I first became aware of Ted Drozdowski when I was working at the Boston Phoenix, reading his reviews and features as I helped to transfer them from the print edition to the Web. It wasn’t until later, when I put together a benefit show and Ted stepped in as a player and an organizer, that I really got to see how powerful a guitar player and songwriter he was and is. Then I got to see how he put the two together, doing a show on the history of the blues at a local museum, and using his guitar to illustrate different periods and styles.
For years, Ted has led recorded and gigged with his project, Scissormen. But with this new album, Coyote Motel, he has expanded his musical landscape. There are more players, deeper textures, more ambitious songwriting. The psychedelic sounds from previous work are at the forefront here, which you might have heard on last week’s featured track, “Still Among the Living.” He’s also still a prolific music journalist, now an editor with Premier Guitar. If you’re a guitarist and gearhead, you’ve likely read his stuff in the magazine’s excellent “Rig Rundown” series.
You will hear about all of that and more in this conversation, as well as Ted’s heartfelt explanation of what moving to Nashville has done for him, as a musician and a human being. You can find out more about Coyote Motel and all of his work at teddrozdowski.com, on Twitter at @scissormen, and on Facebook under Scissormen.
The featured track this week is an excerpt from Sarah Moss’s new book, Ghost Wall. It’s a short read, and a short audio – just under four hours – but this is a thick and thorny story. The set-up is that a family of three has joined an anthropology professor and a handful of students on a field trip in the North of England to live as the inhabitants would have in the Iron Age.
Teenaged Silvie and her mother are just passengers here for father’s obsession with a time when England was, in his estimation, pure. He insists that Silvie and her mother adhere to the rules of the age, even if the land and local conditions have changed to make that impossible. Silvie’s father uses Iron Age mores as a cudgel and a means of control, a way to shame Silvie and her mother into obedience. Her father is never proud of her unless she is acting as an avatar for his limited view of the world. But out amongst these college students, especially the free-spirited Molly, Silvie is finding her own philosophy, her own sexuality, her own self.
The studies become metaphors for the dangers of nationalism, racism, gender inequality, and romanticizing the morals of a bygone era. The locals used to sacrifice what they love most to the bog, and build walls topped with skulls and bodies to scare off the enemy – their “most powerful magic,” as it’s referred to in the book. We pick up the story here as Silvie is returning from foraging to find her father and the professor talking around the fire. You can find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, or your local bookstore, and the audio on Audible.
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