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Notes From the Road

Notes from the Road

April 2, 2005 Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
Spider John Koerner and Tony Little Sun Glover met one spring day over 40 years ago, in Dave Ray's Greenwich Village apartment. Over the next three years Koerner, Ray & Glover would record five seminal folk-blues albums for Elektra Records, play at the Newport and Philadelphia Folk Festivals and inspire musicians yet to come. (Dylan wrote of Koerner's impact on his early days in Dinkytown, The Doors "borrowed" Koerner & Glover's recording of Johns "Southbound Train" as the basis for their hit "Love Me Two Times".) Their style of enthusiastic liquid-fueled playing kicked academic ass and gained them a reputation for being "ragged but right".

In time the threesome went in separate directions; Koerner to record with pianist Willie Murphy the self-penned, cult favorite album, RUNNING, JUMPING, STANDING STILL, then to spend much of his time in Boston. In the seventies, Koerner gave away his guitar and moved to Denmark. After a few years working really odd jobs there, music called and he resumed a musical career, but now concentrated exclusively on traditional folk music. He moved back to the states, and began performing again regularly, purveying his own brand of "American folk music done in contemporary bar-room style". Meanwhile Ray and Glover each played with various bands, then again teamed up to play righteous deep blues, recording several critically acclaimed albums and opening for acts like B B King and John Lee Hooker.

Over the years the trio reunited occasionally, for various local and national gigs (opening for The Who at the Guthrie, appearing at both Winnipeg & Vancouver Folk Festivals). Koerner began a series of recordings; a couple for Dave Ray's label, the rest on Red House. In 1996 KR&G recorded their first truly "trio" album, ONE FOOT IN THE GROOVE, and began regular annual appearances at the Cedar. The last filmed performance of the group took place there in March 2002, as director Don McGlynn privately shot a number of tunes for his documentary BEEN HERE.DONE THAT on Koerner (premiering the last week of March 2005 at Oak Street Cinema-located some 50 feet away from the original site of The Coffee Break, where all three played in the 60's).

This show marks the first concert appearance of Koerner and Glover since the December 2002 memorial for the late great Dave Ray, who died of cancer on Thanksgiving of that year.

V3 has been playing American roots music since the fall of 2002, one of their earliest concerts took place at the Cedar. Tony Glover (harp, vocals, rhythm guitar) has had a long relationship (both personal and professional) with Galen Michaelson, (lead & slide guitar) the second member of the group. Their friendship goes back to the coffeehouse days near the U of M, when Galen would tape the boys with his home machine at the Coffee Break. They also played together in both the seventies electric band Nine Below Zero and Dave Ray's Volunteers of the Blue Knight. Michaelson played washboard on a couple tracks of Ray & Glovers best album, 1990's ASHES IN MY WHISKEY. Jon Rodine, (rhythm piano, vocals) the junior member of the trio, has performed and recorded with Glover, the Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs, the House of Mercy band in St. Paul, and others. Largely on the basis of his self-titled album, he was named "acoustic performer of the year" by City Pages.

V3, in the words of Glover, "is more about songs, than technical virtuosity." They play a roots-oriented blend of folk, country, blues, gospel and rock'n'roll, with a little r&b on the side. (Expect tunes from people like Sonny Boy Williamson, Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt for example.) After Michaelson and Glover discussed the idea of playing together again on a regular basis, Glover called Rodine, with whom he'd first played while opening for Ralph Stanley in 2001. The three had similar tastes in songs, and one thing led to another. "We share responsibility pretty equally," says Rodine, "not just in playing and singing, but also in the tunes we bring to the project. It really is a group effort, and, like Tony said, it's not about being flashy. It's from the heart, and a little bit raw." (thanks to Tony Glover for these notes)

SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE.DONE THAT Page 1 Produced and Directed by Don McGlynn Executive Producer Celia Mingus Zaentz Associate Producer Mark Trehus Photographed by Frank Axelsen, Jef Burns, Hal Lansberry and Don McGlynn Edited by Christian Moltke-Leth and Don McGlynn with John Koerner, Dave Ray, Tony Glover, Willie Murphy, Mark Trehus, Laura Koerner and M.J. Mueller Running time 98 minutes with performances from: First Avenue nightclub and the Cedar Cultural Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Mojo Blues Bar (Copenhagen, Denmark) and The Plough and Stars (Cambridge, Massachusetts) featuring the songs: "Everybody's Going for the Money" "Taking My Time" "Last Lonesome Blues" "Black Dog" "Thief River Falls" "Acres of Clams" "Danville Girl" "Goodtime Charlie" "Summer of 88" and "What's the Matter with the Mill?" SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE.DONE THAT Page 2 About John Koerner and the documentary SPIDER JOHN KOERNER may be the greatest American folk musician you've never heard about. But then again, lots of people have heard about him, and love his music. Some of them are quite famous. As BOB DYLAN confirms in his autobiography, Koerner was not just a crony in the Minneapolis folk music scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was a major inspiration. Appreciation of his music and his influence has extended to other musicians, such as THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE KINKS, THE DOORS, DAVID BOWIE, BONNIE RAITT and BECK. His audience has been a deeply devoted one, and he has always been treated as a favored artist in his home of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis has had a vital music scene for decades. Many artists received international recognition - the most visible being BOB DYLAN and PRINCE, and later on SOUL ASYLUM. Akin to Minneapolis rockers HUSKER DÜ and THE REPLACEMENTS, SPIDER JOHN KOERNER also has a very intense following throughout the world, even though he has not sold millions of records. And those who know Koerner's records have pretty much committed them to memory, with numerous followers in such stongholds as Boston, Montreal, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Denmark. So, he is far from unappreciated. This documentary gives us a very full picture of the special nature of this paradoxical musical giant. As great as Koerner is, his performances have been notoriously under-filmed. SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE.DONE THAT corrects that mistake, and we see him in numerous setttings, with a wide variety of different musicians, which gives us quite a full picture of the depth and breadth of his accomplishments. His performances were photographed in a lot of different venues like First Avenue nightclub and the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, the Plough and Stars in Boston, and the Mojo Blues Bar in Copenhagen, Denmark. And we follow him into many of his haunts, both private and public - his Minneapolis home, his vacation cabin in Northern Minnesota, his neighborhood bar Palmer's, rehearsal sessions, his adopted home of Copenhagen where he lived for a time in the 1970s. And you will see a wide variety of visuals which show the atmosphere (and the passage of seasons) of the places he has lived. Page 3 Koerner tells his own life story, with assistance from such longtime collaborators as DAVE RAY, TONY GLOVER and WILLIE MURPHY, with special insight coming from his wife LAURA KOERNER, Dave Ray's wife MARY JANE MUELLER, and close associate and record producer MARK TREHUS. Koerner was born in Rochester, New York into a an upper-middle class family which lived on the outskirts. He was quite isolated from the outside world. A product of post World War II consumerism, Koerner attended the University of Minnesota, and shortly thereafter discovered the world of American folk and blues music. There was a thriving arts scene on campus, and Koerner joined the Bohemian atmosphere of painters, musicians and intellectuals. Before long, he was playing at local Minneapolis coffee houses like the Coffee Break and the 10'Clock Scholar with DAVE RAY and TONY GLOVER, and also BOB DYLAN. They were all big fans of blues and folk music, people like LEADBELLY, WOODY GUTHRIE, SKIP JAMES, SON HOUSE, BIG JOE WILLIAMS, etc. - and even invented colorful stage nicknames to emulate their heroes - "Spider" John Koerner, "Snaker" Dave Ray, and Tony "Little Sun" Glover. They were among the first white musicians to seize upon this vital music, and introduce it to a new audience. After some strong support from the publication The Little Sandy Review, Koerner, Ray and Glover made their first recordings, for Audiophile and then Elektra, in 1963. These records - "Blues, Rags and Hollers" and "Lots More Blues, Rags and Hollers" - inspired a host of musicians on both sides of the Atlantic, many a part of the British Invasion of the mid-1960s. Koerner was always drawn to characters in blues and folk songs that were ramblers, or travellers. And for much of his young life, he was on the road, gaining wider experience. This separated him from Dave and Tony, during extended stays in Boston. Not long after, another important longtime collaboration with WILLIE MURPHY began, Koerner's early records with Murphy - "Running, Jumping, Standing Still"(1969), and "Music is Just a Bunch of Notes"(1972) - were made at the height of the hippie movement and were a dramatic departure away from blues music, with some very elaborate arrangements played sometimes by a large band. Koerner married a Danish woman, quit music "forever" in 1972, and moved to Copenhagen. But after briefly enduring a boring job, decided to take up music again. He didn't want to play blues anymore. He didn't want to play his own compositions. Instead, he embraced the long and deep tradition of American folk music. For years, John played only traditional American folk songs, which helped bring these great compositions back to life. But they also inspired John a great deal, as he could relate to the themes in these songs. After his marriage broke up in the 1970s, Koerner moved back to Minneapolis. It was a slow time, and he lived in a tiny room on Minneapolis West Bank about a decade. During that time, he decided to amp up his approach to traditional music, adding Scotish and Irish elements into bigger bands. The results were heard on his 1986 release "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Been" from Red House Records. Page 4 A little later, Koerner made peace with some of his old songs and started to play them again, along with the traditional numbers. After a 15 year pause, he decided to write again, and "Summer of '88" was the first result - a magnum opus running 5 plus minutes - which Koerner said crammed 15 years of ideas into one song. Koerner always had an analytical mind, and liked to build or invent things. He built his own vacation cabin. Later, Koerner started to build boats. And in the documentary, you see a couple of his inventions - an ingenious harmonica holder which more effectively stays in place when he is performing, and an odd contraption he made to cut the lawn on his rustic property in Mora, Minnesota , the Billy Goat. Around this same time, Koerner also became fascinated with Astronomy, and was able to build numerous telescopes from basic raw materials. He studied the universe for many years. He married LAURA KOERNER in the 1990s. He seems at peace with himself. He has arrived at a fascinating mix of old blues and folk, his old compositions, and newer songs that are full of maturity - a mix of insight, humor and cosmic enlightenment. The late career songs, like the previously mentioned "Summer of 88" and "Last Lonesome Blues", provide powerful proof of that very special combination. When the documentary was in production, an enormous amount of musical performances were photographed, enabling quite a comprehensive access to all the different songs and different periods in Koerner's careeer. Luckily, many of the tunes performed featured the formative trio of KOERNER, RAY AND GLOVER. 6 months after these performances were shot, Dave Ray passed away. Understandably, this had quite a dramatic impact on the documentary, and the structure and focus had to be seriously re-considered. Some additional shooting made for maybe the most poignant sequence. In December of 2003, there was a Dave Ray Memorial at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis, which was also photographed. During this section, we hear how the classic Koerner, Ray and Glover tune "What's the Matter with the Mill?" sounds without Dave. Then we go back in time, and hear all three of them playing this classic. Koerner has not been the most prolific musician in the world. He made only 5 albums in a 25 year period. Yet, at the end of the documentary Koerner promises to get real busy soon. But the very special character and quality of his music cannot be rushed. He is a true American original, and this documentary gives a vital picture of this great artist. Page 5 "SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE . DONE THAT" About Producer/Director DON McGLYNN Don McGlynn is a veteran director who has made over 25 documentaries, many of them musical biographies. McGlynn was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and discovered the music of Spider John Koerner at a young age, and remained a fan for several decades. Like Koerner, McGlynn also became quite a world traveller. He lived in such other cities as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Copenhagen for long periods, and has also had extended stays in cities like Stockholm, Sweden, Poitier, France, and Perugia, Italy. His documentaries, however, have brought McGlynn, and his work, to a many more places all over the globe. He has conducted over 400 interviews, photographed in dozens of cities. His work has been shown in over 300 international film festivals, many which McGlynn has attended. His work has been either screened, broadcast or seen on home video in over 70 countries. His work has covered an enormously wide number of musical idioms - from opera to hip hop, Tin Pan Alley to techno, American folk music to jazz, comedy music to blues - plus an array of big band and popular music. The documentaries tend to emphasize either footage all newly shot (as was the case with the Spider John Koerner one), or a blend of carefully researched, pre-existing performance footage with new material. Many of these documentaries have been prize winners. Recently, THE HOWLIN' WOLF STORY won the prestigeous W.C Handy award, in Memphis, Tennessee, for "Keeping the Blues Alive". Most of these projects have been inspired, in part, by cities in which McGlynn has lived. SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE . DONE THAT has a special resonance for McGlynn, because it is a tribute to his birthplace - Minneapolis. A longtime fan of the Minnesota music scene in general, and with a particular fondness for the music of Koerner, McGlynn sees this as a sort of professional homecoming. Page 6 Here is a list of some of McGlynn's work: ART PEPPER: NOTES FROM A JAZZ SURVIVOR (1982) THE SOUNDIES (1986) THE MILLS BROTHERS STORY (1986) THE SPIKE JONES STORY (1988) GLENN MILLER: AMERICA'S MUSICAL HERO (1992) DEXTER GORDON: MORE THAN YOU KNOW (1996) CHARLES MINGUS: TRIUMPH OF THE UNDERDOG (1997) TECHNO: LOST IN BASS (1997) SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW: HAROLD ARLEN (1999) LOUIS PRIMA: THE WILDEST (1999) HORACE PARLAN BY HORACE PARLAN (2000) THE LEGEND OF TEDDY EDWARDS (2001) THE HOWLIN' WOLF STORY (2003) SPIDER JOHN KOERNER: BEEN HERE . DONE THAT (2005) More information about these documentaries can be found at - McGlynn is currently working on several projects, including one about the fabulous drummer ED THIGPEN.

The Cambridge River Festival

The Boston Herald: Monday 6/18/01 pg 40 , written by Daniel Gewertz

"The Cambridge River Festival has been alive and vital for 23 years, and Saturday this event held fast to its perceptive musical tastes and solid organization.

At the folk stage, Minnesota's Spider John Koerner had a sound remarkably similar to the ragtime-blues of his '60's prime. Telling corny jokes, shouting timeless lyrics, stomping out an infectious beat, Koerner was a juggernaut of joy. Chip Taylor Smith, Jim Reidy and especially one string bassist Robbie Phillips compounded the funky jubilation. To quote a song, they reached 'Way in the Middle of the Air.' Among the audience members was folk legend Jim Rooney."

courtesy of Jan Cornish


STARGEEZER TOUR UPDATE: October 27, 2000 Friday, Tallahassee, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, in concert at THE WAREHOUSE, 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. What a wonderful show to kick off the "StarGeezer's Tour". Alan Aunapu, the Skipper of Pete Seeger's "Clearwater", joined the tour to open and play in between sets. He did a fine opening set for John and Dave. The Warehouse is such a great intimate venue, it seemed absolutely perfect all the way around. Schef, the show sponsor, provided exceptional hospitality and took the Spider John, Dave Ray entourage to a wonderful sea food restaurant for dinner before the show. Ken Crawford, the producer of the Florida Folk Festival came, after the show he took everyone, who wanted to go, to a house in the woods for a fabulous after show party. Charlie Jirousek delivered to Spider John a beautiful 12 string guitar that he had converted from a rare old 6 string. It is the first new guitar that John has had in over 20 years!

October 29, Sunday, Cocoa Village, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at KOOL BEANZ COFFEEHOUSE, 8:00 P.M. Info Java John (407) 638-4855 or Kool Beanz Inc. CoffeeHouse. We were worried for a while whether or not this show was going to take place but at last what a special treat John and Dave provided. "The Boys" did a rare surprise guest set for the Saturday night crowd. Sunday, Spider John played his new 12 string for the very first time any place! It didn't even have a pick-up on it, a totally special acoustic experience of which we will never see again! The audience was awesomely impressed. Kudos to Allen for a great in-between set too.

November 02, Thrus., Fort Myers, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at the INDIGO ROOM, 8:00 P.M. Info Noah (941) 332-0014 - This two show side trip took the duo to the other side of the Everglades where they enjoyed outstanding hospitality and Florida sea food. The Indigo Room, a nifty club in an old brick building in the historic downtown section of Ft. Myers, provided an outstanding venue to experience the legendary twosome. Allan presented a full 45 minute in-between set of songs about his sailing adventures starting with the best "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" this side of Jim Croce. Several notable neighborhood bands showed up to take a lesson from the blues veterans and I'm sure they went away fulfilled as did the rest of the small but elite audience. The second set was as bluesy a set "The Boys" have presented thus far!

November 03, Friday, Fort Myers, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, benefit concert and astronomical ruminations at the CALUSA NATURE CENTER AND PLANETARIUM, doors open at 6:30 P.M., Video at 7:00 P.M., Concert at 8:00 P.M. Info Jill (941) 275-3435 - Quite possibly, no, absolutely the most unique venue to listen to a great acoustic show ever. Spider John and Snaker Ray under the dome of a wonderful planetarium at the edge of the Everglades in the Calusa Nature Center. Before the show hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and soda primed the audience as the out of print film "Blues, Rags & Hollers" about "Koerner, Ray & Glover" was presented outside in what couldn't have been better Florida weather. After this we all convened inside the planetarium as Allan Aunapu opened with fascinating songs and stories about the Calusa Indians and native habitat. Then the lucky crowd was treated to a fascinating 15 minute rumination about the stars according to "Spider" John. Just when everyone thought that it couldn't get any better Dave "Snaker" Ray stepped onto the stage and we all "BOOGIED!"

November 04, Saturday, Fort Lauderdale, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at the SOUND ADVICE BLUES FESTIVAL. Afternoon & Evening City Festivals - scheduleblue00.jpg - What a terrific festival this was! John and Dave did a "History of the Blues and Folk" work shop in the afternoon that was well attended. Several old friends of "The Boys" showed up unexpectedly to make the whole day very special and they tried extra hard to play good.The evening concert was filled to capacity, 300 or 400 people maybe, boy-o-boy, it was fun! Another treat of the festival was 87 year old "Pinetop Perkins" who followed "Spider John & Snaker Ray".

November 08, Wed., Deerfield Beach, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at DOOGIES JAZZ & BLUES CAFE, 8:00-12:00 P.M. Info (954) 428-6438 -If a tree falls deep in the woods and there isn't anybody around to hear it,does it still play the BLUES? You bet your ass it does, plus a lot of greatstuff you wouldn't hear otherwise!

November 09, Thurs., Lake Worth, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at the BAMBOO ROOM, 9:00 & 11:00 P.M.. Info (561) 585-BLUE (2583) or new index - - Perhaps the most beautiful blues club anywhere,it's certainly one of the duo's favorites and like "Monday Night Football" the boys always take it up a notch here. Spider John and Dave Snaker Ray played two terrific sets, both well over an hour long. Snaker Ray's repertoire seems to be endless and he sure pulled out several gems this night!

November 10, Friday, Coral Gables, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at the TITANIC MICRO-BREWERY (the old Flick!), 9:00 P.M. Info (305)667-2537. The Titanic Micro-Brewery and Restaurant, in the same room as the legendary old Flick. Where, back in the 1960s the likes of David Crosby, Judy Collins, Vince Martin, Fred Neil and other essential members of the folk revival played. Howwonderful it is to see first class folk music played here once again even if the arrangement of the room is not the most conducive for listening. A well installed house sound system could restore this old temple to the finest folk venue in South Florida. By the way, thanks to Bobby Ingram for bringing the sound system for this show. No matter how busy Bobby is he always goes beyond the call of duty to support folk music in the Miami area. Besides a superb 3 set show by Spider John and Snaker Ray this was an old fashioned hootenanny as Show maester John Brown delivered several tunesincluding an obscure one of Martin & Neil's. Allan Aunapu sang songs of his sailing adventures in the Islands and highways of South Florida, Ingram was going to sing when, alas, we ran out of time! Bobby is playing a few gigs around Miami so if you get a chance, be sure to see him.

November 11, 12, Sat. & Sunday, Key West, Spider John Koerner & Dave Snaker Ray, perform at THE GREEN PARROT BAR, Sat. 5:00 - 8:00 P.M., Sun. 8:00 -11:00. Info John (305) 294-6133. This tour, from Tallahassee to its climaxin' folkie old Key West where the boys let it all hang out, has been a coast to coast party for all who came along and one hell of a good time at each stop along the way! Yes, Spider John and Snaker Ray lived up to their reputation, the real thing, the life style and the blues. They are genuine folk artists predating the folk revival. Perhaps the defining moment of this tour, maybe even their legendary career, came here on a sail arranged by Gary Zimmerman aboard the schooner The Western Union when we all witnessed the rarephenomenon at the instant of sunset called, *The Green Flash!

*The Green Flash Sunlight contains all the colors of the rainbow. These colors blend to form white light, and so sunlight is white. But at times, some of the colors become scattered. We see only the remaining colors, and the sunlight appears colored. For example, when the sun appears high in the sky, some of the bluelight rays are scattered in the earth's atmosphere. At such times, the skylooks blue and the sun appears to be yellow. At sunrise or sunset, the sunis near the horizon and the light must follow a longer path through the earth's atmosphere. As a result, more of the blue and green rays are scattered in the atmosphere, and the sun looks red. On rare occasions, the sun may look bright green for a moment when only an edge is visible above the horizon. This green flash occurs because the red rays of light are hidden below the horizon and the blue rays are scattered in the atmosphere.

[updates courtesy Jim Higgins]