A's to March Q's - Part II
4/3/2006 (updated 4/3/2006)

Hi - without wishing to be overly obscure, I was listening to the RT box set (great stuff...) and was reminded of the mini-tour with the Albion Dance Band Mk2 (?), and a gig they did at Manchester Poly in Oct 72 or thereabouts. Among many delights that evening (along with Simon playing occasional drums), I can remember a song about a gunfighter ("Don't Make it 54"... what happened to that?) and Run Run Rudolph (Christmas was only 2 and half months away...), but was there also a version of a Left Banke (or Michael Browne at least) song too?

I remember that gig very well. It was a time when the Albion Band was in a rather fractured state, and Linda and I were asked to join for a few outstanding bookings – I think it was three shows. Dave Mattacks quit just before the Manchester show, so Simon and I played drums on a few items! The band was myself, Linda. Ashley, Simon, and Sue Draheim. ‘Don’t Make It ‘54’ was a song Ashley found about John Wesley Harding – I don’t remember the singer. The Left Banke song could have been ‘She May Call You Up Tonight’ or ‘Pretty Ballerina’ or ‘Walk Away Renee’.

A trivial one, I know, but who did the Scots accents in the dialogue in ‘Smiffy’s Glass Eye’

That was Linda, varispeeded up and down to sound like two different people. Although she is a Sassenach, born in Hackney, she was raised in Glasgow, and I trust her accent passes muster.

Leah, my 4 year old daughter and I have been enjoying the new 5-CD box set. What better a way to teach her about hydrofoils, carrier pigeons, Helen Keller and other important topics. However, we have been stumped in your song about Alexander Graham Bell by a reference to his writing a book for kids. Naturally, Leah wanted to know about the book and where we could get it. So we headed off to our local library (The Providence Athenaeum, the 4th oldest library in the country, and not far from Lupo’s) to do some sleuthing. Finding nothing in their catalogue, we enlisted the help of the local librarian who after a while also pronounced herself stumped. But on the internet we did find the AGB Foundation in Cape Breton, Canada, and wrote to them. They replied:

“The song could be referring to one of two books Bell wrote. As you may know, Bell began his career teaching speech to deaf children. One of his first private pupils was a little boy named Georgie Saunders, and to help Georgie learn to speak "naturally" he wrote a reader for him. The book had pictures cut from magazines and text Bell wrote himself, and the size of the text increased and decreased according to how much emphasis the speaker was to place on a particular word or phrase. I believe he used this reader with other students as well.

Later on in his life, when he was a grandfather, he was a great advocate of learning by doing, and in fact the first Montessori school in Canada was on his estate here in Nova Scotia. He became interested in having his grandson do some simple science experiments to learn basic scientific principles, and he compiled a few of them into a booklet that was published in the Volta Review, a publication from the American Association for the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (now called the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing).

So I'm not sure which book the songwriter was referring to, but he definitely had his facts straight!”

So, RT, to put it simply, our question for you:

Thompson Richard, guitarist
Might find employ as a glossarist
Mentions of Bell's book for kids
Left his fans on the skids
Was it the book for Georgie?
Or the one for Montessori?
For curious minds, pray do tell
Which kiddies book by Graham Bell?

And while I’m at it, when are we going to see you put out that album for kids?

You’ve done your research very well
On Alexander Graham Bell
I never dreamed my rustic hay
Would cause a round of Q and A
But my A replying to your Q
Is – it’s the one in the Volta Review!
To bring his grandson’s mind to heel
(it later had a wider appeal)
To nurture his tender mind over matter
And give a leg-up on the science ladder
He wrote it for his youngest kin
That haltingly he might begin
To follow academically
In the hallowed steps of AGB!
(And the kiddie’s album – what a chore –
I’ve got eight songs – I need four more)

Greetings from NYC. I was just reading about the Buzz Feiten Tuning system - essentially tempered tuning for guitar and wondered if you have tried it out and if so what you thought. Thanks!

I was mentioning this in answers to February’s questions. If you play in standard tuning, it resolves the main tuning dilemma on the guitar, which is, making some of the thirds in the chords sound in tune, e.g. getting a C major chord and an A major chord both in tune, and F major and a D major. On the trombone, it is easy to pull the thirds in a bit. Pianos have a compromised, ‘tempered’ tuning. (Interestingly, when George Shearing had his Quintet, he worked out a special piano tuning so that he could be more in tune with the vibraphone). If you use open tuning, the advantages are less, and there are some disadvantages. Buzz’s method is, however, a well-considered system, and I would recommend checking it out to see if it’s something you need.

Is there any chance you will be coming to Madrid to play? That would be a dream come true. I’ve read somewhere that you played with Rory Gallagher (whom I absolutely love). Is there any recording? Any particular memories for a diehard fan? .

I would love to play more in Spain – I’ve only performed there once, at the Seville Guitar Festival. It needs some promoter to ask me, really.

Rory Gallagher was the nicest man. I only worked with him once. We did one of those Legends Of The Guitar-type shows back in the early eighties, with Juan Martin and I think David Lindley, at the Dominion (?) Theatre in London. I don’t know of any recording. I knew him slightly from the sixties, when we would often be on the bill with Taste. He was an absolute gentleman, and a fine, dedicated blues musician.

What model of Divided 13 amp do you use?

I think it’s an FTR 37….anyway, it's the bee's knees.