Scott Goudie keeping it alive

Karla Hayward
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For Scott Goudie, still waters may bring visual inspiration, but Muddy Waters brings musical magic. Happily, both will be brought to life in the coming weeks as Goudie gears up to launch a new album of music and participate in a group art show. "Acoustic Live" is, as the name implies, compiled from live, acoustic recordings made over several years both in St. John's - at the Fat Cat and Gower Street United Church - and in Twillingate, at the Fish, Fun, Folk Festival.

Goudie's visual materials? They're for a show happening June 19 at the Christina Parker Gallery. Centred around the theme of St. John's, Goudie, along with Grant Boland, Boyd Chubbs, Steve Payne and Laurie LeeHane, will showcase varying takes on the city. Goudie says he'll be contributing a series of three or four pastels of historical St. John's scenes.

For Scott Goudie, still waters may bring visual inspiration, but Muddy Waters brings musical magic. Happily, both will be brought to life in the coming weeks as Goudie gears up to launch a new album of music and participate in a group art show. "Acoustic Live" is, as the name implies, compiled from live, acoustic recordings made over several years both in St. John's - at the Fat Cat and Gower Street United Church - and in Twillingate, at the Fish, Fun, Folk Festival.

Goudie's visual materials? They're for a show happening June 19 at the Christina Parker Gallery. Centred around the theme of St. John's, Goudie, along with Grant Boland, Boyd Chubbs, Steve Payne and Laurie LeeHane, will showcase varying takes on the city. Goudie says he'll be contributing a series of three or four pastels of historical St. John's scenes.

Unplugged

"Acoustic Live" is not Goudie's first album, of course. He released "Renata" in 1982 and "The Gig" in 1997, both electric. Asked why he'd release a CD in this increasingly digital world, Goudie answers simply. "Because I've never put out an acoustic album. Because I wanted to! For posterity. It's like an exhibition: it's a group of songs, some are jazz, and some are blues. But like my artwork, it's a collection of my work brought together at this point in my life."

And as for what's attracted this long time electric aficionado to go cordless, Goudie says, "I just like the uncomplicated acoustic guitar world as opposed to the amplifiers and cables and special effects. I like the lovely sound of the acoustic guitar - the woodiness of it."

Learning to do by doing

For both his visual and musical education, Goudie took the apprentice approach. For art, he sat with Gerald Squires, Don Wright and Frank Lapointe. When it came time to study guitar, Goudie headed south.

"I studied acoustic guitar down in Alabama with Johnnie Shines in 1974. So some of the delta blues that I studied with him are on this album."

Other musical teachers included the likes of John Hammond, whom he met right here in St. John's, Albert Collins and Muddy Waters. "I learned a lot from those people. But as I say on the album cover, I think I learned more about life than music in many ways. They are very interesting people."

'Acoustic Live'

Made up of 16 tracks total and featuring Paul Smith, Denis Parker and Peter Narvaez, the album contains just one Goudie original - "Renata" from his first album. The others are interpretive takes on many of the artist's favourite tunes.

"They're not clones of the originals from the '30s. It's my interpretation. There are lyrics missing, I've changed the guitar lines a little bit ... It's a rearrangement, really. If you listen to the first song on the album, 'Preaching Blues,' Robert Johnson's version of it and my version - they're very different. Extremely."

Goudie explains making an old song new is, "A very personal thing. You become almost like an advocate for that song ... You keep it alive for the person who wrote it in 1936. You're bringing it to a new public."

In constructing the album, Goudie says choosing the songs to include was perhaps the stickiest job of all.

"It was tough. We had more than twice as many songs recorded, and as we were narrowing it down, I got it down to 25, and then 15. But, there were two recordings of the song "Mississippi Blues" by Willie Brown, and I loved both versions. One is done with Denis (Parker) and Peter (Narvaez) at the Gower Street United Church and the other is live in Twillingate. So I put a bonus track in and kept them both."

Goudie is upbeat about the album's reception, saying there is quite a large blues/jazz following in St. John's.

"There are a lot of young musicians who've taken it on, too," he adds. "Mike David, for example - the Novaks. They love jazz and blues and roots rock. I was listening to them today when I was at Fred's Records and it reminded me of really early Rolling Stones, because the Stones started out in blues. In fact, there's a song on my album from the 'Beggar's Banquet' album. That's a real country-blues song."

With guests Denis Parker and Paul Smith, Goudie will launch "Acoustic Live" at the Fat Cat on Thursday, June 11 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Organizations: Fat Cat, Gower Street United Church, Narvaez Fred's Rolling Stones

Geographic location: St. John's, Twillingate, Mississippi

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