Gordon Bok's Juneau stop inspires fruitful search

Web surf turns up plenty of Bok-related folk music by various artists

Posted: Thursday, October 09, 2008

This is about free music by legendary folk singer Gordon Bok and those inspired by his songs of the seas. But, as my last column as a U.S. resident, it serves a larger point: There's a lot I'm going to miss about Juneau, including how brief stops by artists frequently lead to discovering vast new resources of music "out there."

Thankfully, the "series of tubes" offers virtual redemption from shows I miss - including Bok's - and I'll keep writing here as I continue to play catch-up while residing 800 miles from the North Pole in Longyearbyen, Norway, basically the world's northernmost town.

Recent performances by Bok here and in Ketchikan were noted by my sweetie, in from California to help me pack (my ex, if you must know, but it was good will and not a desire to rush me to the other side of the planet). I'd never heard of Bok, but she immediately recognized and raved about one of his baritone songs I streamed online, thrilled a singer of such caliber was here.

Trouble was, at showtime I was at a Norwegian language retreat in the woods of Minnesota. They didn't have TV or phones, but were well Wi-Fi'd for whatever reason, so I did my usual 'net scouring for an audio tour of what I missed.

Bok's site (www.gordonbok.com) and others devoted to him were disappointing, offering mostly short samples and a few full-length streaming audio songs, but I found plenty from related artists to last the duration of my 12-hour, three-flight journey home.

Among them:

• Your Mother Should Know Recordings (ymskrecordings.com/music.htm): Two Bok songs, plus roughly 100 more "you're not likely to hear elsewhere" by mostly known classic-era artists, from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix collaborating on "Day Tripper," to The Rolling Stones doing "As Tears Go By" in Italian, to a 2005 Cream reunion convert in London. In addition to Dylan and the Dead, there's also blues, folk and jazz rarities. The reason I live to surf.

• Cover Lay Down (coverlaydown.blogspot.com): An MP3 blog of "folk covers of familiar songs," with enough links to last Boomers through retirement. Worth checking regularly, because the author indicates links aren't necessarily permanent.

• The Songs Of The Seeger Sessions (bruce.orel.ws/seegersessions/index.html): Want to hear a bunch of versions of "How Can I Keep From Singing," "Old Dan Tucker" and 17 other classics? This site stockpiles them by song and artist.

• Wendy Grossman, "Roseville Fair" (www.pelicancrossing.net/roseville.htm): A free album by the performer of American and British traditional/contemporary, with lots of pennywhistle, banjo and related instrumental work. A link at the site offers lots more casual, live and home recordings.

• Mark Sabbatini is a professional music critic who won't see the sun until February after moving to the Arctic island of Svalbard, where the biggest danger of going outside alone at night is getting eaten by a polar bear. That and the occasional stretch of nippy and breezy weather. But they have a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, frozen whale meat at the supermarket and a mid-winter jazz festival, so all is good.

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