Saturday August 29, Tonder Festival, Townes Van Zandt tribute with J.T. Van Zandt, Butch Hancock, Hans Theessink + Mary Gauthier and Chris Smither, Denmark.
Saturday, February 27, 2016, Brugglibar, Thun CH
Tønder Scores Songwriter Legend
John Prine tops the bill at 2015 Tønder Festival.
Tønder Festival has a long tradition of presenting a cocktail of new names and famous veterans.
68 year-old John Prine is not just a veteran, he is a legend, among the absolute elite of great American songwriters.
John Prine's songs have been recorded by countless musicians, and his praises sung not only by his many many fans, but also by his colleagues, among them Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. With songs like Sam Stone, Angel From Montgomery and Hello In There - classics from the huge American song book - John Prine has to be one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time.
Pride in Tønder
”We are of course extremely pleased and proud to be able to present John Prine. He has been high on our list of target artists for many years, and our audience have named John Prine again and again as someone they wanted to see at Tønder Festival,” says Maria Theessink, artistic director at Tønder Festival.
Message from Prine
The man himself has sent a few words: "I'm really looking forward to appearing at Tønder Festival in Denmark this summer. It's many years since I was in the country, and I hear that Tønder Festival is a wonderful experience for musicians and audience alike. It is an honour to perform here with my band," says John Prine.
Dylan and Cash
Bob Dylan invokes both James Joyce and French philosophers, calling John Prine's songs “pure Proustian existentialism”, and Johnny Cash writes in his autobiography that John Prine was one of the songwriters he listened to for inspiration. John Prine's skill at writing simple, ear-catching songs telling relevant and touching stories is quite simply legendary. As are his concerts, where he garnishes his songs with fine tales.
It All Began in Chicago
John Prine's career began on the Chicago folk scene in the late 60s. He worked as a postman, then, urged by friends, sang at an open mic evening at a folk club. When Kris Kristofferson noticed the talented young musician, that really set the ball rolling. John Prine released his first album in 1971, following it with a series of recordings through the 70s. His reputation grew rapidly, and his songs were sung by The Everly Brothers (Paradise), Joan Baez and Bette Midler (Hello In There), Bonnie Raitt (Angel From Montgomery) and Johnny Cash(Sam Stone.)
Olsen and Prine
John Prine has made his mark in Denmark, too. Local singer Tamra Rosanes recorded I Just Wanna Dance With You in Nashville in 1996, in a duet with John Prine. Allan Olsen included a John Prine song on his album Jøwt from 2014: Hai Fæk Skyllen, which is The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness in a Danish (or rather North Jutland) translation.
Prizes and recognition
John Prine has won many prizes, among them the BBC Radio 2 Lifetime Achievement Award and membership of the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame. He was recently inaugurated into The Recording Academy’s Hall Of Fame with his debut album from 1971, joining celebrities like Hank Williams and Neil Young.
John Prine's latest album is The Singing Mailman Delivers from 2011. 40 years after his debut album, John Prine released this double cd of demos and live versions of earlier songs.
Big on Galway
John Prine lives in Nashville today, but is often in Galway in Ireland. His connection with Ireland was through working with the guitarist Philip Donnelly, who toured with Donovan and worked as a musician and songwriter in USA, recording with Townes Van Zandt, among others. In 1986 Donnelly invited John Prine to Ireland, and as Prine said in an interview med The Irish Times,
“That was the first time I had played in Ireland, and I didn't want to go home again. I played two shows, but stayed two weeks.” His love of Ireland became tangible, as it was here he met his wife, Fiona.
John Prine performed in England, Scotland and Ireland in 2013.
Now it is Tønder Festival's turn: John Prine and his band are playing on Sunday 30th August. www.johnprine.net
The story so far:
John Prine (USA), Sturgill Simpson (USA), The Lone Bellow (USA), Bellowhead (ENG), Hayseed Dixie (USA), La Bottine Souriante (CAN), Mánran (SCO), Chris Smither (USA), Kepa Junkera (E),
Mike Andersen (DK), Hans Theessink's Townes Van Zandt project feat. J.T. Van Zandt, Butch Hancock, Richard Dobson amo. (NL, USA), Eleanor Shanley (IRL), Mary Gauthier (USA),
The Wood Brothers (USA), Folkeklubben (DK), Poul Krebs & Friends feat. Henning Kvitnes & Daniel Lemma amo. (DK, N, S), The Stray Birds (USA), Sheesham, Lotus & 'Son (CAN),
Ten Strings And A Goat Skin (CAN), Spiro (ENG), Kathryn Tickell & The Side (ENG), Gregg Russell & Ciaran Algar (ENG), Lynn Miles (CAN), Allan Taylor (UK) The Sexican (DK), Three Tall Pines (USA), The Great Malarkey (ENG), Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns (USA), King James & The Special Men (USA), Jonah Blacksmith (DK).
Signed books and Music: www.MyTexasMusic.com
European music distribution: www.brambus.com
Books in print and Kindle from Amazon: www.amazon.com : Pleasures of the High Rhine, A Texas Singer in Exile: Travel, music, and fishing adventures; expatriate tales from Europe at the turn of the millennium. The Years the Wind Blew Away, Don Ricardo’s Life and Times, the collected and edited newsletters from 1978-2012. The Gulf Coast Boys: First published in 1996, offshore adventures and tales from the road with Townes Van Zandt and the Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys. (Second edition).
Richard Dobson is a Texas singer-songwriter from Tyler and former roughneck who gamboled around Galveston and Houston, then Austin and Nashville, before spending the past 13 years living in Switzerland and playing all over Europe. That’s the shorthand. The long version is this fine piece of contemporary literature, Pleasures of the High Rhine – A Texas Singer in Exile.
I’ve known Richard since the 1970s when he was hanging around Austin and sometimes touring as part of Townes Van Zandt’s band, as told in his previous book Gulf Coast Boys, and have stayed in touch over the years by reading his eloquent observations in his occasional Don Ricardo’s Life and Times newsletter.
He’s enjoyed nominal success, his songs having been covered by Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Kelly Willis, Carlene Carter and Dave Edmunds, and the Carter Family, among others. As solid as his tunes are, it’s Dobson’s literary writing that grabs me.
Pleasures of the High Rhine was written at a critical time in Dobson’s life: his friends Townes and the writer Roxy Gordon have died fairly young, leaving him to contemplate their lives and demise. A red-haired Swiss woman has left her family and joined him in Galveston for a year before returning to Switzerland as a couple. A new millennium has begun.
Pleasures of the High Rhine covers songwriting, collaborating, performing and recording with a German band led by Thomm Jutz (now a Nashville cat), the strangeness of playing venues that ostensibly showcase American country music, and observations thereof, a critical skill for any songwriter.
But it’s also about living as an expatriate in a foreign country, redefining what home is, learning to speak German, being welcomed into a new family, living on the Swiss-German border, food, drink, his relationship with Edith, trips back to Houston and Nashville, gardening (including growing his own marijuana in a society that doesn’t much care one way or another) aging, and, water.
The latter is where Dobson really sings. He opens with a passage about fishing in the Gulf off of Galveston, down to describing the second and third sandbars offshore and the joys of “green water” fishing in the fall when the Gulf clarifies briefly into Caribbean-like beauty. Finding beauty in its harsh roughness, he writes the Texas Gulf like no one I’ve read before.
He soon finds himself on the Rhine River and delves into it with similar zeal and a newfound curiosity.
His pursuit of a fishing license – no easy thing in Switzerland, requiring an extensive 140 question test in Deutsch – a steep learning curve how to fish the Rhein, especially for elusive trout, and his summer swims in the river lead to deep history of the river and its inhabitants, including not so pleasant events such as Kristalnacht when synagogues were burned and Jews persecuted, and the historic fouling and restoration of the waterway.
He gets it.
Contemporary global events such as the election of George W. Bush and 9-11 are seen from a distance that lends perspective, written by a kindred spirit.
The finest singer-songwriters possess the gift where their words often transcend the music. In Pleasures of the High Rhine, Richard Dobson’s words simply sing.
Available through mytexasmusic.com
The Years the Wind Blew Away: Don Ricardo's Life and Times
The Years the Wind Blew Away, an edited edition of newsletters from 1978-2012 is now available through Amazon, in both print and Kindle versions. With publication of this book, I changed the name of this ongoing series to Don Ricardo’s Report from the High Rhine.
Subscribe to Richard Dobson's newsletter.
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