they're from an entirely different man. Although they're all basically in the same key and use similar arpeggios, they knock me down every time.

The essential article to read, after the liner notes, is from Folk Roots magazine, "Game, Set, Blues", which tells the tale of folk music fan Jim Abbott and his efforts to track down and help Frank.
Make sure to check out the Daytrotter sessions by iff favorites Richard Swift and Alela Diane. Kirstiecat was on hand at Swift's Chicago show to capture some photos for us.

I've been missing some shows lately I shouldn't. Daniel Johnston played Baltimore the other night. Brooklyn Vegan reports on a couple of Johnston shows, and a free Roky Erickson/Alejandro Escovedo show, in NYC.

Cognitive dissonance: the Merge blog has pics and setlist from a show on the unstoppable M. Ward/Norah Jones express.

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