Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Pitchman

Mark Mason - Pitchman
This is a great short film spanning a life of using showmanship to pitch con games, towels, and
eventually magic tricks to magicians. He tells of working on carnival rides in Blackpool and numbers games. Very interesting and worth a watch.
"Mark Mason is "The Pitchman", magic's best salesman. He started out working as a carney, running mock auctions and pitching merchandise around the UK. Now he develops and markets effects for amateur and professional magicians, often hosting the most successful and entertaining booths at the world's biggest magic conventions."

Friday, 24 October 2014

Appalachian Show Folk

Alan Lomax recording before digital.
Watching Alan Lomax interview and explain the customs of story tellers, musicians, mountain whittlers, clog dancers, banjo players, ballad singers, coal miners, and bootleggers, set me thinking about this peculiar breed of showmen. 

Their style and Ways are less showy than most others ever featured on this blog. They do not rely on dazzle dazzle but rather on an immediate ability to connect. Hard working, hard men and women pouring their hearts out through their music and stories. Their stock in trade; a truthfulness and no nonsense. There aint no arguing with this kind of showings of the soul.

We meet men like Nimrod Workman who worked 12 hour shifts in the depths of coal mines, digging away at the hearts of those mountains to emerge singing ballads of black lungs. With the truth of each word knocking the dust off their helmets and overhauls. Its a simple truth, the most difficult to tell, because of its nakedness and directness. Telling us about how the coal seeping into their bodies, showing it like faint tattoos under his skin, and of course giving them black lungs. But somehow in his passion giving off the feeling that the coal inside them has been forged into a diamond, by the pressures of life and the alchemical process of refining life experience into truth told by art.

With Alan Lomax himself throwing in commentary like: 
"The huge crowds which applaud the precision cloggers represents the modern passion for spectacles of regimented movement." 
I love that sentence. He then goes on an Appalachian Journey for the individual movement and style and passion in the hearts of the mountain folk and how they express it through a stripped back practical showmanship.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

In Jesus' Name: Taking Up Serpents

I love this shot. The one armed man; deep faith resides there.
Mark 16:18: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name . . .they shall take up serpents."

I find the fervour and enthusiasm of Crowds, Congregations and the Preachers leading religiously themed performances deeply fascinating. 
The quality of the recordings in the clip below, its candid and autodidact feeling makes it all the more intriguing. It is like you have stumbled upon a tiny church deep in some hidden away holler. You are drawn in by the honesty and heartfelt interpretation of religious bluegrass and walking up you peek through the cobwebbed windows. 

There are interviews with some of the participants, but for the main part we just get to experience the no frills, all emotion and commitment of the little congregation.

There is great power in the shadow lands between performance and religious ecstasy. Real emotional healing and transcendent experiences has been created in settings like this for aeons. Here we get a rare unpolished and raw glimpse of it.