Friday, March 18, 2016

Just plain folk - and more

   Last Friday, I saw in the Claremont Courier that Marley’s Ghost was playing the next night at the Folk Music Center.  I was delighted, feeling that I was in luck.  Marley’s Ghost is one of my favorite bands, and I happened to not have plans for Saturday night.  Plus it would be a nice way to celebrate getting over a horrible cold that I had had for two and a half weeks.  I went by the store the next afternoon and snagged a ticket. Sweet! 
   The group put on a great show, as always.  I have seen this folk band – there are six guys – four or five times, and they are wonderful.  I like folk music, old-time music, and these guys play and sing with lots of soul.  The trick, for me, is that they infuse a lot of their stuff with reggae and also borrow a lot from the Grateful Dead.  So they are right up my alley. I once heard them play a song about love being like jelly in your belly that was just magic, deeply feel-good.  Also, as with many folk bands, they feature much humorous, corny banter, and it’s a kick to see these white guys my age – in their 50’s – jamming and singing so sweetly in harmony and doing it so superbly. 
   Also, seeing them at the Folk Music Center was a real treat.  The Folk Music Center is in Claremont and is practically a museum in addition to a store, with all kinds of acoustic guitars, violins, drums, xylophones and other folk instruments from all over the world lining the walls, literally from floor to ceiling, and visitors encouraged to try out some of them.  It was founded by Charles and Dorothy Chase, the grandparents of Ben Harper, and it is sort of legendary around here and probably at least in the wider folk world. 
   The store puts on in-store concerts usually about once or twice a month, and, over the years, I’ve seen a number of groups there, from the pretty traditional Wicher Brothers to the punk-folk I See Hawks in L.A, and this wasn’t the first time I saw Marley’s Ghost there.  The back half of the store, which is relatively small, is cleared, with folding chairs set up.  It is like going to a concert in someone’s living room, an intimate jam session with top-notch musicians surrounded by beloved instruments.  What’s more, tickets go for $10 or $15.
   Like I said, a real treat – and all the more so with Marley’s Ghost! 

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