Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dorris Henderson And John Renbourn - 1965 - There You Go!

Dorris Henderson And John Renbourn 
There You Go!

01. Sally Free And Easy 3:56
02. Single Girl 2:30
03. Ribbon Bow 1:28
04. Cotton Eyed Joe 2:16
05. Mr Tambourine Man 3:47
06. Mist On The Mountain 1:46
07. The Lag's Song 2:34
08. American Jail Song 2:42
09. The Water Is Wide 2:42
10. Something Lonesome 2:09
11. Song (Falling Star) 2:04
12. Winter Is Gone 2:51
13. Strange Lullaby 1:49
14. You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond 3:17
15. One Morning In May 2:24
16. A Banjo Tune 3:07
17. Going To Memphis 3:09

1965 Columbia Single:
18. Hangman 2:32
19. Leaves That Are Green 2:18

Guitar, Backing Vocals – John Renbourn
Vocals – Dorris Henderson

Dorris Henderson cut an unforgettable figure on the emergent British folk-music scene of the mid-1960s. Vivacious and mini-skirted, she had a rich voice and a richer personality. The sight of a wisecracking autoharp-playing black American made a lively impact on the burgeoning UK folk movement; and her musical partnership with John Renbourn helped launch his reputation and career as one of the generation's most exciting guitarists.

Dorris Henderson, singer: born Lakeland, Florida 1933; married Mac McGann (one son, two daughters); died London 3 March 2005.

Dorris Henderson cut an unforgettable figure on the emergent British folk-music scene of the mid-1960s. Vivacious and mini-skirted, she had a rich voice and a richer personality. The sight of a wisecracking autoharp-playing black American made a lively impact on the burgeoning UK folk movement; and her musical partnership with John Renbourn helped launch his reputation and career as one of the generation's most exciting guitarists.

She steadfastly refused to conform to expectations, rejecting the blues and spirituals expected of black singers of the time in favour of traditional folk song and the bold contemporary songs of young writers like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. She even joined one of the folk-rock bands of the day, Eclection, and played the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969 with, among others, Bob Dylan.

The daughter of a clergyman and the granddaughter of a pure Blackfoot Indian, Dorris Henderson was born in Lakeland, Florida, but raised in Los Angeles. She started working for the civil service but seeing the iconic folk-blues singer Odetta perform one night at the Ash Grove in LA changed her life.

She became a regular at the jazz clubs on Sunset Boulevard, where she saw many of the greats like Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and Carmen McCrae and, armed with an autoharp and a copy of Alan Lomax's songbook The Folk Songs of North America, started performing herself.

Singing at a healthfood restaurant at Topanga Canyon, one day she met the left-field comedian/raconteur/poet Lord Buckley, who invited her to join him on stage at a series of shows in Hollywood. She ended up singing "Rock of Ages" while Buckley performed his classic "The Nazz" party piece on a live album and dubbed her "The Lady Dorris".

Henderson decided to embark on a full-time singing career, and arrived in New York at the time of the Greenwich Village folk boom. She became friends with most of the main movers and shakers of the period, including Dave Van Ronk, Fred Neil, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. She appeared briefly in the notorious 1967 Dylan film Don't Look Back and recorded one of the first Paul Simon covers with the single "Leaves That Are Green".

Encouraged by her brother serving in England in the air force, she decided on a whim to come to London. She didn't know a soul but stayed at a hostel in Hampstead and wound up at the Earl's Court folk club the Troubadour. One guest spot playing Appalachian ballads on her autoharp and she was on her way. Gigs followed and she became resident on a new BBC2 television show, Gadzooks! It's All Happening, whose guests included Tom Jones, Lulu, Sandie Shaw and many other pop stars of the day.

One night at the Roundhouse pub in Soho she met a young guitarist, John Renbourn, and invited him to be her accompanist. They recorded two albums together, There You Go (1965) - which included a cover of Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" and Cyril Tawney's "Sally Free and Easy" - and Watch the Stars (1967), with a stirring version of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child".

The partnership with Renbourn fizzled out as he went on to develop a groundbreaking partnership with another brilliant guitarist, Bert Jansch, before they both launched the internationally successful Pentangle. Instead, Henderson accepted an invitation to replace the Australian Kerrilee Male as singer with the band Eclection, which featured Trevor Lucas (who later married Sandy Denny and played with Fotheringay and Fairport Convention). Later, she went back to the notion of a progressive folk-jazz-rock band, forming Dorris Henderson's Eclection, with her son Eric Jones on guitar.

She married the guitarist Mac McGann, formerly with the Levee Breakers, but largely dropped out of music for two decades, living in Twickenham, raising a family and confining her singing to the house and low-key pub appearances. She sang on a few television jingles and occasionally performed with Bob Kerr's band, but it took a reissue of the There You Go album in 1999 to inspire a serious comeback.

In 2003 she released Here I Go Again, a brand-new album encompassing traditional folk, blues, jazz, poetry and her own songs that she described as "my musical autobiography". It featured John Renbourn as well as old colleagues from Eclection and proved that even at the age of 70 she was still a bundle of vitality, character and charm.

John Renbourn studied classical guitar at school and it was during this period that he was introduced to Early Music. In the 1950s, along with many others, he was greatly influenced by the musical craze of “Skiffle” and this eventually led him to explore the work of artists such as Lead Belly, Josh White and Big Bill Broonzy.

In the 1960s the new craze in popular music was Rhythm and Blues, also the impact of Davey Graham was being felt. In 1961 Renbourn toured the South West with Mac MacLeod and repeated the tour in 1963.On returning from the South West Renbourn and MacLeod recorded a demo tape together. Renbourn briefly played in an R&B band while studying at the Kingston College of Art in London. Although the British “Folk Revival” was underway, most folk clubs were biased towards traditional, unaccompanied folk songs, and guitar players were not always welcome. However, the Roundhouse in London had a more tolerant attitude and here, John Renbourn joined blues and gospel singer Dorris Henderson, playing backing guitar and recording two albums with her.

Possibly the best known London venue for contemporary folk music in the early 1960s was “Les Cousins” on Greek Street, Soho, which became the main meeting place for guitar players and contemporary singer-songwriters from Britain and America. Around 1963, Renbourn teamed up with guitarist Bert Jansch who had moved to London from Edinburgh, and together they developed an intricate duet style that became known as “folk baroque”. Their album Bert and John is a fine example of their playing.

Renbourn released several albums on the Transatlantic label during the 1960s. Two of them, Sir John Alot and Lady and the Unicorn, sum up Renbourn’s playing style and material from this period. Sir John Alot has a mixture of jazz/blues/folk playing alongside a more classical/early music style. Lady and the Unicorn is heavily influenced by Renbourn’s interest in early music.

At around this time, Renbourn also started playing and recording with Jacqui McShee who sang traditional English folk songs, and with American fiddler Sue Draheim. Together with Bert Jansch, bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox, they went on to form Pentangle. The group became very successful, touring America in 1968, playing at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival.

Renbourn went on to record more solo albums in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of the music is based on traditional material with a Celtic influence, interwoven with other styles. He also collaborated with American guitarist Stefan Grossman in the late 1970s, recording two albums with him, which at times recall his folk baroque days with Bert Jansch.

In the mid-1980s Renbourn went back to the university to earn a degree in composition at Dartington College of Arts. Subsequently he focused mainly on writing classical music, while still performing in folk settings. He also added acoustic guitars for the movie soundtrack Scream for Help, a studio project with his neighbour John Paul Jones.

In 1988, Renbourn briefly formed a group called Ship of Fools with Tony Roberts (flute), Maggie Boyle (lyrics, misc. instruments) and Steve Tilston (guitar). They recorded one eponymous album together. After practising by mailing tapes to each other in England, they held their first concert, comprising two sold-out shows, at Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club Theater. Regrettably, the soundboard bootleg tape was not saved due to a dispute between the concert promoter and the audio engineer.

Renbourn continued to record and tour. He toured the USA with Archie Fisher. In 2005 he toured Japan (his fifth tour of that country) with Tokio Uchida and Woody Mann. In 2006 he played at number of venues in England, including the Green Man Festival in Wales and appearances with Robin Williamson and with Jacqui McShee. In the same year, he was working on a new solo album and collaborated with Clive Carroll on the score for the film Driving Lessons, directed by Jeremy Brock.

In 2011 he released Palermo Snow, a collection of instrumental guitar solos also featuring clarinetist Dick Lee. The title track is a complex mix of classical, folk, jazz and blues. This piece is a departure, in that there is a classical core, with other styles intermixing, rather than the core style being blues, folk or jazz.

Since 2012 he had toured with Wizz Jones, playing a mixture of solo and duo material. Renbourn previously appeared on Jones’s album “Lucky the Man” (2001) with other former members of Pentangle. In 2016, an album by the pair, titled Joint Control, was released.

Renbourn died on 26 March 2015 from a heart attack at his home in Hawick in the Scottish Borders, aged 70.

It's a pleasure to come across an artist that truly touches your soul. There is a purity to this CD that is hard to come by in this day of big production and synthesized music. Dorris has a voice that is hard to categorize, at times soaring soulfully and at other times soft and melancholy. One of my personal favorites is her rendition of the Dylan classic Mr Tamborine Man. When she sings the lyric "play a song for me" you wonder how anyone could resist complying with her request. And Ribbon Bow is a sweet glimpse into the past, to a more simple time when it really didn't take much to grant a young girl's wish. John Renbourn's guitar playing is superb and compliments Dorris' unique style wonderfully. Any one who is a folk purist should enjoy this CD throughly. It is a break from the ordinary and a pleasure to listen to.

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