I’m in Baltimore, Maryland, and I’m heading for a record shop. It’s called El Supremo and it’s a good one.
I’ve been in America for two days and I’m already missing the green quiet of my home in Wales. I’m thinking about the grass and fields and all the native dwellers therein. Bugs and worms and smaller type spiders. Centipedes and wood lice. All those things that have no words and can’t speak to us.
My friend and I step into the dim interior and start flicking through stacks of records. Right away I start pulling things out. The rule is: pull out anything that looks interesting. I find a couple records that were produced by the great Clayton Ivey in Muscle Shoals, a clean copy of McCoy Tyner’s Trident, a signed Horace Silver. I have a long, rambling talk with the owner about the best way to clean records and he shows me his back room where he’s set up a cleaning laboratory. He’s using some kind of home built machine that uses ionisers and electrically charged water; on the way back he tells me the toilet is full of singles. So this is the way I spend my Thursday afternoon; in the dim shade of a disheveled shop shifting through records.
Later I’m told that it rained all day in Wales. The stream that cuts through our land is nearly overflowing. That means that the comfrey and nettles will explode, the grass will shoot up, the green will be overwhelming. In Baltimore, walking back to my hotel, I picture the dripping fields and wish I was home.
The next day, in Charlottesville, the good people at WNRN radio tell us about a couple record stores in town. Once again I spend the afternoon looking through records.It’s there I find Thomas Moore Sings Our Community. I buy it without listening to it. It’s everything I want a record to be – private press, no information, a cover that explains nothing.
Three days later I’m home in Wales and put it on the turntable. I stand at my widow watching the swallows circle and the ash trees sway; a tumult of things are growing; I’m surrounded by an explosion of plant and animal life. All while some crazed American children are telling me to do a Crazy Dance. Which, in the chaotic scheme of these things, makes perfect sense.
Jeb and his band play the Caught by the River stage at Port Eliot Festival on Friday 28 July.