Creativity Theory I: Stuart Brown and Play

I’m going to digress from my series on “Meetings With Remarkable People” even though I have not yet written about some of those who most influenced me. Portraying them is an intimidating task, so I thought I’d approach them through a quality that they had in common and in...

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John Fahey III: The Great San Francisco Concert Party

This is my third post about the American finger-style guitarist John Fahey, one of a series I’ve titled Meetings With Remarkable People. After our show at the Great American Music Hall, Fahey was transcendentally drunk, but he managed to make it to the party at my brother Nick’s place...

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John Fahey II: A Man on the Edge

Looking at YouTube videos of John Fahey in concert recently, I recalled vividly the technique I once so admired. Plant your right hand little finger on the pick-guard; pick away with the thumb and two fingers, get that alternating bass thumping beneath your treble melodies. His left hand had little agility,...

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John Fahey: Meetings with Blind Joe Death

Every young person needs a madman, a Loki, a Coyote, a misfit to look up to, and John Fahey filled that role for me. Long before I met him and performed with him, I knew from his writings and recordings that he must be a remarkable person. But he was one...

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Moondog IV: Life Turns

After seven years of studying classical guitar, I was moving toward what eventually became known as “American fingerstyle.” The intricate solos I wrote incorporated elements of whatever I’d listened to and loved: English and American folk, pop, jazz, blues, ragtime, Indian music, and Western classical and Baroque. I bought a...

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Moondog III: Harps and Guitars

I had been making instruments, sort of, since high school. I fell in love with the classical guitar thanks to Andres Segovia and not long after fell in love with luthiery thanks to Irving Sloane’s marvelous book Classical Guitar Construction. I’m not sure when Glenn Johnson caught the romance...

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Living with Moondog

This is my second post about Moondog, another study of one of the remarkable people I’ve known. His real name, we learned, was Louis Hardin. He had grown up in Kansas, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Tennessee, then spent three decades in Manhattan. He had a curious, double reputation. On one...

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Moondog

This is the sixth portrait in my series on “Meetings With Remarkable People” — ruminations on exceptional individuals I have known and explorations of just what qualities make a person “remarkable.” Moondog was certainly a unique man, one whose unusual circumstances resulted equally from fate, predisposition, and personal choice. My...

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Shaking Hands With Martin Luther King II

The summer of 1965  — when I shook hands with Martin Luther King — was perhaps the most blissful period of my life.  After Chicago, the trees of the North Shore liberated me. There were long narrow beaches beneath towering lakeside bluffs, the chilly water of Lake Michigan to...

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Shaking Hands With Dr. Martin Luther King

My last two posts in this series about “Meetings With Remarkable People” dealt with the inexplicable power of some performers to enthrall a roomful of people and hold them in a selfless state of merger with the music. I differentiated between that magic and the “charisma” we often ascribe...

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