"Under the radar" -- doing something undetected. Sometimes this phrase is used to mean "getting away with something", as in doing something nefarious without getting caught. Sometimes it just means doing something and not getting noticed.
Jay Linden has been making music, all-told, for over 45 years, since he was a pre-teen. He plays dozens of instruments, and has written dozens and knows and plays thousands of songs. But mostly, he remains a pretty well guarded secret outside of the people in the communities where he's lived.
He's unabashedly acoustic, unabashedly folk rooted. His musical trail comes up from Woody, Pete, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, through Dylan, Johnny Cash and the 50s folk scare and through contemporaries like Townes, Willie P, Dolly Parton, Dave Carter and more. He writes and sings memorable folk songs and plays a lot of fretted and stringy things, flutes, hand drums, and novelty instruments, some more novel than others.
Back in the '70s, Jay was an up-and-coming folkie. A decent songwriter and a good guitar player who shared stages and backstages with many of Canada's finest -- Jay hates to drop names (and usually won’t do so even if you ask), but he will admit to some interesting acquaintances:
"Stan Rogers used to call me by name when he wanted me to move out of his way. Adam Mitchell used to chide me for making an occasional mistake when I sang his songs. I spent two years as the guitar player Jack Schechtman (then a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and now a working rabbi in California). I have sung high falsetto harmony notes I can no longer hit onstage with Willie P. Bennett. I have driven around town with such luminaries as Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor and John Allan Cameron. I have eaten dinner with All Three Members of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. At the same time. Their treat. I've known Paul Mills since before Trevor Mills was born. Leon Redbone has played my guitar -- while I was holding it. Steve Goodman played it onstage at Mariposa one year. I knew Grit Laskin before he started making guitars (and have one of his very earliest ones.) And I know Bob Dylan's first name."
Then, more suddenly than it started, Jay took the 80s and 90s off, writing no songs and rarely even picking up a guitar. A reformed smoker who quit a 35-year habit 8 1/2 years ago, Jay's figured out that he started making music again "for something to do with my hands". And started writing songs again. Memorable ones, this time.
The new album, "Under The Radar" is again filled with road miles and timelessness. Jay's songs are slices of universe with mature, universal themes, impeccable lyrics, simple yet elegant melodies ... poignancy without too much pathos ... they float in time and space like a Monet painting and a Douglas Adams story. Complementing his own songs are five covers -- new ones played in old ways, and old ones played in new ways. And all-told, in addition to guitar, Jay plays harmonica, banjo, cumbus saz, tambura, harmonium, backwards lowered bass Jew's harp, Maui Xaphoon pocket saxophone, bass kazoo, and yes, a little nose flute.
Sorry, still no cuatro.
Like the first album "Satchel", the production remains sparse and folksy. Recorded in Jay's living room, produced, mixed and mastered by Colin Linden. Colin plays some guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass, etc. Yes, they're related, a little. Stand-out bass from Chris Donahue, the stuff played with a bow, recorded in Nashville.
Nine songs by Jay, plus:
* a cumbus saz version of Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song"
* a banjo version of Lowell George's "20 Million Things"
* a tambura/harmonium version of Willie P. Bennett's "One Vessel"
* Willie's previously unrecorded "What's The Matter With You"
* and the bonus track, "That Lucky Old Sun" by Haven Gillespie & Beasley Smith, a very old jazz/pop standard that Jay has loved since almost it was new. Jay needs to use all three of his guitar chords for this one!
The 2006 album "Satchel" spent three months among the top radio played Canadian folk albums in both Canada and the US. And "Under The Radar"? One hopes!
45-plus years of road wear and miles and music. In short, Jay Linden must be one of the world's most slowly emerging talents. Truly, under the radar.
|(I'm Jay Linden! Let me update my information!!)|