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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I do NOT want to hear Adam Carolla's jazz stylings 


For a different take:


"Who doesn't like the sound of a mandolin?" David Lee Roth says. "Who doesn't like a well-played acoustic guitar?"

At the moment, the bigger question may center around how many people will like the sound of a mandolin and a well-played acoustic guitar on bluegrass versions of Van Halen songs. That's the entire point of the new CD, Strummin' With the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen.

Backed by a bluegrass band led by multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson, the singer known as Diamond Dave recorded new versions of two Van Halen classics -- "Jump" and "Jamie's Cryin'" -- for the CD released by CMH Records. Other tracks include the "Runnin' With the Devil" by the John Cowan Band, "Dance the Night Away" by Mountain Heart, "Hot for Teacher" by David Grisman and Sons, "Could This Be Magic?" by the Nashville Bluegrass Band and "I'll Wait" by Blue Highway....

Roth's venture into bluegrass music may appear to be an artistic stretch, but he's also the guy who had a major solo hit in 1985 by channeling the spirit of the late New Orleans/Las Vegas entertainer Louis Prima on a medley of "Just a Gigolo" and "I Ain't Got Nobody."...

Born in Indiana, Roth was a child when he began spending his summers with his uncle, Manny Roth, who owned the Café Wha? nightclub in New York's Greenwich Village. Recalling the club in the early '60s, Roth says, "It was only acoustic music. Several things were convergent at the time. You had folk music -- the New Christie Minstrels, etc. You had whole lot of world music -- steel drummers and sitar players. Then you had psychedelia. Rock was very much coming into play in the shape of the great blues revival of the '60s."...

The song structure of Van Halen's material lends itself to a wide variety of interpretations, including bluegrass, Roth suggests.

"It's classic Americana songwriting," he says. "That's the way my verses and titles are set up. 'You might as well jump.' Doesn't that sound like Bob Wills to you?"

Noting that the bluegrass album was his idea, Roth says, "My thought was what would be a great way to do a Van Halen tribute album. To have other [rock musicians] do it? Predictable. To just play it on acoustic guitars the way it is already on the record? Double predictable? Just to ferret it out to all different kinds of musicians? Been there, done that."

In revamping the music, Roth says, "If the material is already familiar, when you change the medium -- hopefully, if you do it right -- then you not only take the music past where you found it, but you begin to find out things about the music that you didn't know before." Key to the project was to avoid making fun of Van Halen and/or bluegrass music. "The humor is innate in this music," he says. "The temptation is to have a little too much 'yuk yuk' with it."



If you want to judge the results, just listen. (HT Analog Industries.)



After hearing the rendition of "Jump," I can say that the bluegrass version is just as good as the rock version. Actually, the bluegrass version is tons better - the song is just as bad (I like Van Halen songs, just not this one), but at least this way I don't have to sit through Eddie's excruciatingly meaningless guitar and keyboard solos.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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