Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Karel Bogard & Co - 1971 - Blues From Over The Border

Karel Bogard & Co 
Blues From Over The Border 


01. Brownsferry Blues
02. Done Lived With The Blues
03. Morning Sun 132
04. Don't You Leave Me Alone
05. I.C. Blues
06. Crumble's Farm   
07. Rollin' Blues
08. Me And The Devil
09. Bukkha White Is Not Dead
10. Danny's Tune
11. See See Rider
12. Tennessee Rag
13. Crowley Two-Step

Karel Bogard - Lead Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Kazoo, Mandolin, Piano
Bottleneck Chris - Acoustic Guitar, National Slide Guitar, Vocals
Roland Van Campenhout - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Flute, Harmonica
Roger Mason - Accordion, Spoons, Triangle, Vocals
Derroll Adams - Banjo

Bogard is sometimes referred to as Karel Bogaert, and the first tenuous thread connected to the latter name is that someone using that moniker authored a book called Blues Lexicon: Blues, Cajun, Boogie Woogie, Gospel that was published in 1971 by Antwerp publishing house Standaard Uitgeverij. The book remains a popular overview to this day of exactly the strains of music Bogard covers so well on the album and is even considered as canon by some European academics due to the thorough and comprehensive biographical data of hundreds of American folk musicians included therein. Currently it's cited as one of the main references on the Dutch Wikipedia entry for Blues.

The following info is from Belgian Pop & Rock Archives, translated from Dutch by Google and edited by yours truly:

    In the late sixties Karel Bogard was proficient in various instruments, playing in Leuven (he sang, played guitar, piano, and even a hundred others) in various blues, skiffle and jugbands, like Free Sound Community en Crowin Rooster.

    After graduation he went to Paris to study Chinese but while in the French capital, he kept himself busy in musical circles. Through contacts with Alexis Corner (Bogard was playing in his band at the time) and Memphis Slim he struck a deal with the French label Barclay. The LP "Blues from over the Border" appeared in France in 1971, including Roland van Campenhout and other guests.

    In the mid-seventies in Ghent he started his own record label: Dwarf Records. Originally created solely to issue the Kandahar LP, Bogard he soon found a number of kindred souls so in a short time the label also included Banzaï, Tjens Couter and TC Matic from Arno.

    "In the years '70-'75 Ghent was a hive of activity," he said in the book "Wit-lof from Belgium," and jazz musician Pol Van Gijseghem was involved in various projects. There emerged an interaction with many groups: Bunker, Quark, Red Mole .. etc.. Rock and jazz had found each other." Karel Bogard thus became one of the main figures of jazz-rock in Belgium (Hugo Spencer, 5th Ball Gang, Marc Moulin, Placebo, Sam Suffy). Bogard's main project in these years was Kandahar, with guitarist Jef De Visscher and Pol Van Gijseghem, who released two LP's in the blues/jazz/rock idiom.

    Simultaneously, he also recorded solo (the LP "From Dusk until Dawn" in 1975) or combined forces with other companions as The Karel Bogard Blues Band in 1976 with "Still Hooked On The Blues" and as Karel Bogard's Highway Band in 1977 with "Step," featuring the single "Sweet Lady Society".

    Dwarf went bankrupt, however, and was swallowed by E.M.I./ I.B.C. (with whom they already had a distribution deal). This marked the end of Kandahar and a bitter Bogard quit music, combining his studies in engineering and oriental languages to land a job with a dredging company in Singapore.

When in Singapore, he likely worked for one of the two Belgian dredging companies doing business there, Dredging International or Baggerwerken Decloedt, which have since merged and now operate under the name Dredging, Environmental & Marine Engineering. In 1997 he was the President of the Belgian & Luxembourg Association of Singapore , a social club for expats and he seems to have returned to Europe at the turn of the century, serving on the board of directors from 2001-2007 for Dutch environmental product company PMV. Other than that, there is no reference to any further musical projects with the participation of Mr. Bagard/Bogaert.

Which is a shame really, since his obvious passion and talent for music seem to have borne the brunt of his distaste at "the biz" and an older, wiser, worldly Karel would likely bring the depth of his experience to his lyrics. Roughly in his 60s, these days he would probably more clearly exude the blues feeling beyond the note-perfect execution of its stylistic idioms. Although it was obvious Karel felt the blues on this recording, it doesn't necessary follow that the listener will feel his blues.

For a student of the African-American roots music techniques this document may be almost as valuable as original field recordings from the early part of the century (which Bogard had obviously pored over himself). For purists who demand their blues artists be directly from the delta (or at the very least Chicago), this will be anathema. For casual listeners who don't care much about the "who" or "when" or "what" when it comes to their blues, they'll likely enjoy the "how" displayed here by Bogard and his companions, mostly because Karel and companions so obviously enjoyed themselves while recording.

Blues From Across the Border seems to have steadily increased in price until it maxed out in value in 2007 - Popsike gives eBay auction results of 45€ in 2003, 80€ in 2006 with prices ranging from 100€ to 200€ in 2007 on eBay and at various online record stores. Since then, it seems to have dropped with most pricing reverting back the 40€ to 80€ range.

1 comment:

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