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Baker's Dozen

There's Always A Story: Martin Carthy's Favourite Music
Patrick Clarke , November 8th, 2023 10:32

Martin Carthy speaks to Patrick Clarke about his 13 favourite records, his love for the new wave of traditional musicians, encounters with Bob Dylan and The Beatles and more


Snooks Eaglin – New Orleans Street Singer

The first recording I heard was made by an American professor of music called Harry Oster, who I met because he had found out that the English loved Snooks Eaglin and come rushing over here to see what was going on. He was a very, very nice bloke. I once did a gig for him at the University Of Iowa where he was a professor of music. I had an audience of about 11 people, but it was lovely to see him again; he was just showing a bit of loyalty to someone he had met over here.

Anyway, Snooks Eaglin. He was alleged to have a repertoire of over 1,000 songs that he could pull out of the hat straightaway. He was blind, and he was a spectacular guitar player. He never misses a note, ever, and also does some very slow, melodic twelve bar blues. His range was incredible, he could play ‘High Society’, the George Lewis clarinet solo, at clarinet speed. He can play a million notes a second, but sometimes he just plays very, very few and it makes you very, very happy. It was all acoustic then, but later he disappointed all the folkies in the USA; not only was he plugging in and playing a telecaster, after he got fed up with them he ended up playing in the Playboy Club. People were outraged. ‘How could you do that to the blues?!’ He was doing it because of people like you, you jerks!