Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 129

By '74, Pentagram had become more
interested in doom- and Euro-metal than
vintage American psych. Listen, for example, to the live-in-the-studio "Livin' In
A Ram's Head," laden with MacAllister's
power chords and period-correct fast pentatonics and bends. Move ahead to 1976's
"Star Lady" (with Marty Iverson on second
guitar), which sounds much like a cool, but
cruder version of Uli-Roth-era Scorpions.
Part of the charm here is that these recordings were cut in local Virginia studios
and are accordingly lo-fi. Today, that makes
them far more interesting than slicker metal
productions of the time.
If this isn't enough crunch for you, Pentagram is still touring and there's another
two-CD companion set, First Daze Here
Too, featuring grisly stompers like "When
The Screams Come" and "Virgin Death."
Crank 'em, if you dare. - Pete Prown

Prasanna

Reable Childs photo courtesy of Gayle Royer.

All Terrain Guitar
The highly decorated Prasanna embellishes his artistry with a style that
fuses elements of
jazz and Indian music. The ancient Indian
art of Carnatic music weaves throughout,
bringing much-needed pizazz, panache,
and fearless exploration to what would
otherwise be garden-variety fusion.
Fretted and fretless guitars wail with
controlled abandon within tight but freshly
conceived arrangements. The ensemble
includes Vijay Iyer on keys, Mike Pope and
Bill Urmson on bass, as well as Rodney
Holms and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums.
A horn section rounds out the group with
Prasanna blazing on electric and acoustic
guitar with microtonal bends, slides,
cliché-free phrasing, and neck-cranking
melodies.
On "Final Approach" and "Sometime
In New York," Prasanna finds common
ground between the bop lines of Charlie
Parker and the sitar phrasing of his homeland. Elaborate guitar and sax unison lines
careen with technical brilliance.
Vocalist Natalie John scats her way into
fresh territory on "Electron Dance," while
Shalini Lakshmi brings luster to "Song For
The Wind," "Pinch Pennies In Monaco,"
and "The Keyword Is Love."
This is an enjoyable feast and an inspiration to forward-thinking music lovers
wanting to break outside the musical box.
- Oscar Jordan

Multi-instrumentalist
Reable Childs.

STARS BEHIND BARS

S

ometimes the most
interesting books
are ones that delve
into a subject readers
didn't know about and
never considered. And
except for now-elderly
people who were around
the right place at the right
time, especially during
the decade beginning in
the late '30s, most of us
would be unaware of the
existence and details of
music programs in Texas
prisons, if not for author
Caroline Gnagy.
The story of Huddie
"Leadbelly" Ledbetter, a
veritable walking encyclopedia of blues and folk
songs, singing his way out
of his prison sentence for
murder is well known. But
what about multi-instrumentalist Reable Childs,
a radio star on WBAP's
"Thirty Minutes Behind
the Walls," or the fact
that stripper Candy Barr
played drums in an all-girl
band at the Goree State
Farm For Women's rodeo,
after being sentenced to
15 years for possession
of less than an ounce
of marijuana in 1960?

December 2016

129

From prison records, radio-show transcripts, and
the words and music of
the inmates themselves,
Gnagy tells the stories of
bands consisting of fiddle

Caroline Gnagy

Texas Jailhouse Music: A
Prison Band History
champions and swing
bands, of petty thieves
and killers. She's empathetic without becoming
maudlin, and she never
skirts around the crimes
the musicians committed.
Childs played banjo,
lap steel, fiddle, and
acoustic guitar, and had
had some vocal training
at the Stamps-Baxter
singing school prior to

VINTAGE GUITAR

entering prison. In 1936,
Childs was sentenced to
25 years in prison, when
a jury found her guilty
as an accessory, after
her boyfriend murdered
her husband. Thanks to
"Behind The Walls," she
received sacks of fan mail.
Gnagy certainly comes
from creative pedigree.
Her grandfather was artist
and TV instructor Jon
Gnagy, whose drawing
kits many baby boomers
probably still have, and
her great-uncle was folk
singer and harmonica
player Sam Hinton. And
in groups like the Casey
Sisters, Gnagy sings country and rockabilly. Here,
though, her writing is tight
but compelling, and her research is most impressive.
The book's text is nearly
matched by its fascinating
photographs - from big
bands to William Harold
King playing the spoons.
Of special interest to VG
readers are the stringed
instruments, including
now-vintage roundhole
and archtop guitars.
Childs is pictured here
playing a late-'30s Gibson
TB-7 "tension top" banjo
with slotted bowtie inlays.
Though not included in the
book, it turns out that the
company loaned instruments to the prisons. As
Gibson historian Walter
Carter observes of Childs'
TB-7, "That would be a
$50,000 banjo today."
"Given the rich history of music in the Texas
prison system," Gnagy
concludes, "it may be
beneficial for the officials
of today to take a cue
from their own past and
see the power and possibilities of music: music
learned and played for
rehabilitation, inspiration,
and comfort." - Dan Forte


http://youtu.be/oAHc84ofpIU?list=PL53533538AA730B62 http://youtu.be/xn50JSI0W-E?list=PL53533538AA730B62

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 5
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 9
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 10
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 11
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 12
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 13
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 16
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 18
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 20
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 21
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 22
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 23
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 25
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 26
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 27
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 28
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 29
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 30
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 31
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 33
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 34
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 35
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 36
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