Saturday, January 2, 2016

G. E. Smith Shows Us Michael Bloomfield's Telecaster

1/2/2016 - G.E. Smith Jams on the Guitar That Killed Folk!
Wow! Talk about a sacred object. As Mike Myers put it in the film Wayne's World, Hendrix's white Stratocaster was Excaliber to his generation, comparing Jimi's guitar to the legendary sword of King Arthur.  Here's another contender for a musical instrument imbued with extraordinary spiritual power. We all know Clapton's Blackie Stratocaster and B.B. King's Lucille Gibson ES335. There was John Lennon's Richenbacher 325, Paul McCartney's Hofner Violin Bass, Les Paul's Gibson Les Paul, Bernie Marsden's Beast Les Paul... the list of iconic guitars stretches on. Here's one though that was forgotten; owned and played by Mike Bloomfield, a sideman guitarist whose style and commitment was so strong that for a while he went on to become a star himself. I first became aware of the re-emergence of this instrument 6 months ago when some YouTube surfing turned up the video Mike Bloomfield’s Telecaster. G.E. Smith (former guitarist with the Saturday Night Live Band) does a great job in the video above of explaining the significance and demonstrating the character of this guitar. The reverence he shows for this Telecaster is palpable. The Fender Telecaster was/is a fascinating phenomenon. It's often considered the first practical electric guitar. A tremendous departure from instruments that came before it; it was small and relatively inexpensive, so much so that it found its way into the deserving hands of enthusiastic and talented musicians who likely never would have been able to acquire a finely crafted, more expensive instrument like the Gibson Les Paul. Somehow, in calculating how to produce a no nonsense, inexpensive guitar, Leo Fender got it very, very right and the overwhelmingly direct tone and simplicity and the ingenuity of design proved to be something transcendent in the hands of the right player.  Videos like this seem to me like found puzzle pieces that help illuminate the complexity of our culture and history. I'll visit this one again and again.

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