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Notes by DOUGLAS BRINKLEY
It is not hyperbole to refer to David Amram as "one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced" (The Washington Post in a recent review of his work).
Long before there were "World Beat" sections in record stores, Amram was playing Egyptian Shanais, Syrian Dumbeks, Pakistani Flutes, Irish Pennywhistles, Jazz French Horn and dozens of instruments given to him by Native Americans ranging from the Innuits of Alaska to the Oneidas of Upper New York state.
David is an acclaimed composer of orchestral music. Many of his over 100 symphonic compositions are based on experiences shared with folk musicians from around the world. Perhaps Jack Kerouac best summed up his friend and collaborator, "Davey, you are America's down-home musicologist extraordinaire!"
During the last forty years of performing, Amram would often entertain musicians and friends with stories and songs about his experiences criss-crossing the globe, usually improvised with perfect rhymes, whenever the spirit moved him. Over the decades, these songs have become a favorite of musicians around the world, usually performed by Amram after midnight for fellow performers as a musical thank you for following a performance.
There is a brilliant playfulness to these lyrical songs. His stories range from a lonely hog suffering marital problems to a crooning camel in search of a return ticket to Texas. But there is also a sentimental side to "Southern Stories", such as Amram's moving ballad to his gonzo-journalist friend Hunter S. Thompson of Lousiville, Kentucky, and a stark reflection of a year he spent during the great depression in Passagrille, FL.