Archive - May 24, 2010

Music Mondays – Blog Mentor, Randy Burns

Every Sunday evening, bloggers gather on Twitter for a #blogchat to talk about blogging. These chats cover many different topics, and last night @alisonlaw asked, “who are/were your blog mentors?”

I replied with my typical response of E.B. White. His essays for the New Yorker brought personal observations to political issues. They had an authenticity that good bloggers are striving for today.

This came back to me this morning as I prepared to write my Orient Lodge Music Review post for the week. One person who submitted his music was Randy Burns. In my book, Randy Burns is up there with E.B. White as one of those writers that bloggers, and for that matter singer/songwriters should look to as a mentor.

His biography describes the start of his career this way:

In 1966, Randy Burns was dropped off on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Street, with a bag over his shoulder and a guitar in his hand…ready for anything Randy had gotten his start a year earlier at The Exit Coffeehouse in New Haven, Connecticut but soon left to join the Urban Folk Revival in Greenwich Village. The first three months he slept in flop houses, on subways and park benches in Washington Square Park. Every week he played the open mic nights at the original Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight Café and The Bitter End. Impressed by his talent, Clarence Hood, the owner of the legendary Gaslight hired Randy as the permanent opening act. At only eighteen he was opening for the biggest folk stars in the country, artists he’d only heard on records.

Frustrated with the music industry, Randy returned to his folksinging roots and hit the road again as a folksinger. For years he was literally homeless – ‘It would have been a waste of money,” he says, “I was singing so many places that I’d leave a bag of clothes wherever I usually played so I could travel light.” A headliner at Kenny’s Castaways, in the late 70s, owner Pat Kenny arranged for Randy to tour Ireland. It was off to Dublin, where he played coast to coast two years in a row.

It wasn’t until the early 80s that I started visiting the clubs in Greenwich Village, so I probably missed him there. A little over a year ago, he did a concert at the First Presbyterian Church in New Haven. I missed that concert as well. It was my loss, but it did stop the hall from filling up to capacity.

The first song in his Electronic Press Kit is “The Simple Things”. It starts off, “I’ve always loved the simple things. And I guess I’ll always will”. I’m with Randy on that. Reading some E.B. White, listening to some of Randy Burns songs, these are parts of the simple things for me, and are also important factors shaping my writing.

It’s time for a new generation to discover Randy Burns. He has a new album coming out next month, and he will be participating in the Folk City at Fifty early next month. They are well worth checking out.

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