Weekend at Henry’s
Chris Robinson, The Wrecking Crew, Vinyl in the Woods, Gillian Welch all visit Big Sur this week.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
There won’t be much need to move from the grassy carpet of the Henry Miller Library all holiday weekend long.
The marathon of entertainment begins on Friday with a showing of The Wrecking Crew. The film documents a group of Los Angeles ’60s session musicians known for churning out some of the biggest pop hits of the decade, from the Batman theme song to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”
Making the film was a labor of love for director Denny Tedesco, whose father Tommy was one of the Wrecking Crew’s guitarists.
“I wanted to make sure I got his story, as well as his friends’ stories, out there, before he passed,” says Tedesco, who will attend Friday.
The group of Herculean unknowns – who worked on average more than 13 hours, seven days a week – helped create what has been hailed as the soundtrack of a generation. Through the film, Tedesco has helped the story live on, while giving deserved credit to undeniable talents, through a soundtrack featuring more than 130 song snippets and interviews with musicians of the era including Brian Wilson, Herb Alpert and Nancy Sinatra.
Tedesco may have not completed the film before his father died of cancer – it took 12 years to wrap – but he ended up with a one-of-a-kind rockumentary.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, 2010 was another good year for vinyl: Sales increased by 14 percent and around 2.8 million units were sold. Expect Big Sur to be saturated with record geeks who helped make that possible on Saturday morning as the second annual Vinyl in the Woods kicks off. Amoeba (Bay Area, Los Angeles), Finders Keepers (L.A.), Vinyl Revolution and Oscillator (Monterey), Vinyl Isle (Morro Bay), Groove Merchant and Secret Seven (San Francisco) and many others will peddle rarities and timeless classics. There will also be a surplus of independent sellers and DJs.
As for snacks, the Babaloo Cuban Food Truck will be on call making kick-ass Cuban sandwiches and “Little Rickys” cookies with homemade Cuban coffee ice cream.
After Chris Robinson and The Black Crowes took their second hiatus – of undetermined length – the gangly, bearded rocker immediately put together the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, a folky blues salad featuring Neal Casal (Ryan Adams) on guitar, Adam MacDougall (Black Crowes) on keys, George Sluppick (Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, JJ Grey and Mofro) on drums and Mark “Muddy” Dutton (Burning Tree) on bass.
On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, CRB will motor through originals, Crowes’ tunes and classic covers ranging from Bob Dylan to the Grateful Dead.
Meanwhile, Howlin’ Rain, opening for CRB on both days, is like a crossbreed between Philip K. Dick and Creedence Clearwater Revival.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OA1V2PKndc&feature=related
“Dancers at the End of Time,” on album Magnificent Fiend, was inspired by British sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock’s epic trilogy of the same name. Right from the get-go, the track jams with a driving force that rivals the best ’70s arena rock. But it’s frontman Ethan Miller’s John Fogerty-like voice and erudite lyrics about the universe collapsing on itself that really seals the deal.
“Sometimes lyrics go a little more personal, sometimes a little more literary,” Miller says. “But they’re at their best when they intertwine.”
Lately, Miller has been more into the classics like Moby Dick and War and Peace.
“If paperback sci-fi informed the last record, it may be more serious this time around,” he says.
Howlin’ Rain is in the midst of mixing and mastering its third album with guru producer Rick Rubin.
“[Rubin’s] a super feel guy and doesn’t have one set way for doing things,” Miller says. “It’s hard to outguess him. He’s good at closing his eyes and reaching deep for the real heart and feel of a song, and that’s a tricky thing to do.”
Miller began writing the tunes for the album more than three years ago and says the process leading up to its release has been quite arduous.
“Speaking of Moby Dick, making this album has been kind of a white whale for us,” he says. “Like any obsession, I deeply love it and hate it at the same time. But the music itself I feel really proud of.”
Gillian Welch will close Memorial Day weekend in Big Sur with her longtime musical partner, guitarist David Rawlings. Welch’s special brand of Appalachian folk takes listeners on extended voyages into the history and culture of America. And her voice can reach the heavens.
The singer-songwriter’s 2001 album, Time (The Revelator), arguably her opus, made “best of the decade” lists in several publications including Rolling Stone, Paste and Uncut and was also nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category.
The twangy, banjo-heavy “My First Lover,” reveals a side of Welch that’s both tender and unapologetic: “At a surfer party with the whiskey pourin’ and the bottle rollin’, I was on the floor with my first lover.”
Welch hits the road next month with Buffalo Springfield for their reunion tour, and will also release her first studio album in eight years.
THE WRECKING CREW screens at 7:30pm Friday, May 27 ($15); VINYL IN THE WOODS happens 11am-4pm Saturday, May 28 (free); HOWLIN’ RAIN and the CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD play 8pm Saturday and 3pm Sunday, May 28-29 ($30); GILLIAN WELCH plays 7:30pm Monday, May 30 ($45; limited availability). All events happen at the Henry Miller Library, a quarter mile south of Nepenthe Restaurant on Highway 1, Big Sur. 667-2574.