Well, it’s just one of those captivating weeks at KVMR 89.5 FM, with a live broadcast of what many call a truly “real deal” intimate blues concert 7 p.m. this Sunday from the station’s 30-seat community room and then a showing of the classic 1983 Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd comedy, “Trading Places”, in a special free — yup, free — screening for KVMR members next Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m. at the Nevada Theatre, downtown Nevada City.
First of all, Auburn area guitarist Matt Baxter and Detroit-raised, now Oakland vocalist Jake Sampson bring their “pure” blues to KVMR and its airwaves. Together, they “evoke the spirits, power and memories of pre-WWII bluesmen such as Son House and Bukka White, and the results are fairly astounding,” according to Greek, yes, Greek blues blogger Michael Limnios and his blues network at <blues.gr>
According to Limnios, what the genre people always refer to as “real blues” is actually country blues or delta blues.
“After artists started using the electric guitar in blues recordings, the delta blues style was largely abandoned in favor of styles that accented the electric guitar,” he said.
Here are excerpts from Limnios’ interview with the northern California blues duo, from the Michael Limnios Blues Network, again at <blues.gr> :
What do you learn about yourself from the blues, what does the blues mean to you?
Matt: Playing the blues and guitar in general allows me to express my feelings. So the music helps me to stay centered.
When I was a young boy my Mother brought home Lightnin’ Hopkins Country Blues album. Something about his voice and guitar playing just made me feel at home. I played that record over and over and learned to play guitar by playing along with him.. That was a very important time for me.
Jake: The blues is my heritage – I cannot separate myself from the blues. It’s how I express myself. My dad introduced me to the blues and gave me a picture of him and B.B. King in 1965 at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit.
What experiences in life make you a good bluesman?
Matt: I like to say “you are what you play” I feel like my whole life has formed the way I play. The most interesting period in my life is right now. I am making great music with Jake and my life with my family on the Baxter Ranch (near Auburn) keeps me very busy.
Jake: I became a blues man at the age of nine when my dad no longer lived with us and I had to grow up fast helping my mother with the bills.
From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues? What is the best advice ever given you?
Matt: I have learned what I know about Blues from listening to the great originators of the art form and living my life. I remember being about 13 years old and a friend of mine asked me how I could tell one guitarist from the next. For me it was easy, everyone of the greats has his or her own personality and style. I tried to learn everything I could about each musician and what they played.
The best advice I ever got is to breath when you play, play like you talk and play from your heart.
Jake: The best advice I was given by older musicians when I first jammed with them was to be true to myself and play what I felt.
How do you describe your sound and what characterizes Matt Baxter & Jake Sampson’s philosophy?
Matt: We play simple honest music featuring Jake’s voice, my guitar. We try to make it sound like one instrument. Our goal is to make music that lets the listener in on what we are feeling. I think we succeeded with Haunted, our latest album.
Jake: It is a spiritual sound from the past created by Matt’s slide guitar and my vocals reminiscent of the southern blues of the twenties and thirties.
TRADING PLACES, TOO?
And then there’s “Trading Places”, directed by John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House, Blues Brothers). The Wednesday Night film special for KVMR members at the Nevada Theatre tells the the story of an upper class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler (Aykroyd, Murphy) whose lives cross paths when they’re unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet. The storyline is often called a modern take on Mark Twain’s classic 19th century novel, “The Prince and The Pauper.”
Hey, maybe Mr. Twain will show up for the film Wednesday night. He’s been known to hang around the theater, some claim.
Other cast members include Denholm Elliott and Jamie Lee Curtis, both of whom won supporting acting honors for at the British Academy Film Awards and the film — the fourth highest earning movie of 1983 — also garnered a Golden Globe nomination for best musical or comedy motion picture.
“This film is very special to me,” noted KVMR 89.5 FM Membership Coordinator Adriana Kelly. “We have made progress on its racial and sexual stereotypes since its release 35 years ago, but we haven’t made progress on Wall Street and enormous economic inequality.”
“But it’s a great film to be seen or re-seen as the holidays approach,” she added. “It’s hilarious and a real period piece of the ’80s.”
Contemporary critics were wild in their praise of the 1983 movie.
—Richard Schickel, Time Magazine called Trading Places “one of the most emotionally satisfying and morally gratifying comedies of recent times,” adding that Murphy “makes Trading Places something more than good-hearted comedy. He turns it into an event.”
–-Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times compared it to the comedies of Frank Capra and Preston Sturges. “This is good comedy,” calling the characters “wonderful comic inventions” that rose above stereotypes because it “develops the quirks and peculiarities of its characters, so that they’re funny because of who they are.”
—Janet Maslin of The New York Times echoed Ebert in saying “Preston Sturges might have made a movie like Trading Places,” praising the cast as “well-chosen” especially Curtis for managing “to turn a hard-edged, miniskirted prostitute into a character of unexpected charm.”
—Jay Carr of The Boston Globe called it “easily the best of the movies I’ve seen by the various Saturday Night Live alumni.”
–And Variety dubbed it “a light romp geared up by the schtick shifted by Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.”
Oh, and you’re going to take a chance on missing what Don Ameche does in this film? No, no, you’re not.
Duh, and, yes, yes, you can become a KVMR member that night and see the film free with a friend, as long as there still are seats left.
Okay, just remember, a film like this doesn’t come around very often. And if you missed it the first time, 35 years ago, you deserve to see it, if just to see if it still holds its critical raves.
After all, we were all Roger Ebert “Thumbs Up” wannabes, weren’t we?
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Special Members-Only Movie Night with “Trading Places,” holiday classic Wall Street satire starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy
WHEN: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5
WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., downtown Nevada City.
TICKETS: Free to all KVMR members; you can join at the door
INFORMATION: 530/265-9073, ext. 1003
KNOW & GO
WHAT: An intimate country delta blues concert with Matt Baxter & Jake Sampson
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m.
WHERE: KVMR Miss Rumphius’ Community Room, 120 Bridge at Spring St., downtown Nevada City
TICKETS: $25, at door or online at kvmr.org/event
LIVE BROADCAST: 7 – 9 p.m., KVMR 89.5 FM, Truckee 105.1 FM,kvmr.org streaming