Thursday, October 18, 2007
Johnny Vandiver, April 28th, 1967
I touched briefly on the story of Johnny Vandiver back on 10/04. I don't have a date on the photograph from that post, but I'm guessing early seventies. The change here is more profound even than that of the Garveys. It's possible that fractals have eliminated paisley forever. Still no sign of Jo Wright.
There is a somewhat sensationalized but very good article by Kathryn Casey about Vandiver and the events that led to his 1985 murder at http://www.kathryncasey.com/bio.htm . I'd like to quote a paragraph from that article, originally published in Rolling Stone, not only because it gives a good account of the man, but also because it quotes a fellow who showed up in Winfield in '71.
"John Vandiver spent twenty of his thirty-nine years playing on the Texas music circuit. He was one of those musicians who were always poised on the brink of success but who never quite made it. “There were people of much greater success who considered Johnny their peer,” says folk star David Bromberg, who’s recorded with the likes of Ringo Starr and Bob Dylan. Bromberg would occasionally play with Vandiver when he was in Texas. “I myself was very happy to be known as Johnny Vandiver’s guitar player.” "
It makes sense that these two white, middle-class bluesmen would bond over the fact that they each got to learn at the feet of really great bluesmen, Reverend Gary Davis for Bromberg and Mance Lipscomb for Johnny Vandiver. To hear these two play together would have been kind of a haunting echo of two blues greats, that as far as I know, never actually played together.
It might have also been an echo, without them realizing it, across a gap in time connecting two folk festivals in a little town in Kansas.