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Episode Info: Scot and Jeff talk to Terry Teachout about The Band. Introducing the BandYour hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Terry Teachout, drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, author of the plays “Satchmo At The Waldorf” and “Billy And Me,” and author of, among others, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. Follow Terry on Twitter at @TerryTeachout, check out his excellent books of cultural and musical criticism here, and read his most recent work for the WSJ here. Terry’s Music Pick: The BandThis week the gang hops on board the mystery train and takes a journey deep into the unknowable heart of America as they discuss The Band, one of the true sui generis phenomena of the rock era. The Band is a rock group that, despite their relatively short (and variable) major-label career, has called forth more profound verbiage from music and cultural critics than most other North American artists save Bob Dylan, so the gang understands that they are walking paths already trodden solidly into shape by others (hello, Greil Marcus!). Nevertheless, attention must be paid: Terry, a child of the ’50s growing up in southeast Missouri, tells the story of growing up in a non-‘rock’ household and suddenly becoming cognizant of the great cultural ferment playing out on the radio and on vinyl. An early ’70s purchase of the original edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide having piqued his interest, he mail-ordered The Band’s first two albums and nothing was the same after that. Terry talks about how, as he went on to become a gigging jazz bassist in his college days and afterwards, he returned to much of the rock he had absorbed earlier to find it trite and ephemeral….but what had not aged for him was The Band’s deeply authentic take on the American tradition. Jeff comes from a much later generation (born in 1980, a tail-end Gen X’er) but feels exactly the same way despite telling a different story, one about being exposed to The Band (simultaneously with Dylan) by his father, who was a Sixties folkie at heart. All agree about how preternaturally uncanny The Band’s skill was at creating music and lyrics that evoked the true, beating heart of the American historical experience — music both current and modern, yet inexplicably timeless — despite the legendary irony that 4/5ths of the group were actually Canadians. From the Hawks to The Basement Tapes: The Pre-HistoryJeff argues that few artists have an actual history more compelling than The Band’s pre-history, and Terry agrees. Their story begins as a group that came together piece-by-piece in the early Sixties as the backing ensemble for Ronnie Hawkins (a rockabilly musician from Arkansas who made his name playing in Ontario, Canada, bringing people an authentic sound otherwise unavailable in the Great North). Rick Danko (bass), Richard Manuel (piano), Garth Hudson (organ/keyboards), and Robbie Robertson (guitar) we...
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