Aug 222008

Another FRIDAY FLASHBACK! based on my own upcoming road trip. It’s off to Seattle, where I plan on visiting Experience Music Project, the Seattle-centric rock museum that Townsman BigSteve chronicled in one of our earliest Rock Town Hall blog posts. I’d hoped that a monthy Trippin’ series would develop, in which Townspeople would report on their own rock-related road trips, but to date I think this is the only rock road trip report. Hrrundivbakshi did report on a curiously named record store he found somewhere in Japan, I believe, so I’m holding out hope that this series will catch fire yet. Should I make it to EMP this weekend, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts. Now let’s revisit a very cool post!

This post initially appeared 1/23/07.

BigSteve, our Townsman in New Orleans, files the following report from Seattle.

I went to the Experience Music Project yesterday. I thought it was definitely worth the visit, and there was more than enough to keep me occupied for 3 hours. There’s actually not that much exhibit space, and one of the, presumably temporary, exhibits was a commercial for Disney musical product that gagged me. The history of rap exhibit was more interesting, but at least the Disney shit helped keep the busloads of kids away from the interesting stuff. The other useless parts of the museum were the interactive areas – you pay extra, go into a “studio” and `make your own CD by playing with a few computer stations. There’s also something where you pay and end up with a DVD of yourself onstage playing with other people in a band. I don’t know how it works, and I wasn’t interested enough to find out.

There’s a very nice exhibit, I assume permanent, on the history of music from the Pacific Northwest. From the Fleetwoods through the Ventures and Raiders and Sonics to grunge and punk. Lots of posters, artifacts, instruments, video – not enough time to look at it all.

The Hendrix exhibit is pretty amazing. I mean, they have the white Strat that he played at Woodstock, the guitar he was most often seen playing. They have pieces of many smashed guitars. Really I could have spent all day looking at this exhibit alone. They had lots of video of him playing, and then they had many of the outfits he was seen wearing in the videos, and you know how important fashion is to me.

The other really great exhibit is on the history of the guitar – a large room with all the walls lined with picture window sized display cases with maybe 100 different guitars. Everything from the earliest electrics to a Steinberger. Amps too. Each one is numbered, and you have an electronic device with headphones so you can punch in the number and hear somebody famous play *that* guitar – Brent Mason chicken picking a Tele, etc. They had a bunch of lap slides, and Greg Leisz played most of those. You could also punch up various people talking about the instrument. It was cool for a gearhead, and again I could have spent a lot more time there.

Three chill-inducing experiences:

  • At the beginning of the Hendrix exhibit they had a bunch of drawings he had made when he was little. They were quite good, and you could just feel this poor kid’s creativity trying to find an outlet in the 50s.
  • Besides lots of video of Hendrix playing, there was a lot with people talking about him. In one a grey-bearded Robert Wyatt tried to describe what it was like when he first heard Hendrix play. Wyatt is such a cool guy, and I can’t explain it but his recollection was psychedelic in a good way.
  • In the guitar exhibit a big screen plays constantly with sort of one minute examples of famous guitarists. Les Paul, Merle Travis, Eddie Cochran, Jeff Beck, Derek & the Dominos, Albert King, etc. By far the best thing I saw yesterday was a clip of Roy Buchanan on some TV show in the 70s playing an instrumental version of “Sweet Dreams” with his faceless backup band. He hardly moved, his face was a total blank, and the guitar sang so nice, very little flashy stuff. It was just a verse or maybe two, but it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I first watched it. I came back later and sat through everybody again to get to Buchanan, same effect. Before I left I just had to go back one more time, even though I was going to be late getting picked up by my buddy Scott. This time it literally brought tears to my eyes, it was just so beautiful. I had to collect myself before I went outside.

Then Scott took me out to the Hendrix gravesite down south around Renton. It’s in a normal cemetery, but they have a nice little dome and some columns, with his autograph etched into the granite a foot high on the outside. It’s ringed by other headstones, mostly blank and waiting, but his mom and dad and a few other people are buried there. It was nice, especially right after seeing the museum.

So anyway, I recommend both the EMP and the memorial to any visitors to Seattle, though your mileage may vary.



  16 Responses to “FRIDAY FLASHBACK! Trippin’: Experiences with Jimi and Roy”

  1. Incidentally, I believe Roy Buchanan’s “Sweet Dreams” plays over the ending credits of Scorcese’s The Departed.

  2. sammymaudlin

    Nice post. I have no reason to ever be up that way but always wanted to check that place out.

    I’ve also, on and off again, wanted to dip my toes in the Roy Buchanan waters but never knew where to start. this post sparked that desire again. I’m guessing one of those from the early 70s but… Or should I go for a compilation to begin with?

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    As a DeeCee-area guitar playin’ gearhead with occasional lapses into Kentonism, I ought to really like Buchanan, but I just don’t. I do, however, have a soft spot for Danny Gatton, who borrowed a good chunk of Buchanan’s schtick. (Far too much of it, now that I think of it; I mean, in the non-guitar area, poor guy.) Anyhow, check out “Unfinished Business” if you want to hear some serious — and some seriously tasty — tele pickin’. Like I say, I think Gatton’s a more satisfying listen than Buchanan.

  4. sammymaudlin

    Thanks. I’ll definitely check that out too. Once every couple of years Buchanan’s name comes up in a context that makes me think I gotta check this out. This post included.

  5. BigSteve

    Btw this clip is cool, but, just to clarify, it’s not the one they show at the EMP. Buchanan looks older in this one. I guess I didn’t realize that Sweet Dreams was one of his signature vehicles.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    Btw this clip is cool, but, just to clarify, it’s not the one they show at the EMP.

    Thanks for the clarification. I was pleasantly suprised to find anything on Buchanan. I won’t ask you if this version inspired even a single tear welling in one of your eyes. I thought it was pretty coo.

    Were you notified of your Upgraded Blogger Status? Congrats! If it hasn’t happened already, The Back Room will be contacting you to explain your new privileges/powers. (Cape and tights not included.)

    We look forward to others following your lead in helping us get this scene out from its mother’s basement. Join together, people.

  7. BigSteve

    In this clip Mr. B seems more self-aware, conscious of the fact that he’s trotting out his repertoire of tasty licks. He’s overdoing the volume knob trick, and people are lapping it up. In the EMP clip, he’s completely lost in the music, and he shows it, not by making guitar faces, but by being completely still and stone-faced. And there was very little flash, just soul with an occasional adornment of the melody. The clip posted here was decadent, though I was glad to see it and compare.

    Obviously I didn’t feel the same way about this one, but I’m almost glad. I don’t think my heart could have taken it. A while back, we had a thread about ‘favorite reliable chill-inducing moments in rock’ or some such, and that concept is foreign to me. The thing about the chill-inducing moment is that it sneaks up on you (or me anyway). That’s why I was so shocked about my experience of the clip at the museum, since the effect was actually getting progressively more intense. So I had to buy my souvenir baseball cap and get out of there.

  8. BigSteve

    I forgot … no, I did not get any notification of change in status, by email, if that’s what you mean. The site recognizes me when I open the bookmark (I skip the front page, because I hate websites that make sound, even one chord, without asking my permission, and because I basically want to get right to the bloggy goodness), and I don’t have to log in. Cookies I assume.

    And btw I use Mozilla on the laptop here, and the youtube links work fine.

  9. The Back Office

    Hello bigsteve. We sent out your Blogger notification late last night from our west coast back office. Let us know if you haven’t received it by now.

    Also, for anyone that wants to skip the into page, we sympathize… simply bookmark this URL- .

    Thank you for your attention.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    NOTE: On this updated version I may have found the version of Roy Buchanan that BigSteve saw at EMP. I don’t know, but in this clip he is older and not showboating at all.

  11. BigSteve

    Thanks for trying, but this isn’t the one. In the clip I saw he was actually younger. He still had hair, and the Look of the band was very earth-toned and 70s. There was less technique (which is admittedly amazing in this clip) and I recall more just playing the melody.

    This thread really brings me back to when we were still figuring out this blog stuff. Hard to believe it was only about a year and a half ago. It feels like much longer.

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    BigSteve — have you gottean around to Gatton yet? Should I post a primer for you?


  13. BigSteve

    I’ve heard Gatton. I used to have an LP, though I don’t recall which one, but that would give you an idea of how long ago this was.

    If you want to post a primer, that would be cool. The problem with guitarslingers is always context. All tasty licks all the time usually doesn’t work (except as an exercise in humility for other guitar players), but getting a singer and trying to build a band around the guitar doesn’t work without a good songwriter.

    How did Gatton solve the problem?

  14. diskojoe

    I dig that Raiders GTO Judge commerical, which I’ve seen before. It sounds like it should belong on the Who Sell Out, my fave rave Who album.

    Here’s another GTO commercial featuring a short-lived option you would never see these days. Although the musical backing is crappy, I can imagine the MC5 pepping this us a bit:

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, diskojoe! It takes a car nerd to know a car nerd. I suppose you’ve already seen this bit of automotive porn:

  16. diskojoe

    Yes, HBV, I saw that clip already, but thanks, anyway. There’s something about cars from 1964-72 that hits the sweet spot w/me.

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