(“Hillbilly Swing” by Dakota Dave Hull and Sean Blackburn)
The first time I ever heard Dakota Dave Hull was on that seminal repository of West Bank old-timers, Live at the Extemp, a 1975 compilation album produced by the Extempore Coffeehouse (then at 325 Cedar Avenue, which is now the Beauty Secret Hair Salon). The Coffeehouse was a meeting place frequented by everyone from Lazy Bill Lucas to our own dear Papa John Kolstad (we ran a tribute to Papa John here).
The only other album produced by the Coffeehouse that I am aware of is the 1982 debut LP by Greg Brown, One Night, which is a personal favorite (click here to hear some of it).
(“Death is my Name” and “Nine Year Waltz” by Hull and Ostroushko)
(Let it be noted that while this album was a regular thift store find when I was a kid, it’s now a pain in the rear to hunt up. I didn’t keep a very nice copy, I guess, so it’s sort of noisy. This is a universal truth of record collection: when you take an album for granted there’s always a gorgeous, maybe-only-played-once-by-a-sweet-old-lady-copy, and when you really want to hear it there’s the scuffed old, scotch-taped copy with no sleeve and the smell somewhere between moldy garage and sweet weed that you kept. Yep, that’s the one you’re hearing.)
Live at the Extemp is a special record because it captures so many collaborations. Dakota Dave appears in two settings: Once backing folk singer Jerry Rau and once performing as a duo with Petr Ostroushko (he’s credited as just reg’ler old Dave Hull, by the way). He and Ostroushko backed Rau on that ubiquitous local folk LP, Minnesota Minstrel, too. The collaborative spirit brought out the best of performances: all of these records I’ve mentioned, along with Papa John’s classic 70s LPs (my favorite is the saucy Beans Taste Fine) and others like the albums Hull produced for Spider John Koerner years later, are still household favorites around here. In a variety of ways each proved you could do new and exciting things with traditional music, and each captured the feeling that everyone was having fun in the process of making the recording.
This is what makes the Dakota Dave Hull/Sean Blackburn collaborations so much fun, not to mention all of Hull’s Prairie Home Companion performances (which I heard but never thought about – he was just another one of the guys on the show who I assumed had awesome shoes or something). This song from the album Hull’s Victory is a favorite old tune of mine and in this recording features Hull playing with a whole cast of great guitarists. Here a recording that includes a great performance by Doc Watson:
(“I Don’t Love Nobody”)
This is a really fun record and I’m entirely sure it was fun to record. I’ve never had any interaction with Dakota Dave Hull that wasn’t fun, whether it was hearing him on the radio, a record, or watching him play the guitar. This is true of the two discs Hull has co-produced with artists in 2012: Adam Keisling’s Unclouded Day and Mississippi Roll by Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers. Each celebrates collaboration and the re-invigoration of traditional melodies and themes. Unclouded Day is, as of the mid-point of 2012, one of my top two local albums of the year (#1 with a bullet is the debut album by Is/Is, III – and you can see them tonight at the Turf Club, by the way). Hull has an innate sense of what’s important about traditional music, something Cyn Collins captured in her great book West Bank Boogie. Here she quotes him talking about the music he plays on his KFAI program, The Dakota Dave Hull Show (Thursdays mornings at 10): “A lot of this music reflects a cold, hard world. And the world is a cold, hard place.”
It doesn’t have to be that way, at least not everywhere you go. When my job had me driving around all day I had a better feeling about the world for a couple hours every Thursday morning thanks to Dakota Dave Hull. I think a lot of other people have had that feeling, whether it was listening to him on the radio, listening to him play the guitar, or playing along with him.
Dakota Dave Hull will perform here at Hymie’s Records tomorrow, Sunday July 15th, at 3pm. I’m told he’s bringing four guitars, but I think he’ll play them one at a time. You can bet he’ll perform music to be included in his upcoming project, Dakota Dave Hull’s Classic American Ragtime Guitar, which you can read about – and contribute to his Kickstarter campaign – at this link.
A couple other Hymie’s events this weekend and beyond: Today, Saturday the 14th, we will have all kinds of traditional country, folk and blues LPs for sale at the Twin Cites’ Roots, Rock and Deep Blues Festival – we will be in the lobby of Patrick’s Cabaret until around the same time we close the record store, because nobody who works here is willing to miss a chance to hear the Cactus Blossoms, Nick Mrozinski and Charlie Parr, among the many acts performing on the three stages at this awesome event here in our happy hood, off the corner of Lake Street Minnehaha Avenue.
And at Harriet Brewing, one of the three businesses hosting the Roots, Rock and Deep Blues Festival, Laura will be DJing next Wednesday night, spinning the awesome combination of deep cuts by local bands, classic rock and soul jazz that she loves. And Monday I will be the DJ at the best country show in town, the Cactus Blossoms’ residency at the Turf Club. You can catch them every week with all kinds of amazing guests. I spin a selection of classic country and honky tonk singles between sets every third Monday.
There are an extraordinary amount of links in this post. Click on them all and I’ll give you a copy of Steven Forbert’s Dead on Arrival the next time you come into the shop (note: I only have one, so 50% of you are going to be disappointed).