What's old is new again.Byline: LEWIS TAYLOR The Register-Guard
In recent years, Richard Crandell has played fewer "concerts," but his public performance schedule is as busy as ever.
On any given day, Crandell can be found playing his beat-up mbira mbira
or thumb piano
African musical instrument consisting of a set of tuned metal or bamboo tongues attached to a board or resonator. The tongues are depressed and released with the thumbs and fingers to produce melodies and song accompaniments. in parks, on street corners, in cafes and at the River Road pool where he swims several times a week. During a recent trip to New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , the Eugene musician found an unlikely audience when he played the Zimbabwean instrument - which makes a pleasant plink plink
v. plinked, plink·ing, plinks
1. To cause to make a soft, sharp, metallic sound; clink.
2. To shoot at casually.
1. when its keys are plucked - for a group of aspiring acrobats at a downtown trapeze school.
`The guy from the school said, `Ah, an mbira. You can play here all day as far as I'm concerned. This is beautiful,' ' the 59-year- old Crandell said.
Crandell has been captivated cap·ti·vate
tr.v. cap·ti·vat·ed, cap·ti·vat·ing, cap·ti·vates
1. To attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. See Synonyms at charm.
2. Archaic To capture. by the mbira, or thumb piano thumb piano
An African musical instrument, such as the kalimba or mbira, that has a small sound box fitted with a row of tuned tabs that are plucked with the thumbs. , lately. He hopes to release a CD of solo mbira music, but he's still a guitarist at heart. He'll mark the release of his new solo guitar album, "One on One," this Sunday with a party at Tsunami Books that should feel a little more official than the impromptu performance he gave for a reporter recently in the L&L Market Place parking lot.
"To me, it's just all about sound and space, leaving lots of space," Crandell said, summing up his musical philosophy. `Somebody said to Miles Davis Noun 1. Miles Davis - United States jazz musician; noted for his trumpet style (1926-1991)
Miles Dewey Davis Jr., Davis once, `What are you into these days, Miles?' and he said, `Subtraction subtraction, fundamental operation of arithmetic; the inverse of addition. If a and b are real numbers (see number), then the number a−b is that number (called the difference) which when added to b (the subtractor) equals .' '
Whether he's playing the mbira in a parking lot or the guitar on stage, Crandell specializes in making music that can breathe, and in crafting tunes that are accessible to just about anyone. In the early 1990s, he undertook a 50-state tour, stopping off at jails, detox de·tox
To subject to detoxification.
A section of a hospital or clinic in which patients are detoxified. centers, nursing homes and other institutions and offering free concerts to the people who lived there.
Although he's been known to play on the street for pocket change, Crandell isn't so much a busker as he is just a guy who carries an instrument with him wherever he goes.
One of the tunes on his new album, "Folksong," was written on a backpacking trip in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho; another, "Liam's Lullaby," was born at the old High Street Coffee Gallery in Eugene.
While fishing the Willamette River Willamette River
River, northwestern Oregon, U.S. It flows north for 300 mi (485 km) into the Columbia River near Portland. Oregon's most populous cities are in its valley. The Fremont Bridge, a steel arch with a main span of 1,225 ft (373 m), crosses the river at Portland. for steelhead recently, Crandell found more musical inspiration than fish, and ended up writing a song on the banks of the river.
"It was early morning, misty, there were people all around, and I just went out and I started playing," Crandell said. `And then I said, `Oh that's a piece,' and then I added something to that and I said `OK, I like this riff, that's a keeper.'
`It happens the same way with guitar. I've probably lost as many as I've kept.'
All of the guitar tunes on Crandell's new album were recorded between the early 1980s and late 1990s. The project began several years ago, when he took a box of old reel-to-reel tapes and dusty digital audio tapes to Bill Barnett's Gung-Ho studio to be preserved. After transferring the songs onto CD, Crandell heard the tunes with fresh ears.
`I started listening and I said, `This is not half bad, I kind of like this.' I had a couple of friends come over who had been close to the music and they said, `Well, you've gotta get this stuff out.' '
Crandell's new CD of old music is in the same vein as the music of Leo Kottke Leo Kottke (born on 11 September 1945 in Athens, Georgia, U.S.) is an acoustic guitarist. He is widely known for his idiosyncratic fingerpicking style, which draws on blues, jazz, and folk music influences, and his syncopated, polyphonic melodies. and the late Oregon guitarist John Fahey John Fahey may be:
Crandell's connection to Kottke is more than just comparative. Kottke recorded Crandell's song "Rebecca" for his 1975 album "Chewing Pine." The two met backstage after one of Kottke's Eugene concert appearances.
`I played the one riff that I could play and Leo Leo, in astronomy
Leo [Lat.,=the lion], northern constellation lying S of Ursa Major and on the ecliptic (apparent path of the sun through the heavens) between Cancer and Virgo; it is one of the constellations of the zodiac. comes over and says, `Hey, I'd like to learn that riff.' Crandell recalled. `So I handed the guitar back and forth to him and started showing it to him and I said, `No it's this double thumb thing,' and I said, `No no no, wait,' and then I said, `Oh jeez jeez
Used to express surprise or annoyance.
[Alteration of Jesus1.] , here I am yelling at Leo Kottke.' '
Crandell had another brush with fame when two songs he recorded with his former musical partner Bill Bartels (`Box Cars," "Oregon Hill") were used by ABC ABC
in full American Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. television network. It began when the expanding national radio network NBC split into the separate Red and Blue networks in 1928. in its television coverage of the 1984 Olympics.
If you're wondering how Crandell went from classical guitar to Zimbabwean thumb piano, the answer lies with the Eugene-based Afro-pop band Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited. Crandell drove the group's tour bus for a year, during which he was introduced to many variants of the instrument, which has tiny metal keys, and a wooden sounding board. His current mbira is made of metal and walnut. It was about to be thrown away until he rescued it from the scrap heap scrap·heap also scrap heap
1. A pile or heap of waste material.
2. A place for discarding useless or worthless material. .
"If I do record an mbira CD, I couldn't do it on another mbira; it's gotta be this one," Crandell said, holding up his well-worn instrument, which has actor Danny Glover's autograph on the back and a children's sticker on the front. "It's got kind of a real dull-like quality. Someone described it as a combination of harp and vibes. It's not a great mbira, but it's irreplaceable."
The mbira isn't the only other instrument Crandell plays. He taught himself how to play the upright bass after meeting Charles Mingus in Portland in the 1970s; he studied jazz piano during the 1980s and later joined the Eugene salsa combo Caliente.
In 1998, Crandell served as the organist for the Eugene Emeralds, playing Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack," ragtime ragtime: see jazz.
U.S. popular music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries distinguished by its heavily syncopated rhythm. Ragtime found its characteristic expression in formally structured piano compositions, the accented left-hand tunes and other standards from behind home plate.
A mild tremor that appeared recently in Crandell's nervous system makes it more difficult for him to play keyboards and guitar, and he confesses that there are some songs on his new album that he'll never be able to replicate in concert. His ability to play the mbira, though, has not been compromised, which means there are probably some more dents and dings in his instrument's future.
"I'm not really doing traditional African music (on the mbira)," said Crandell, who has already started adapting his guitar music for the mbira. "I write jazz tunes on here, Celtic jigs, Appalachian tunes, reggae. ...
`It's just another instrument to me."
Entertainment reporter Lewis Taylor can be reached by phone at 338-2512 and by e-mail at ltaylor @guardnet.com.
WHAT: CD release party
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St.
FOR SALE: Crandell's new CD is available at Tsunami Books, CD World, House of Records, Borders and Barnes & Noble
Richard Crandell has put out a CD of guitar songs. Crandell's instrument of choice these days, however, is the mbira.