3314: Dan DelSanto – “White Feathers in the Coop”
SIDE ONE –
FROM GREENVILLE TO RICHMOND – see the last tune.
THE C.M. JORDAN BLUES – I ran across the guitar this song is played on while employed at a state institution for the mentally retarded. It was padlocked in its case and had been there since the owner, C.M. Jordan, died of diabetes six months previous. When the lock was hack-sawed off, I picked up the guitar and played this through in its entirety… I figure C.M. is more or less responsible for the song.
LAS PALOMITAS – Written after hitting a Mexican bar of the same name in Austin… I believe it means “little doves”. The lead line should actually be played by the guy who played trumpet in the bar band.
CHAIN SAW BLUES – This song came the day I heard that King Curtis had been murdered.
DROP IT IN THE BUCKET, AND… – I’ll leave this one up to you.
UNDERDOG RAG – Could also be called “The Story of my Life (thus far) Rag.”
ROBERTA – Written quite a few years ago about my wife, Christine Roberta DelSanto.
BIG JAKE’S BLUES – I wrote this one for two Jakes… Shakey Jake, the harmonica player, and my dog… both very bluesy guys.
PINE TREE RAG – For my favorite ladders and perches.
FRIGIDAIRE SONG – A musical journey through the ice box.
SIDE TWO –
CHURCH STREET RACES – The street that I lived on for quite a few years was changed to one-way after a long life of being a two-way street. The result was a legal drag-strip and I wrote this while sitting on the front porch watching.
A LULLABYE – Just that… a lullabye. Written in the presence of my mother, and what better place for a lullabye?
THE DEVIL’S SHUFFLE – Up from the pit.
DEAD MEAT – A story of life and death in Babylon.
QUASHA’S JIG – In memory of Quasha… R.I.P.
THE LAST SUNSET – Written while driving West into an awe-inspiring sunset.
LOST IN LIMBO – Is exactly what this haunting little melody was for years. It has drifted in and out of my memory, haunting me like some form of lost love for a long time now. It came back while recording this album.
WHITE FEATHERS IN THE COOP – Especially for Wilbur Smith (and his delicious fried chicken), owner of Smitty’s Bar & Hotel. My stomping ground for a lot of years. Smitty would always fry us up some chicken as part of the pay for playing at his bar. His look-you-straight-in-the-eye, no bullshit approach to life started a lasting friendship between the two of us.
I’VE BEEN SCUFFLIN’ – Another friendship.
FROM RICHMOND TO GREENVILLE – For Pete, in appreciation of his untiring work in Piedmont blues field-work.
This record is respectfully dedicated to Wilbur (Smitty) Smith and Eddie Kirkland, two men who have given my life and music a lot of the directions I was already headed in.
Dan DelSanto (1976) Poughkeepsie, NY
Dan DelSanto grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY, the son of a school bus driver who also played the mandolin. Early in his career he became interested in and influenced by folk music, including bluegrass. When I first met him in the early seventies, he led a band called The Arm Brothers which featured himself on guitar, Evan Stover on fiddle, Timmy Duran on mandolin, and Jerry Oland on banjo. Various musicians, Iocal and otherwise, were in and out of the band over the years. Their mix of bluegrass, country/western and rock ‘n’ roll made them one of the most sought-after bands in the area. One of their main venues was Smitty’s, a place in the Shawangunk Mountains outside New Paltz, NY. Since Smitty loved their music, he invited the band to play there anytime they wanted.
In 1972, I brought some blues artists to New Paltz to play at the college Spring Weekend. Larry Johnson came up from New York City, Baby Tate from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Eddie Kirkland from Macon, Georgia. I put Eddie together with Dan and his band and the chemistry was fantastic. Eddie and Dan’s band rehearsed for the gig and later recorded the sessions that became Eddie’s second Trix album (TRIX 3308 – “The Devil [& other blues demons”]).
Dan and I had often talked about doing something, so we organized the sessions which produced this material. It was an attempt at a Leo Kottke or John Fahey (guitar player) type release, but was pure DeISanto (or at least one facet of DelSanto). The gigs with Kirkland got Dan listening more to black musical forms. He moved to Austin, Texas and formed his group The Professors of Pleasure. Working as a DJ on Austin public radio and as a musical mission, DelSanto created World Beat long before it surfaced in San Francisco. His absorption of black music genres was remarkable – so much so that he was one of the two Americans permitted to play on-stage with Fela Kuti on his first American tour! Three albums of Dan’s eclectic music were released on his Pleasure Records label.
It has been many years since I last saw Dan DelSanto in New York City in a recording studio. Even his long-time friend and fiddle player, Evan Stover has not seen or heard from him for years. I hope that Dan in OK – I miss him and our conversations about music of all kinds. This solo album, featuring his first recordings, displays but a part of his great talent. Dedicated, in part, to Smitty and Kirkland (they are the two brandishing guns on the cover), here is the gently intense DelSanto, an acoustic treat.
Peter B. Lowry (1996) CD release Cottekill, NY
Dan was my good friend while he lived in Poughkeepsie – the only person who was as musically focused a nut as I! I think that I opened up the worlds of African American music to him and he appreciated my knowledge and interests. When he got to Austin, his musical horizons exploded, but he had trouble making a legitimate living playing only music. So eventually he turned to illegitimate/illegal means.
Involvement in the marijuana trade eventually caught up with him (hardly hidden – one of his Professors of Pleasure albums had a photo of Dan in a huge field of pot!). He was left with two alternatives that he could not accept: go to jail, or roll over on his confreres in the business. He did neither, but fled to Mexico. Dan was obviously not a big enough fish for the Feds to chase after and extradite and so he stayed there, fathering a couple of kids and playing music as “The Blues Demon”, probably in honor of Eddie Kirkland’s album (Trix 3308) on which he played.
I heard bits and pieces from Evan Stover, the fiddle player from Kingston, NY with whom he had The Arm Brothers band, and later, after-the-fact, from Terry Lickona in Austin. His health deteriorated and, had he been in the States, he would have been able to get decent medical help and live. Not so in Mexico and so he died a federal fugitive there in Oaxaca of esophageal and other internal bleeding in 2001 at the age of fifty, another “small fish” victim of the useless, but politically directed, “U.S. war on drugs” [see: http://www.narconews.com/gotlieb1.html for more on that subject and Dan’s demise.]
Art of any kind is a cruel mistress in the U.S. of A. Especially when it shouts out against the status quo and tells the truth, as he did in his more recent albums (e.g. – “Off Your Nyash”: Flying Fish 70551 – 1990). Truth-telling is not very popular in the US, especially when cushioned by African and African American based music. His later work is far from bluegrass or C&W, but is always righteous. Truly, another man done gone… a good man.
This album was recorded over four recording sessions (1974-1976) done at my home studio in Cottekill, NY on my 4-track Revox.
Peter B. Lowry (2012) Sydney