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.
Friday, May 1st, 2015
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
“The first record I bought was a 45, ‘Help Me Rhonda’ by the Beach Boys.
“But the first album I bought, which was probably a year or two later, was by Joan Baez on Vanguard Records, probably her first or second album.
“They might seem a little different, but they’re very illustrative of the two things that I was listening to at the time – AM radio and folky stuff.”
The fab folk and swing acoustic duo of Jay Ungar & Molly Mason play a concert at the Valatie Community Theatre in Valatie at 8pm on Saturday (May 2). Tickets are $20 with proceeds going to the fun for the ongoing restoration of the theater.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
“I’m going to have to think hard on that. You know what? I think the first album that I ever bought was by Chuck Mangione. I think that was it.
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.