This past weekend marked the second leg of our big fam jam summer road-tripping series, this time to our nation’s capital, Ottawa (well, Kanata, but close enough) to assist with the SunRype TRi-KiDS triathlon series. So while Kelly sleeps off her marathon 8 hour drive back from Ottawa this afternoon and HRH is at horse-riding camp, I’m sleeping off my own 14 hour work day (yesterday) by curling up with a book (‘Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde‘ by Jeff Guinn) and record I also picked up this weekend, the ‘Indian Summer‘ soundtrack by Pete Seeger and Michael Seeger.
On our drive up on Friday, we decided to take a rest break in Merrickville, Ontario to browse mustard at Ms. Garrigle’s (we are total mustard aficienado’s), and then records at Vinyl Destination (a most pleasant surprise). There may, or may not, have been a deadly ghost pepper peanut and a panicked ice cream cone afterwards.
The Vinyl Destination shop is located in a quaint building off Brock St. in downtown Merrickville and features my favorite kind of records: old dusty ones stored in amazing old dusty wooden crates. The shop keeper was also a pretty swell guy to boot, so I definitely didn’t want to leave empty handed (hey, if you can’t support your small independent record owners, who can you support?). After about 30 minutes or so of browsing HRH and I found a few treasures that I was happy to pick up for our home collection and this album was (for me) the real coup de tat.
Pete Seeger and Mike Seeger composed and performed the music for this soundtrack, singing and playing fiddle, five-string banjo, guitar, twelve-string guitar, chalil (bamboo flute), harmonica, pump organ and drum. As Pete notes, this is an “attempt to demonstrate what can be done with relatively simple American folk instruments to provide a programmatic score closely following the action on the screen.”
One of Pete Seeger’s most non-traditional and interesting albums, ‘Indian Summer‘ actually contains the soundtracks to four different short films. The entirety of side one is taken up by the soundtrack to Jules V. Schwerin’s non-narrative film ‘Indian Summer’, composed and recorded by Seeger with his half-brother, Michael Seeger. It’s a fascinating, wide-ranging piece that wanders through a variety of moods and musical settings, one of those soundtracks that makes the listener want to see the movie itself. Side two consists of three shorter soundtracks, to Norman McLaren’s ‘Horizontal Lines‘ (featuring Seeger overdubbing himself on half a dozen instruments, with sound effects) and two films by himself and wife Toshi Seeger, ‘The Many-Colored Paper‘ (an overdubbed two-guitar improvisation on ‘Deck the Halls‘ that sounds like it was hugely influential to the folks who began Windham Hill Records) and ‘The Country Fiddle‘ (three examples of traditional country fiddle playing with banjo and clogging accompaniment). The soundtrack is both a richly musical and historically important artifact, hence it being released on the Smithsonian Follkways Records label (FS 3851).
The album cover and record itself is a bit beat up as with the case for any well-used and well-loved Folkways album, but the sound is remarkably decent. If anything, what few little nicks and scratches there are add a certain ambiance to the whole experience. Likewise, it’s a terrific summer-themed listen, despite the fact that’s it’s currently stupid° outside so I’ve instead retreated into my cool, dark basement like a vampire retreating from the sun. I’ll do something more active workout-wise tomorrow. This afternoon….I’m just relaxing.