Historicity of music | Album Review: ‘Roberta Stars in the Big Doll House’ | The music

I felt it again today in Hangar 9, working on my PA system with my associate teammate and Hangar bookings coordinator, Blake Bledsoe. Was it the wind, or the long, lonely whine of an Amtrak motor’s air horn, echoing off into the cold winter air?

Hearing that sound is distinctive at two very different places, both of which were and still are pivotal in Carbondale’s musical and entertainment history. All the notes we struck in this legendary place (Hangar)…or anywhere else, for that matter…where do they go? In the interstellar medium via the solar wind, I specify, and, like the Voyager space probe, these notes move further and further away from the pale blue point.

Billions and billions of tickets! Dotted notes, full notes, white notes, twisted notes, appoggiaturas, blue notes like specks of dust floating in the void. From the tone of the Amtrak trains to the wail of the black snake, the number of great blues artists who have played at Hangar 9 (and Gatsby, also once a key player) is impressive.

A recent Facebook post by none other than the good mayor of Murphysboro and president of the Southern Illinois Blues Society, Will Stephens, reminded us that bluesman Matt “Guitar” Murphy walked the boards of the good old Hangar in 1982. I met Matt, and he was a lovely guy. He will be remembered by many in the movie “Blues Brothers” as the burly restaurateur and husband to the character Mrs. Murphy, played by Aretha Franklin. Matt Murphy lived a long and successful life, passing away at age 88 in 2018 (and thus missing out on the dreadful year of 2020).

Eddy Clearwater (1935-2018), Lonnie Brooks (1933-2017), Mighty Joe Young (1927-1999), drummer Clyde Stubblefield (ancestor of the James Brown funk beat, the most-sampled drummer of all time in hip- hop. 1943-2017), Big Time Sarah (1953-2015), Koko Taylor (1928-2009), AC Reed (1926-2004, a saxophonist with local roots who once opened a club-named Carbondale at the location of what is now the Buckwater Brew Works), Son Seals (1942-2004) and saxophonist Eddie Shaw (1937-2018). There were many more, many of whom are fortunately still active. Do the ghosts of those great blues people, now entered into that great juke joint in the sky, haunt our halls and our streets? I like to think so!

As reported in The Southern on January 27, 2021, Cloris Leachman, the chameleon actress of many faces and roles, has passed away quietly in her repose at the age of 94. The breadth of her skill set has allowed the Des Moines, Iowa native to play roles as diverse as Timmy’s mother in ‘Lassie’, Ruth in Peter Bogdanovich’s ‘The Last Picture Show’ and the inimitable Frau Blucher. in “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks.

Cloris Leachman is pictured in 1987. She performed at Shryock Auditorium in the 1990s.

Mrs. Leachman called me “Baby” at Shryock Auditorium, and we hit it off. We did the sound for her show when she played a date with Carbondale at Shryock on her “Grandma Moses” solo tour, circa 1990.

I have a strange feeling when I am alone in this place. It’s hard to describe. I feel it often, 103 year old building, and because I literally grew up on our beautiful campus here in Carbondale. So part of it is simple nostalgia. I have a sense of satisfaction doing my PA setup work with no one there except for maintenance in their basement office, the TD (Technical Director) and crew having taken time off for lunch break . I think of all the great artists who have walked the boards before me in the august structure, and that I am paid to attend the performances of the greats who have exercised their profession there.

Did you know that Shryock is considered haunted? The stage safety light is named “Henry”, for Henry Shryock, former (fifth) president of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Shryock died in his office inside the auditorium in 1935, and some believe old Henry still visits us on occasion. For more on Shryock, check out Hannah Erickson/SIU Media Services “From presidents to musicians to ghosts, Shryock Auditorium has hosted many in its 101 years.” The article is available online.

It’s amazing to stand on this stage amongst the tools of our trade and watch and think of the fabulous artists past and present who have performed there. From my personal sound engineering experience alone, this wildly diverse list includes Old Crow Medicine Show, The Kingston Trio, Jesse McCartney, Lily Tomlin, Paula Poundstone, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Vicki Lawrence, Lewis Black, Pete Seeger, Art Alexakis (Everclear), Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, The Uppity Blues Women, Tret Fure, John Prine, Richard Lewis (“Anything But Love” show with Jamie Lee Curtis), Travis Tritt, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Robert Earl Keen, Head East, rapper Young Joc, Garrison Keilor and many more.

Artists who have played Shryock who have come with their own production or with different sound providers include jazz bassist Stanley Clark, the Psychedelic Furs, Ray Charles, the Pretenders, the Divynls, Joe Bonnamassa, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Death Kloc/Megalopolis, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, French violinist Jean Luc Ponty, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Depeche Mode, Widespread Panic, the Avett Brothers, Ween, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Son Volt, Henry Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Goodman and Leo Kottke in a doubleheader, the Smothers Brothers and many more.

Avett Brothers

Seth Avett (right) and his brother Scott perform at Shryock Auditorium in 2011.

The Southern Archival Photo

Just today I read online that another great artist we worked with at Shryock, Hal Holbrook, died (January 23rd) in Beverly Hills, California at the venerable age of 95. . Writer and comedian Samuel Clemens’ Mark Twain brought the auditorium to life, and it was fantastic. Mr. Holbrook, despite his character’s long and popular run as Mark Twain, was able to avoid typing, appearing in numerous television, film and stage roles. An actor of unparalleled character, he has had roles in films as diverse as “All the President’s Men”, “The Firm”, “Into the Wild”, “The Fog” and many more.

Hal Holbrook

Hal Holbrook plays Mark Twain in 2009 at Carbondale’s Shryock Auditorium.

Christopher Parr, For the South

A great conversation with the fearsome Carlos Santana can be found in the Guitar Player online magazine for January 29, 2021. I was lucky enough to have been able to jam several times with Carlos during the legendary Tuesday Night Jam at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in the late 60s. I love Carlos’ comment about playing a Marshall amp for the first time, and that apt description in the GP track certainly matches my experience.

I purchased a used Marshall JCM-900 with a 4-12 speaker angled cabinet some time ago from Mike’s Music in Carbondale. Whereas I bought the thing more to use as a “backline” rental item (backline is stage gear: drums, amps, pedals, instrument stands, even instruments if a given band travels REALLY light) , I once dragged the Marshall rig into Carbondale club Tres Hombres for a gig with one of my outfits, the Venturis. The band was like “what’s THIS thing doing here?” I turned the amplifier to ONE (yes, one out of ten; and no, it WILL NOT GO TO ELEVEN!) and the result was loud enough for The Who’s Pete Townshend at the Enormo Dome. The mere sound of the tube humming in slow motion was disturbing enough to scare you!

I’m working on two records at two studios, playing some tracks off a new Tim Crosby album at Misunderstudio and a new Pate Blewett effort at Low Key Studio. Led by long-time engineers Mike Lescelius and Shadi Frick on the boards, respectively, these recordings will be available…soon!

Our other band, ‘Til the Morning Comes, will be playing the Virtual Varsity show from the East Room in the fabulous venue on the evening of Saturday February 27th.

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