Friday, January 28, 2005

Sad news from the UK

Jim Capaldi has died

I received four e-mails at work almost simultaneously -- I guess my friends have me pegged. This was very sad news to me, having known nothing of his illness.

I was lucky enough to see Jim Capaldi with Traffic three times. The first was at the old Academy of Music in New York in 1970 [if memory serves, 'tho it may have been the old Beacon Theater in Port Chester -- the ticket stub is in 'storage']. It was the third or fourth date of the first US tour following JBMD and Ric Gretch had just been drafted into the band. 35-year old memories are unreliable, but I remember being surprised at how much Jim sang -- he harmonized on nearly every song. He played a VERY small kit - snare, kick drum, one [maybe two] tom[s] a hi-hat and a couple or three cymbals.

At the time my favorite drummers were Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell & Ginger Baker, so imagine my surprise at the wonderful din he was able to create from such a small rig. Steve Winwood's acoustic guitar refused to stay in tune during "John Barleycorn" and Chris Wood's electric flute was unlike anything I'd ever heard before [never having seen Blues Project or Herbie Mann, from whom Wood freely acknowledged influences].

I never saw the original band again, though I remained a steadfast fan through thick & thin [and "On The Road"].

Jump ahead almost 25 years to 1994 and the Ives Center in Danbury, CT -- a lovely outdoor amphitheatre, where I saw the opening leg of the reunion tour, with the under-appreciated Subdudes opening. A really enjoyable 'jam-band' kind of show. Chris Wood's absence was deeply felt; however utility player Randall Bramblett was a revelation, and I have since gone on to become a huge fan.

Jim was a MUCH greater presence on this tour -- by now the obligatory audience participation number ["Light Up Or Leave Me Alone"] had added an unnecessary cheesiness to the show [see the Woodstock 94 CD or DVD], but apart from that, it was a terrific evening, which I was lucky enough to experience again at the tail end of the same tour in Sunrise, Florida. This time, the effervescent Sonia Dada were the opening act [if you like Was Not Was - you will LOVE these guys.] I had seen and met them earlier in the year, and was pleasantly surprised when their seats turned out to be right in front of mine -- so we were able to share our love of Traffic with one another throughout the night!

Anyway - I'm glad Traffic made it into the R&R Hall Of Fame finally -- I just got a DVD of the induction and it's a great final memory.

Goodbye Jim! Unfortunately, there's no shortage of drummers in the great band in the sky, but you'll be a great addition, nonetheless --

The scenery is all the same to me
Nothing has changed or faded

I'm a part of it's a part of me:
Painted cool green, and shaded

So trying to find myself must be the only way . . .

To be free

I feel no sound
Don't know where I'm bound . . .

"No Face, No Name, No Number" - lyrics by Jim Capaldi, 1967


Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:21 PM  
Blogger nick in florida said...

Thanks for linking to your work, so I could see why I obviously would have bored you.

This is really amazing stuff! I'll take these lessons to heart and I promise to work unceasingly to meet your standards in the future.

In the meantime

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just caught Stevie Windwood on Soundstage last night. I think this was done in 2004, great band, excellent trapman and conga player. The credits were too fast to see who they were. Anyway, In researching Winwood's doings I learned of Jim Capaldi's death. I also was at that 1970 Academy of Music concert. It was intro'd by a solo Cat Stevens who had just put, "Tea for the Tillerman" out. This indeed was one of the greatest and most impressive gigs I ever attended. Capaldi's style always was an incentive to me, as I'm self-taught and a believer in using only what's necessary. It's just good to hear from someone else that was there for that incredible gig. TK

10:06 PM  

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