How Do You Pronounce SWLABR?

Dear Good Folks, last week it was an immersion into the grace note inflections of Chick Corea’s music (killer gig at The Loft by the way) and this week, well quite a different setup. Full blown genre morphing in play!

CreamClaptonBruceBaker1960s

This is the week of CREAM and I’ve been heavy into the research and development of their music, detailing the meter changes and taking note of their threshold of what’s passable for guitar tuning. Hah! These cats are masters and they wrote some inspired music and I’m thrilled to present their sound filtered through our jazz point of view. We’ve got a great concert planned for Friday night, gifted and devoted musicians at this very moment assimilating the music, and all of this will go down at the Encinitas Library. Add in free admission and could there be any other choice of where to be on that night!

I grew up with Cream and most of us guitarists got our start playing the riff from “Sunshine of your Love.” The lick has power and makes you feel connected yet at the same time it isn’t too hard to play. I think I even taught my daughter Kylie this lick when she was a young guitar prankster.

Years marched on and my world was swirling in jazz yet every now and then I’d listen to the Cream records and they’d still hold true. The trio took their music beyond the typical rock/pop moves of the day and they’d add in cool modulation and time signature updates that’d keep me listening. From this I knew there’d be a moment at some point down the way to dive in and see how their music fit into my hands.

And the good news is that time is NOW and on Friday lets all hang out and experience Cream in a whole new way.

Most folks don't know it but for a second I was in the band and taking guitar lessons from Clapton on the side. This is how the cover was supposed to look but alas, things took a different turn. photo morphing by RixGraphix

Most folks don’t know it but for a second I was in the band and taking guitar lessons from Clapton on the side. This is how the cover was supposed to look but alas, things took a different turn.
(I hope you get that this is a joke)
photo morphing by RixGraphix

In this R&D mode I’ve come across some cool little discoveries that totally passed me by in the early days. One of my favorite of their tunes (and one that we’re playing on this concert) is “Badge.” It was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison for the Goodbye Cream recording and was originally an untitled track. I’ve always wondered where that title came from as it’s never referred to in any of the song lyrics. Check out what I found out:

During the production transfer for the album Goodbye, the original music sheet was used to produce the liner notes and track listing. The only discernible word on the page was “bridge” (indicating the song’s bridge section). Due to Harrison’s handwriting, however, Clapton misread it as “badge” — and the song was titled soon thereafter.
 
Harrison remembered the story differently: “I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing– ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park.”
 

Another tune of Cream’s that’s been high up on my playlist is “Swlabr.” Any one out there posses the facial expertise on how you’d form that word in your mouth? It’s linguistic PHD material and I’m way short on schooling to take that one on.

We’ve always just called it “Swablar” and again, this still isn’t a real word and isn’t contained in the songs lyrics. I know these guys we’re psychedelic heads but what’s up? Check it out:

The song’s title is an initialism (I guess an initialism is like an acronym) for “She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow.”
 
The song’s lyrics talk of a woman who constantly comes and goes out of a relationship with the narrator (“Coming to me in the morning, leaving me at night”); it suggests that although she may appear to be perfect, she is flawed (“You’ve got that pure feel, such good responses, you’ve got that rainbow feel, but the rainbow has a beard”).
 

It’s still pretty far out but I’m digging this new information! We’re playing “Swlabr” on this concert too…

In the band we’ve got Leonard on vocals, Tripp on sax, flute and keyboards, Duncan Moore on drums, Glen Fisher on bass, and me on guitar. Glen is a mentor for some young and gifted musos in the Point Loma area and some of his students will be opening up this concert with a mini set. The group is led by vocalist Sahara Grim with Jake Nuffer shredding on guitar, Seth Irby on bass, Eddy Allen on keys and Alex Allen on drums.

Tripp and I drove down to the band’s Point Loma garage practice room last night and the kids ripped it up!

Rehearsing with the youngsters getting ready to play Cream for the masses. From left to right, top row; Seth

Rehearsing with the youngsters getting ready to play Cream for the masses. From left to right, top row; Glen, Sahara, Alex, and really good young trombone fellow. Middle row; Seth, Jake, Peter, Thomas. Lower row; Tripp, Eddy, and great alto fellow.
photo by Richard Irby (tolerant Dad with his garage transformed over to a band practice space)

We’re also adding a horn section (3 saxes and trombone) for two of the numbers just in case the $0 admission fee was feeling a little too steep. Check out the wicked “Had To Cry Today” with the horns reaching to the stratosphere!

Look below for the gig details and I hope you can make it out!

The start time is 7:30pm even though the library concert listing says 7pm.

Microsoft Word - Peter Sprague Cream poster .docx

And after the big hoopla of the Cream concert I’ll quietly join vocalist Leonard Patton for a trio hit at a new club in San Marcos called Northern Lights. This is on Saturday night and look at the gig calendar for details. Big fun!

Good on ‘ya folks and thanks for reading. And remember, “you’ve got that pure feel, such good responses, you’ve got that rainbow feel”…

best, Peter

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