Onetime glam-rocker David Johansen
is digging deep into the roots of American folk music with his David
Johansen and the Harry Smiths.
Johansen, who was the lead singer of the notorious New York Dolls
and in the ‘80s pointed another generation of music fans in the direction of hipster swing as Buster Poindexter, is only the latest of several modern artists to turn back to folklorist Harry Smith for inspiration. Moby, for instance,
sampled several tracks off Smith’s recently re-released Anthology of
American Folk Music for his album Play (1999).
In its original incarnation, Anthology of American Folk Music was
credited with inspiring the ‘60s generation of folk singers that included
Bob Dylan, Joan
Baez and Pete Seeger.
On David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, the band covers such
material as "Well, I’ve Been to Memphis" (RealAudio excerpt), by an unknown writer, and "Don’t Start Me Talking" (RealAudio excerpt) by Sonny Boy Williamson, a song the Dolls covered on their second album, 1974’s In Too Much Too Soon.
Joining Johansen in the Harry Smiths are Brian Koonin on guitar and mandolin, Kermit Driscoll on bass and didgeridoo, Larry Saltzman on guitar and banjo and Joey Baron on percussion. Johansen and the band will celebrate the album’s release with two shows at New York City’s Bottom Line on Friday.