I can remember it vividly - more vividly, in fact, than such other adolescent landmarks as my first kiss or my high school graduation.
It was a cold, rainy spring morning when I got on the bus and headed for the old Twin Fair store on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. Once there, I made a beeline for the record department, where I spent the next two or three hours examining each and every record album in the store.
Finally, after seemingly endless internal debate, I walked up to the checkout counter and set down my money along with my selections — “The Return of Roger Miller” (the one with “King of the Road”) and the Righteous Brothers’ first album (featuring “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”). They were $2.99 each in mono, a dollar cheaper than the stereo versions.
Those were the very first record albums that I ever bought, and I was immediately hooked. Now, nearly 30 years later, nestled next to thousands of other slabs of 12-inch vinyl that I’ve added to my ever-growing collection, I still have those first two albums.
I guess you could say that those two albums were my personal musical “roots,” although, of course, I didn’t consider those implications at the time, and those well-worn grooves still sound exciting and somehow comforting to me, despite the scratches and pops that have developed over the years.
It got me to wondering what record albums might have initially influenced today’s recording artists. Stay tuned for a sampling of what I discovered.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy
“No, I don’t remember the first album that I actually bought, but I remember having fiddle records given to me when I was a young lad, and I would learn to play the whole albums.
“There were four specific records that were given to me – the Scottish fiddler Gerry Holland, an Irish fiddler named Sean McGuire, the Canadian fiddler Graham Townsend and the French-Canadian fiddler Jean Carringnon – that were huge influences on me because I just learned all four of the records from start to finish.
“And they were four different, very distinct styles, and each style required a different technique.”
Donnell Leahy teams up with Natalie MacMaster (who also happens to be his wife) for a fab fiddle concert, “Visions from Cape Breton and Beyond,” at The Egg’s Hart Theatre in Albany at 7:30pm on Wednesday (February 25). They will be melding their individual fiddle styles into a whirlwind of traditional and contemporary music featuring their band and dancers. Tickets are $29.50.
Thursday, August 28th, 2014
“The first album that I bought was the Pearl Jam Ten album.
“But before that, the first album that was given to me was the Paul Simon Graceland album, from my dad. That was a hugely influential album for me, even though it was very different for me. It was the music that made me very aware that there were no boundaries, and that there was such a big world out there with lots of different musics. Paul Simon made it OK to cross-pollinate sounds. His melodies and lyrics combined with the heartbeat of that African music was something that just brought me to a whole other level.”
Josh Groban – singer, actor and the host of yet another network TV singing competition – steps into the spotlight at Tanglewood’s Koussevitzky Music Shed with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra at 7pm on Saturday (August 30) in support of his latest album, All That Echoes.
Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
“It was ‘Penny Lane’ by the Beatles. I bought it for my girlfriend. I don’t even have it. I gave it away immediately.
But the first record that I bought for myself was probably ‘Walk Away Renee’ by the Left Banke. Yeah, that was the first one. I paid 74 cents for it.”
His playing has been heard on over 2,000 albums, garnering him 13 Grammy Awards, three Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year awards, a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. Dobro master Jerry Douglas leads his band into Nippertown for two shows this week. At 8pm on Wednesday (August 6), he’ll step into the spotlight at Club Helsinki in Hudson ($30). And at 8pm on Friday (August 8), he’ll take over the Swyer Theatre at The Egg in Albany ($28).
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
“It was Meet the Beatles. I was just a young kid, but I saw them on `The Ed Sullivan Show’ when they first came out, and that really changed my life.
“Of course, looking back at them now, I realize that those early Beatles records had American roots music all over them – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Buck Owens.”
Americana kingpin Jim Lauderdale teams up with the Nashville-based all-female bluegrass band Della Mae on the main stage at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival at the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill on Saturday (July 19).
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
“That’s a tough question. I don’t think I can remember. It was probably a Barbra Streisand album, but I can’t really say for certain.”
Singer and Broadway star Linda Eder steps into the spotlight at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Saturday (June 21). The concert will be recorded for her upcoming in-concert album, “Linda Live.” Tickets are $65.
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
G.E. Smith (photo: Drew Gurian)
“The first record I ever bought?
“Well, I don’t recall the first album, but I remember the first singles. I think I bought two records that night – a song called ‘The Three Bells’ by the Browns, and I bought ‘Alley Oop’ by Dante and the Evergreens. I was probably five or six years old at the time.”
Former guitarist with the Saturday Night Live Band, Bob Dylan, Hall & Oates and others, G.E. Smith teams up with guitarslingers Jim Weider (the Band, the Levon Helm Band) and Danny Kortchmar (Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Don Henley) as “The Masters of the Telecaster“ at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock at 8:30pm on Saturday (June 14). Rounding out the band is drummer Randy Ciarlante, keyboardist Brian Mitchell and bassist Byron Isaacs. Tickets are $60 for seats; $40 for standing room. The guitarists will also conduct a master class at 3:30pm prior to the concert.
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
“‘The One Little Duck with the Feather On His Back,’ but I was probably only about five years old. I didn’t actually go out and buy it myself, but I heard it at my cousin’s house, and I just had to have it.
“It was a red record, and it had little ducks on the label. I used to have a little baby record player, and I’d put the record on and then there was a mirrored-glass kind of merry-go-round thing that I would put on top of it.
“It must have been a 78. I don’t think they had 45s back then, did they?”
Patti Cathcart steps up to the microphone as one-half of the husband-and-wife jazz duo Tuck & Patti at the Van Dyck in Schenectady at 8pm on Thursday (June 5). Tickets are $18 in advance; $22 at the door.
Tuck Andress, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?
Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
“The first record that I ever bought with my own money – and not my mom’s money – was `Cosmic Slop’ by Funkadelic. Yeah, that must have been the one.”
Guitarslinger Vernon Reid cranks it up with his bandmates in Living Colour as they kick off the Capital Concert Series at the Empire State Plaza in Albany on Wednesday (June 4). The evening’s music kicks off at 5pm with Local 518 faves Mirk, followed by Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds before headliners Living Colour take the stage. Admission is free.