Ronnie, Grace, and Aoife

October 13, 2012

All right, all right, enough already. Seems my public is clamouring. Well, I say “public” but of course Mike is an old chum and Ian is a comrade in arms, my sturdy lieutenant in the New Model Grants Panel. But I have also been recently embarassed by a colleague who only just discovered I blog, but found themselves uncertain of whether this was historical research. (This  encounter was on my recent visit to the lovely new Imperialist Centre for Infernal Cosmology, aka the New Jerusalem of Bayesianism).

I suppose I should be writing about UKIRT for sale, as it is a somewhat new development in modern astronomy, or rather the sociopolitics thereof. But  I am lost for words. I will come back to this I promise. But meanwhile here is some Saturday morning musical indulgence.

This morning on the radio I listened to Paul Gambaccini narrating the story of the Weavers famous 1955 Carnegie Hall concert, which launched the folk revolution. It was their first appearance after years of hiding from Senator McCarthy as it were. (Of course, they were Communists). Fascinating stuff. But somewhat to my surprise, I was struck by how much Ronnie Gilbert sounded like Grace Slick. A belting intensity, emotional but controlled use of vibrato, and utter conviction.

Exhibit A : The Weavers playing Darling Cory.

Exhibit B :  Jefferson Airplane from 1969 in Woodstock playing Volunteers

Note Grace Slick with finger in ear. Obviously a true folkie. Note also the revolutionary intent. Finally, note the “call and response” structure. This is classic gospel, but The Gambaccini explained this morning that the Weavers were the first white folk to build this style into their songs. I really do see a straight line from the Weavers to Jefferson Airplane.

Now just for fun, here is a much more modern version of Darling Cory, played by the rather wonderful Crooked Still. Progressive Bluegrass ? How can you go wrong ?  Aoife O’Donovan is a very different style of singer to either Ronnie Gilbert of Grace Slick, but really very very good.

Finally, and especially for Mike, here is Grace Slick at her best : White Rabbit. Its so beautiful its frightening.

Now I must go and do some Physics 1A marking.