Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hop in the ol' way-back machine

I was aware of Frank Fairfield, having heard him on NPR and such, before I got a chance to see him at the New LA Folk Fest's night of murder ballads. And I love murder ballads. I love songs where people die. I don't know why that is. I have started writing songs based on short stories, and the three I've picked so far are Lovecraft's "The Haunter in the Dark" (diary of a dead man about accidentally summoning a horrible creature from space), O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" (which has the murder of a family and ends with the legendary line: "she would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life"), and Jackson's "The Lottery" (which I'd hate to spoil the ending of if you haven't read it).

But anyway. Frank Fairfield. The man walks out with a violin, guitar, and banjo, and just plays with absolute mastery of each instrument, performing the murder ballads in his repertoire of traditional folk songs with skill and style. And everything about him, his hair, clothes, manner of speaking, everything suggests that he's not a 20-something from LA, but grew up in the country in 1923. And it doesn't feel like artifice. He's so genuine that I suspect he may be a time traveler. I'm kind of obsessed.

Here's another video, just because this guy's music goes past "I like this" to a point of fascination for me. Enjoy.


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