Larry Conklin & Jochen Blum

Another gem in the series  of tompkins square´s private press reissues is this record from 1980/1981 called Jackdaw by Larry Conklin & Jochen Blum.

Me personally, I like the solo guitar interpretations like the above track “water and time” more than the vocal tracks or the songs with Jochen Blum on violin. Especially those are sometimes way over the top – but never mind great kitsch, compared to these days pop music, it´s still pure gold.

(Although to be honest, the songs Larry Conklin released in the 90ies like on the LP “dolphins grace” are almost imbearable cheesy chill out music.

Larry Conklin bought his first guitar, a Gibson J-45, in 1970, after he got out of the army. “I taught myself to play. I wrote songs and instrumentals (at that time Bert Jansch was my guiding light). I listened to a lot of people – Leo Kottke, John Renbourn, Django Reinhardt, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson – and especially Rev. Gary Davis, who played only with his thumb and index finger as I did.”

Larry’s first record, Jackdaw was self-released in 1980 and includes beautiful solo 12 string acoustic guitar tracks, as well as gentle acoustic duets with violinist, Jochen Blum. Larry met Jochen in Florence, Italy, in 1980 and commented that “his violin playing put excitement into my music. It was special. I pressed 300 copies and sent them out into the world.”

Larry wrote “The Diamond Cutter” in 1978 while going to Seattle Community College, in a creative writing course. The inspiration for the song, according to Larry “was a girl who wrote a poem to a departing lover – You only deal with cut glass. I deal with diamonds. I introduced myself to her as the Diamond Cutter.” In 1985 while living in Berlin, Larry got a letter from a woman in Seattle who informed him that Charles Royer was running for a third term as Mayor of Seattle and that “The Diamond Cutter” was being used as a campaign song. Royer won, November 5th 1985.

Post-Jackdaw, Larry moved to Europe and in 1987 began recording for Tukan Records. In the 21 years that he lived in Europe, Larry toured and recorded with John Renbourn as well as blues artist Sidney ,Guitar Crusher, Selby. Larry returned to the United States in 2002 and now lives in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. “My ambition these days is to work up the perfect set list, an evolving challenge, but on any night when I am playing in Hilo I will play “The Diamond Cutter”. It’s on my set list. It somehow led me here.”

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