Starvation Under Orange Trees

Starvation Under Orange Trees

by Ray's Vast Basement
     
 

The fiction of John Steinbeck might not seem the most amenable to musical adaptation, but there have been some notable attempts. In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote and recorded "Tom Joad," a 17-verse song version of The Grapes of Wrath that earned praise from the novelist. Fifteen years later, Richard Rodgers and See more details below

Overview

The fiction of John Steinbeck might not seem the most amenable to musical adaptation, but there have been some notable attempts. In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote and recorded "Tom Joad," a 17-verse song version of The Grapes of Wrath that earned praise from the novelist. Fifteen years later, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II used Sweet Thursday as the source for Pipe Dream, one of their less successful Broadway musicals. A half century after that, Jon Bernson, the creative force behind the Bay Area band Ray's Vast Basement, was asked by the Actors Theater of San Francisco to write and perform music to accompany a production of the play version of Of Mice and Men. Bernson fulfilled the assignment, but he also went beyond it, and Starvation Under Orange Trees, a title borrowed from a Steinbeck essay, is the result, its songs inspired by works such as East of Eden ("The Story of Lee") and Cannery Row ("Ocean Notes," "Palace Flophouse") as well. Musically, Bernson is closer to Guthrie than to Rodgers & Hammerstein, creating folkish arrangements that begin with acoustic guitar and add lots of other acoustic string instruments -- mandolin, banjo, Dobro -- plus the odd keyboard, reed, and more exotic folk accompaniment, such as washboard and musical saw. He also throws in field recordings and found sounds to give the tracks atmosphere. Over the top, he sings in a laid-back and gruff tenor, his phrasing often slurred and rarely emphasizing meaning over sheer sound. His lyrics tend to be more impressionistic than specific, retaining, perhaps, the intentions of the theater company that wanted a musical accompaniment and complement, but not to turn the play into a musical. Starvation Under Orange Trees can be enjoyed without reading a shelf full of Steinbeck books, and, in fact, a close familiarity with those books isn't that much help in appreciating it. But Bernson captures the mood of Steinbeck's writing, which seems to have been the idea.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/03/2007
Label:
Howells Transmitter
UPC:
0751937306924
catalogNumber:
4

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Salinas River Theme  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  2. California's Gone  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  3. The Story of Lee  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  4. Not Just Mine  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  5. Danny's Party  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  6. How Through Sacrifice Danny's Friends Gave a Party  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  7. Ocean Notes  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  8. Black Cotton  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  9. Work Song  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  10. Tia Ignacia  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  11. Tall Bob Smoke  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  12. White Land Pink Land  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  13. Palace Flophouse  -  Ray's Vast Basement
  14. Annalisa  -  Ray's Vast Basement

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ray's Vast Basement   Primary Artist
Matt Greenberg   Piano,Trumpet,Glockenspiel,Melodica
Gene Baker   Piano,Trumpet
Ashley "Rider" Adams   Double Bass,Bowed Bass
Nate Query   Bass,Double Bass
Scott Rosenberg   Clarinet,Soprano Saxophone,Double Bass
Michael Zapruder   Organ,Bass,Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Enzo Garcia   Saw
John Vecchiarelli   Drums
Jeff Hobbs   Cornet
Aram Shelton   Clarinet
Jon Bernson   Organ,Bass,Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Piano,Accordion,Drums,Glockenspiel,Hammond Organ,Vocals,Background Vocals,Washboard,Bells,Bottle,Slide Guitar
Colin Held   Clarinet,Guitar,Mandolin,Piano,Vocals,Bells,Slide Guitar
Jason Kleinberg   Viola
Jennifer Welch   Bottle
Ann Marie Taylor   Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Chris Linnevers   Hi Hat,Rake
Steve Hogan   Accordion
Andy Davis   Banjo,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Larry Crane   Engineer
Dominic Cramp   Found Sounds
Mark Willsher   Mastering
Michael Zapruder   Engineer
Jon Bernson   Composer,Engineer,Rhythm Loops,Hands,Field Recording
Colin Held   Engineer,Rhythm Loops,Hands
Jennifer Welch   Hands

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