Sat, 7 July 2018
Our guest this week on the Standing 'O' Project/Art of the Song Coffee Break is singer/songwriter and Guthrie collector Barry Ollman.
Chances are you’ll never have heard of Barry Ollman. Not unless, that is, you happen to be a music collector. His father a Midwest correspondent for Billboard from 49-75, Ollman grew up immersed in music, not to mention gathering an impressive collection of autographs. This was the spark of what would see him become perhaps the definitive collector of Woody Guthrie, an obsession that has also encompassed the social movements of the time as well as Guthrie’s contemporaries, musical and otherwise. He’s also on the board of the Guthrie Foundation.
As well as being a music collector, Ollman’s also a musician, performing as a folk singer-songwriter since the late 60s. In the 90s, introduced by his photographer brother, Ollman met and became friends with Graham Nash, one of his longtime heroes. Fast forward to the present and this, Barry’s debut recording, the opening track of which, the waltzing ‘Imogen’s Lament’, features Nash on harmonies. It’s a song inspired by Imogen Cunningham, one of the great photographers of the 20th century and serves as a tribute to and lament for the passing of old school photography with the arrival of the digital age. Being something of a well-regarded snapper himself, Nash also provides the album’s back cover photo.
Nash isn’t the only familiar name here. Another of Ollman’s mates happens to be E Street band bassist Garry Tallent, who duly turns up on four tracks here, providing both bass and guitar on the strutting ‘Banker’s Holiday’, which takes a swipe at the profession behind the economic collapse.
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