Spider John Koerner
Broward Folk Club Featured Performer
Your Big Picture Café, Davie, FL – 03/02/12
Spider John Koerner (www.mwt.net/~koerner) can not die. But more about that later. For now, focus on the fact that no one gets out of second grade without baggage. Not me. Not you. Not the President. Not God. It’s that universal. The only difference is that when you and I open up our baggage, a whole bunch of mommy-daddy, boyfriend-girlfriend, spouse-children, work-money, so-on and so-on issues fall out. However, when Spider John Koerner opens up his baggage, the whole history of American music falls out. And last night, the musical baggage was flying around Your Big Picture Café as if a gorilla was unloading a bunch of American Tourister luggage (www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2ZeIoLz8FE).
Spider John’s musical genius lies in the depth and breadth of great 19th and 20th century traditional American music which lays at his fingertips, with each song he plays conjuring up other great recording artists from this and bygone eras. Opening with Careless Love, out popped memories of Bessie Smith, Big Joe Turner, Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, Dave Van Ronk, and Odetta. From there, Spider John fired up Stewball The Race Horse (a traditional American ballad based upon the famous racehorse Skewball born in 1741 to Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin) with all of its ties to Lead Belly, The Weavers, Lonnie Donegan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Mason Proffit and Joan Baez. He then followed this with the traditional Acres Of Clams which harks back to Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Ivar Haglund.
Playing his second-hand Epihpone 12-string acoustic guitar, and accompanied by Richie Goldman (www.richiegoldmanbass.com) on a Palatino electric upright bass, the duo went on to perform a two-set, nineteen song show with included covers of St. James Infirmary, Goodnight Irene, and Midnight Special. In addition they performed many of Spider John’s original works, including Last Lonesome Blues, Phoebe, and the title track from his album Running, Jumping, Standing Still (Elektra, 1967) which he originally recorded with Willie Murphy. By the time is was all over, the history of American music was thoroughly unpacked and heard throughout the entire café.
We all gather baggage throughout our lives, and when we go it is that warehouse of memories by which others eulogize, and sing our praise. But given the compendium of musical history stashed away in his brains, there is only one person qualified to sing the final praises of Spider John Koerner, and that’s Spider John himself. And we all know you can’t be in two places at once, so he’ll just have to live on. In the meantime, if you missed him last night as the Broward Folk Club’s featured performer, get yourself down to Luna Star Café (www.LunaStarCafe.com) on Sunday, March 11th at 8:00 p.m. to see this living legend live. And you can leave your baggage at home. Spider John Koerner has plenty of it for everyone to enjoy.