Cooder-Skaggs-White Offer Up a Banquet of American Roots Music
The so-called music in this café would be very good for murdering giant lizards in hell. Then gutting them and eating their organs raw, and smearing yourself with their cold reptilian blood. While being flogged by Satan.
Other than that, it’s okay.
Which is to say, go and see Cooder-Skaggs-White. Hurry. It is music as good, or good as music. Well, it’s good music. It’s what music used to do, is supposed to do, for you. Not a murdered lizard in sight, no fires, no pitchforks. You know, like a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie. It is no bit of careless whimsy that the tour is billed, “For the Good People.” Me, I wasn’t sure there were any “good people” left in this country, but that’s beside the point. If you build it, they will come. . .maybe that’s the idea here.
Yes, that’s Ry Cooder, the six-time Grammy-winning, musically peripatetic champion of Cuban, African, Indian, Hawaiian, Mexican music, and blues, jazz, norteno, folk, various fare too conveniently summed up as “roots music.” Now, at 68, he is delving into an archaeology of tunes from a bygone era called the 20th century. From a country even more out of reach than Cuba was, because it no longer exists. Think you know what American music is? You might, but then again, you might not.
Among the repertory: The Delmore Brothers, Flat & Scruggs, The Louvin Brothers, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Bill Carlisle, Merle Travis, Hank Snow, Blind Alfred Reed, Ralph Stanley. Among the tunes: “The Family that Prays,” “Take Me to Your Lifeboat,” “Sweet Temptation,” “Mansion on the Hill,” “On My Mind,” “Cold Jordan,” “Daniel Prayed,” “Hold What You Got,” “Pan American Boogie,” “A Fool Such as I,” “Above and Beyond,” “No One Will Ever Know,” “Gone Home,” “Wait a Little Longer,” “No Doubt About It,” “Wait A Little Longer, Please, Jesus,” “Pan-American Boogie,” “Unload,” “Above Yer Raisin,” “Reunion.”
New to you? Hie thee to hear it. Old to you? Hie thee to hear it. Not your favorite kind of music? All the more reason to go. I did, a couple months ago in Santa Barbara, Calif., not quite knowing what to expect. Wound up with an education, and no socks. Fields of clover spread before me as I walked out of theater.
Cooder has teamed with the endlessly touring country/bluegrass mandolin/fiddle virtuoso Ricky Skaggs, his guitarist/singer wife, Sharon White, harmony singing sister Cheryl White, and their miraculous piano playing 84-year-old dad, Buck. With the chugging, joyful rhythm section of Nashville bassist Mark Fain and drummer Joachim Cooder. Together they are playing a music so genuine, unaffected, so un-processed and non-GMO that it might not even be recognized as music by people under 30. Maybe 40.