Transatlantic Sessions series 7?

I read a few weeks ago in a year-old interview with Jerry Douglas that a new series of Transatlantic Sessions was to be recorded in October of last year, so I’m hoping that did happen and that a new series will appear this year.

In the six BBC Scotland series to date – released irregularly in 1995, 1998, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 – there are twenty-one hours of some of the finest music I’ve heard and seen. It’s by far the best-produced live music series of the many I’ve watched. Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain are the musical directors for all six series; their names guarantee the quality of the finished product.

All six series of Transatlantic Sessions are available on DVD, often for around US$20 a series on eBay – cheap at twice that price if you ask me. Make sure it says region 1 or 0 if you’re in the US. You won’t be able to play UK-produced region 2 discs unless you have an all-region player like me. I would avoid the PBS-released version because it’s a short compilation.

If I included all my favourites below, you’d be scrolling through to the day after tomorrow, so I’ll show just a handful. Okay, a baker’s dozen. These tunes are all from series 3, 4, and 5 – in my opinion, the best of the six series.

Considering the fact that most of the musicians in the series work together infrequently if at all, and that most tunes took just three or four attempts before they captured the version released, the comments below by Bain and Douglas in the “making of” documentary included in the series 3 DVDs are a bit boggling, but not really surprising given the extreme level of professionalism that permeates everyone involved.

Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain

Aly Bain: “We don’t know lots of the music that’s being played, so in actual fact, we’re doing, sometimes, five recordings in a day and we don’t know any of them.”
Jerry Douglas: “And that’s with everybody learning – cameramen learning, sound people, musicians, everybody. We’re a little rehearsed; we’re not completely unrehearsed, but we’d like to leave some of the bark on the tree. We don’t want it to be so rehearsed that it sounds like a record you can go buy and hear anywhere else.”
Bain: “No, we’re only about ten percent rehearsed on a lot if it.”

(Yes, it is Tyminski’s voice when Clooney sings this in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”)

Not even a full Blu-ray data disc yet

I changed my mind and decided to capture music videotapes first, which is a blast. I’ve captured about a third of them – results so far at the end of this post – and I think they’ll total about 60GB by the time I’m done. That’s a little less than three Blu-ray data discs, which are 22GB each, to digitise forty or fifty videotapes.

I’m finding that most of the tapes I recorded have a bit of a greenish tint, but a 12-point boost in the capture software’s hue setting takes care of that perfectly:

I have a bunch of old cassette tapes I’d also like to digitise and then discard, mostly live recordings directly from soundboards at bluegrass festivals and such, none of which I’ve seen on the bootleg trading circuit. There’s a US$15 USB cassette deck – of course there is, right? – that’s only a little bigger than a tape, so that arrives from Amazon Prime on Sunday. The free Audacity analog-to-digital capture and editing software will make short work of those.

+—Austin City Limits
¦ 0904 The Whites, New Grass Revival 1983.mp4
¦ 1009 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Goodman 1983.mp4
¦ 1101 Nanci Griffith 1985.mp4
¦ 1108 Kate Wolf 1986.mp4
¦ 1208 Chet Atkins & Friends 1986.mp4
¦ 1301 The O’Kanes 1988.mp4
¦ 1308 Loudon Wainwright III 1988.mp4
¦ 1311 New Grass Revival 1988.mp4
¦ 1314 Leo Kottke 1988.mp4
¦ 1410 Robert Earl Keen, Jr. 1989.mp4
¦ 1607 Bluegrass Superstars 1991.mp4
¦ 1802 Leo Kottke 1993.mp4
¦ 1803 Riders in the Sky, Hot Rize 1993.mp4
¦ Austin City Limits Episode Guide.txt
+—Nanci Griffith
¦ A Voice from the Heartland – VH1 1988.mp4
¦ Austin City Limits 1101 Mar 1985.mp4
¦ I Knew Love Music Video.mp4
¦ It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go Music Video.mp4
¦ Lonesome Pine Specials 110 Nanci Griffith.mp4
¦ Nashville Now – Apr 1986.mp4
¦ Nashville Now – Dec 1989.mp4
¦ Nashville Now – Feb 1988.mp4
¦ New Country – Little Love Affairs (1988).mp4
¦ New Country – Lone Star State of Mind (Feb 1987).mp4
¦ New Country – Once in a Very Blue Moon (Jul 1985).mp4
¦ New Country – The Last of the True Believers (Apr 1986).mp4
¦ One Fair Summer Evening 1988.mp4
¦ Flecktones – Tonight Show 10-04-90.mp4
¦ Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers Central Sun
¦   Video 1986.mp4
¦ Miscellaneous Music 1.jpg
¦ Miscellaneous Music 1.mp4
¦ Miscellaneous Music 2.jpg
¦ Miscellaneous Music 2.mp4
¦ Miscellaneous Music 3.jpg
¦ Miscellaneous Music 3.mp4
¦ Tony Trischka & Skyline Live in Japan 1983 Cover.jpg
¦ Tony Trischka & Skyline Live in Japan 1983 Set list.jpg
¦ Tony Trischka & Skyline Live in Japan 1983.mp4
+—The Lonesome Pine Specials
106 Maura O’Connell and Guests.mp4
110 Nanci Griffith.mp4
111 Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.mp4
113 New Grass Revival.mp4
116 The Nashville Allstars with Peter Rowan.mp4
118 The O’Kanes.mp4
122 Bela Fleck with the Blair String Quartet and The Flecktones.mp4
125 Moloney, O’Connell & Keane.mp4
201 Mando Magnificat.mp4
204 Christine Lavin and the Rounder Records Allstar Bluegrass Band.mp4
210 Strength in Numbers.mp4
The Lonesome Pine Specials Episode Guide.txt


Tony Trischka & Skyline Live in Japan (1983)

I’m loving this US$23 video capture thingamabob.

25-song performance by Tony Trischka & Skyline at Mido Kaikan in Osaka, Japan on 21 November 1983. Four or five years after it was released in Japan and then went out of print, I serendipitously got my hands on what I think might have been the last copy of this tape in the US. Happy days!

SET 1:
1. Vanished/Don’t Cry Tex
2. Drunken Fiddler
3. Wishful Thinking
4. Shiloh
5. Heart Needs a Home
6. True Life Blues
7. Frostbite
8. Just Pretend
9. Child’s Play
10. Stranded in the Moonlight
11. Steam
12. Late to Work

SET 2:
1. Purchase Grover
2. Lifeline
3. Whoa Me
4. Shenandoah Valley Breakdown
5. Heartbroke
6. Pour Tessa
7. I Can’t Believe
8. Man in the Middle
9. Weary Cowboy
10. Elbow Room
11. Ticket Back
12. Kentucky Bullfight
13. Limehouse Blues

Ray Noble is resting comfortably

By that I mean I don’t think he’d start rotating at 78 rpm in his grave on hearing this, which I just listened to. It’s still one of my all-time favourite tunes, and the best cover of Noble’s big band classic “Cherokee” I’ve ever heard. Recorded live by the Cache Valley Drifters at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica in the early 1980s and carefully ripped from my now-rare copy of their long out-of-print “Tools of the Trade” LP, which was never re-released digitally.

You can hear – and indeed download – Ray Noble’s original here.