Welcome to the RLH Productions and Windtide Music site...
WRLH, forgetting the sounds you like to hear, 19 cm on your radio dial!
|RLH: THE LOST EPISODES
A BRIEF (?) HISTORY OF RLH CONCERTS
In the fall of 1968 RL. Haney executed his first Northeast musical performance.
He has, off and on, been executing concerts ever since.
Fortunately, for the music loving public, these concerts have not occasioned themselves often. However, they do tend to appear without much warning, leaving in their wake a confused and shamefaced audience.
In a small shabby rented rehearsal hall above Jim & Andy's tavern, an establishment, which in better days, played host to many of Broadway's finest pit musicians and commercial recording sidemen RLH gave vent to a sampling of other writers' songs, gradually descending into his own. The small audience blushed with relief when the program ended and faded into the night. A night more pleasant and familiar than the confines of the performance.
RLH promptly left town.
Through the spring and into the summer, RLH foisted his musical ineptness across the country and back again. Laying waste Coffee Houses and small Bar venues with his own style of performing.
He arrived back in New York in August.
A "Producer" (whom shall remain nameless because RL. can not recall it), in a fit of derangement, was deluded enough to invite RLH to join a gathering of others to perform in Greenwich Village.
Thus the first seed of later RLH theme concerts was planted at the Washington Square Church, in September of 1969. Although not a full-fledged solo endeavor the program marked the first time RL. Haney used the thematic concept in his own performance.
This program was to benefit environmental causes, this being the heyday of the "Back to Nature " movement, the rise of Earth day and the selling of millions of copies of the Whole Earth Catalog. Typically New Yorkish, what better place to hold such an event but in the heart of Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Where the rich inhabitants vacationed in the Hamptons in summer and mingled with the poor, confused, artistic, insane, and inane during the winter back home. Stuck somewhere between Wall Street and Park Avenue.
The program itself was divided into three sections. If there was a united thread to each of the "Acts" it escapes memory now, years later, as have the names of the other performers. (For those of you who like research; there was a review in a prestigious New York magazine and a few other places around October of that year.)
In the first section a performer/pianist instigated a suite on what is known as a "prepared Piano". This being a grand piano with its lid open and various objects, chosen for their tonality - it is supposed, were placed on or under the strings. Producing the melodic combination of clean notes and garbage cans rattling in an alleyway.
The second section was the presentation of a homage to The Native Americans and their environmental interaction with the Land. Only then they were known as Indians and their lands were called Reservations. RLH performed. First, an introduction on guitar while narrating a short tale of the conflicts between the Natives and the Whites. Next, all stage lights faded except a single spotlight on RLH, with a Ho'Ta Drum, he performed a combined Corn planting and Season prayer/chant. This concluded with a syrupy, just short of maudlin, epilogue on the state of affairs between the Aim movement and The BIA. A political statement of little information, not much note and probably out of place in a non-political performance. RLH received compliments and good reviews after the program - without note of the epilogue, which is as it should have been.
In the third section of the program a round of songs were sung, each song related to your friend and mine, Mother Nature. This was done not by any synchronized placing of singer and song to each other but eight different songs being sung by eight different singers at eight different tempo's at the same time. The evening concluded with a rousing (?) sing-a-long with the cast and audience of Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land. The dust bowl singers' memory once again having been resurrected in the name of a worthy cause.
Having felt that the masses at large had suffered enough, if abet a small measure of RLH's abilities, he was either kind enough or stricken with just enough poverty to fall into a Trolls sleep for the next couple of years.
Then fell the Fall of 1971 and the Horrid Troll dreams awakened another fit of creative urge.
Having involved himself with Focus Community Center on West 74th street, Manhattan, in 1970, RLH decided that it was once again time to step forward and face the music.
At some time in the past RLH had come upon the idea that to do "Justice" to his perverse idea of performance, short of locking an unsuspecting audience in the room (which was against the Fire Laws) he would have to mount a thematic show where he could control the output.
Narrator: So what's this thing about Control? What do you mean by that, I mean
You certainly don't come off as a control freak...maybe just a Freak.
RLH Well, you know Narr, I rarely play other peoples music, if I do they aren't really "Covers" - in the old sense of the word, a copy of someone else's style and arrangements, but that's neither here nor there - my ability to play guitar is limited by my ability to play the guitar.
I do not have a wide range of other people's material at my fingertips and this is only because I do not play well enough, not because my tastes are limited.
Narr. "O.K., get to the point I haven't all day here you know.
RLH: It's just that because I do mostly my own stuff.
Material which has had very limited exposure. I do not seek out auditions, nor have I the ability to do "Bar" sets, Weddings, Bar mitzvahs, and the like. In the back old days some dreamer would get a small group together, practice in the garage or basement and then go looking for gigs. I've never done that. Although I love interacting - sometimes too much- with an audience, for me it's the material - mostly the words and overall feel of the song that gets me.
It's those thoughts and feelings that I want to put out there.
Narr: Get on with it will you!
RLH: After a while you'd go off and hire a hall, rent musicians, as your former group had been sneaking death threats into your mail, and you'd play a "Concert". Well I've never had a deep pool of musicians to fish from.
Narr: Don't you mean Rent a Hall, Hire musicians?
RLH: No. Now with this show we're talking about, I decided I'd have to come up with a way to get others to play my stuff. I'd have to get some unsuspecting, poverty stricken people so desperate for a buck that they'd play what I needed played.
Thus was born the RL concept of Hiring Halls and Renting musicians.
I'd find a suitable dump - in this case the Focus, a Hall that offered contemporary folk music on a regular basis and therefore had a small, loyal, built in audience base.
(Let's not forget that I also had some swing in getting the place as I was on the Board of Directors.)
As for musicians I found some very good but cheap people to pay to play. This let me control all aspects of the show. I also did the PR, posters, ads, mail lists and such stuff. In a regular group situation everyone should have some say or at least agree on a goal and a spokesman. Performers further up the food chain often have producers that help put together a backup group for the Headliner. Most young performers do not have this option. By the time they reach those heights they have gone through the small band group experience and have friends, or maybe family, to draw from for backup - needless to say I have neither.
Narr: Excuse me, I must have drifted off. Did you answer the question?
RLH: I think I did, we'll listen to the tape later, O.K.?
Narr: Yea, sure, whatever.
Advertised with a black and white poster of a Skeleton wearing a Stetson, playing a guitar and proclaiming " Focus proudly (sic) presents: RLH and the Corpses: The Concert of Death" the public was invitingly urged to attend. Some, who either had nothing to do in all of Manhattan or were too stoned to know where they were, actually attended.
RLH was supported by Bass, Lead guitar, Piano, occasional flute, and for one night a musical saw player he had found in Central Park the afternoon before the second show.
With the exception of four songs all material were RL originals. The concept, revealed in the printed programs and in bits and pieces of narrative throughout the performance, presented the idea that all creative work - preserved in writing or un-displayed - lay dead, gathering dust on the shelves until taken down and explored.
Those half forgotten poems, novels, songs, collections of plays, and art are all dead to ones' world until rediscovered.
The songs are meant to present images of thoughts, lines, ideas that we carry around in us from other influences over the years.
We need not have read "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night " for years for it's very essence and lines to be called forth when faced with the real life oncoming death of someone we love.
Thus this "Concert Of Death" was the re-exploring of those things we have laid aside, stored somewhere in the back of our minds. Here in celebration of the act of influence we dust off these ideas and arts to restir, rekindle, and resurrect someone's efforts to deal with life as they knew it, perhaps even our own words from years past.
RLH has rarely mentioned that every time he sees a daisy on a hillside field he is reminded of the colors from Ferdinand the Bull. But the whole idea must be just that!
The show ran for two nights, sold out to standing room both nights -(with many at the rear doors trying to pick the locks to get out.) It may be odd to note but the program made a profit and these were donated to the Focus general fund later.
In the late summer of 1972 RLH was at it again with another bit of musical drivel.
Simply titled "Concert of Death, Volume Two" the next attempt appeared at the same location, with much of the design and material the same as before. The backup was similar to the now rarely thought of "Volume one". Without the musical saw, flute or piano- O.K. it seemed about the same. Anyway it was again two nights, made its profit, and faded from everyone's memory as fast as possible. (It did get a favorable review in one of NYC's underground papers, but which one is anybody's guess.)
In 1974, an event happened that some consider one of RLH's greatest innovations.
One which filled RLH audiences with awe and pleased the general public at large as well. An RLH concert, without RLH. What A Concept!!
Throughout the year of 1973, RL. had been creatively(?) engaged in the building of two full blown electronic works. Buried in stacks of tape, machines, mixers and such he had managed to clutter up eighty per cent of his living space for several months.
Although crowded he did not seem to mind, and even if aware the public would not have cared.
From His pre-adolescent days (which some maintain he never left) RLH has always had a deep respect and fondness for the electronic music creators. Often when asked, over the years by an unsuspecting public, what type of music he played RL has usually used the phrase " Hank Williams, Sr. meets Karlez Stockhausen ". (Since that long ago time, even more people are less familiar with Stockhausen's name then were then so the phrase has been updated to use Phillip Glass instead, although the meaning is not the same and the description is not at all accurate, no one seems to care one way or the other.)
Edgar Varese, Milton Babbit, Max V. Mathews (to some extent), Iannis Xenakis, Harry Partch and Stockhausen have always found favor to the ear of RL.
These are talents and composers who have consistently stimulated his concepts of sound and presentation. Had time turned back and he could have begun as a serious composer these would be some of the forces he would have emulated. Just think, today he could be as less listened to and appreciated as these greats are. Something to strive for indeed.
"Tale Of The City " and " During The Silence Of Nocturne They Ate Of Lateus " were the results of a years work. Unfortunately for RL and most fortunate for everyone else, the "Tale Of The City", master tape, notes and score (Yes it was scored -in a manner of his own) was first water damaged, and then lost completely before it could be foistered onto an audience. RLH still harbors a nostalgic feeling for this lost work, though he will admit -after all these years, that perhaps Nostalgia is not what it used to be.
" During The Silence Of Nocturne They Ate Of Lateus ", is a sound tale of Demons and Imps stealing bites of the magic stone -Lacteus- placed on the eyes of a circled Wizard so visions may be induced. The original work ran 1 hour and forty minutes in length, shorter versions were later built.
Nocturne/Lateus was debuted at Focus Community Center, March 19th, 1974.
In the playlet it was billed as another part of the "Concert of Death" series - only in small type [This billing meant something to RL- probably not to anyone else]. The performance hall was fitted out with Eighteen various sized speakers, rented four channel Amp and Preamps, and one Tannberg four track stereo reel to reel tape player. The Player was mounted on a stand located center stage and below it was a variable light pattern machine of RL's design.
The light machine did not react to the tones of the work but supplied smoothing ever changing color sweeps and patterns unto its 22x26 inch screen. The only other effects were two mini-spots focused on each of the two reels of the machine.
RLH presented a short (Strange to say) introduction from the stage then went downstairs to drink wine, while the audience attempted to listen to this work, perhaps dreaming of other places they would rather be. Not expecting a large audience the first night RLH was not disappointed. However the following night the program was repeated and the hall was filled. Which goes to show that one cannot always count on the Word-Of-Mouth theory.
Several days after the presentation, someone who worked for the NY listener sponsored radio station WBAI, approached RL. and asked to hear the work privately.
The result of this meeting being that Nocturne/Lateus -in an edited version- was broadcast in October of 1974 and re-broadcast over several years on a regular basis. The work also managed to make it onto the west coast station Pacifica and aired there for some years.
Along the way the master tape has crumbled into dust and the studio copies RL received from the broadcasts have been lost or misplaced. The work is now available only as one of the short versions, on a cassette, made from copies of copies. Though this does not preserve the length, tonal crispness, and subtle ranges of the Master, at least one can get some idea of what RL was striving for with this work.
Nocturne/Lateus is one on RL's proudest accomplishments. Given the advances in audio equipment, computers and such, he looks forward to the day when he can return to this form of first love and let his inner ear expound further.
REVISED DRAFT OF THE FUTURE " WAITING AT THE LOST STATION "
For a while the public was treated to an absence of RLH talent binges.
Another full-blown RLH concert was not unleashed on the unwary until 1976.
Between '74 and the fall of '76, RL busied himself with the operating of his own small business. Focus Community Center had the inevitable internal political struggles. A way of life for most of the small "not-for-profit" organizations of the late sixties - early seventies. The times had changed indeed. Ideas of political and social thought, the concepts of " do your own thing" - in harmony, and " It's your own bag" gave way to other forces. Commercial Money and Drugs being the more prevalent signs of the "artistic" change. Musically the Rolling Stones hosted a stabbing, The Beatles hosted lawsuits, Dylan was hosting his own ghost and Elvis was bursting from his white jumpsuit into a mass of narcotic sludge. In art - Warhol, Leichenstein, and Christo stole the limelight from the paintbrush and inner personal art. If it peaked the emotions, investigated feelings, contained anything remotely connected with "romantic" styles it was Out. Commercial Cold, the stylistic though vapid appearance of industrial design and illusionary pragmatism was In.
What better artistic realm in which to hoist yet another old- fashioned RLH romantic, maudlin, melancholy, theme concert. Thus "Seascape" was designed, organized, advertised, and shoved out the doors.
Once again the site of this small link to tragedy was the Focus, which was on its last legs as a not-for-profit outfit. Some may say that it was somewhat fitting that this last of the full blown RLH theme concerts should have taken place on a stage that would very shortly start a new life as host to a Laundromat.
Of course some may also point out that the club did not close until after RLH played there.
Seascape was ambitious, if not near professional quality. The elements had been designed well before hand. The tunes were either written or chosen with a stronger thematic concern than the several shows before it. Although RLH maintains that the show was indeed another chapter in the Concert of Death series, it was not advertised as such and if anyone cared one way or the other no one mentioned it.
The cast of misfits included a bass player, a lead guitarist, and Mr. Peter Dabrowski on piano (His twin brother George played flute on two or three tunes). To everyone's dismay, RLH actually made motions to play his guitar. There was also a sound engineer to handle the mixing and play-deck boards.
"WE didn't know who he was before the show, and we're still not sure!"
~one lively comment after an RLH concert in 1975
"Well, thank GOD he's gone back to whatever planet he came from!"
~such was one comment when RLH announced that he would no longer be appearing at the Walbert Inn's Famous Open Mic Night
"Nothing could match his performance at the Weinwalker Café."
RLH steadfastly maintains, "When one plays one's own songs, no one knows when one is playing them wrong." But this is indeed Brevity devoutly
to be wished.
"This collection proves once again that no matter the time span, it just doesn't get any better than this... no matter how hard RL tries to improve."
Actually we only have an idea for the cover but we’ll be working on it, really we will.