Melding of the Grooves


Melding of the Grooves

Like tributaries coming together to feed the Big Muddy, the grooves in the fertile delta around New Orleans as well as the rest of the US blended, making a soul moving music that was a little bit of a lot of different cultures. Eric Hord was a moving target if anyone tried to pin him down to style of playing. He could play anything. But in the early sixties, Rock Grooves and Folk Grooves did not coexist pleasantly. Folk musicians were tempted to pick up the beat a little bit to get some excitement going, but if they got too aggressive there was always some critic in the audience who wanted their traditional folk singer to behave,

“Sell Out!”

They would shout at the troubadour if he stepped out of his designated mellow mode to try something in a more raucous groove.

This happened once with Tim Buckley in San Francisco at the Boarding House on the first night of my first tour with him. It hurt Tim immensely. But he continued to develop a style that changed music. Eric Hord came from folk music and his stint with the Mamas and Papas was pivotal in introducing folk music to the wider audience of pop music. For the Folkies to play a folk song without a group was based on certain rhythmic grooves strummed or picked on folk guitar; four or three beat patterns that did not have too much syncopation. There were lilting three quarter waltz patterns that were part of every culture, slow six beat patterns that came to be called the Blues. These had worked for centuries in the traditional folk ballads from Europe and Africa, South America, and Native American. But by changing the writing style from their traditional acoustical folk grooves and using an electric guitar, the M’s and P’s invented Folk Rock along with a bunch of other pickers from the Folkie world.

The back up musicians had to make it work. Eric and the armies of backup players had to come up with grooves, tempos, signature licks, hooks and intros for this new form of music that had not only great lyrics and melodies but also had a political impact. Good stuff. The anonymous players on the records in all the studios from LA to New York and London were melding grooves from different ethnicities like tributaries in a great flow of consciousness bringing everyone into a state of heightened egalite.

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