“Back there was something ELSE!” writes Bob Dylan in a 2004 handwritten note reproduced on the inner sleeve of Bruce Langhorne’s 2011 solo release Tambourine Man. “Like they say,” Dylan continues, “it was better to be in chains with friends than in a garden with strangers.”
The “back there” of Dylan’s message refers to New York in the 1960s, where Langhorne forged a reputation as one of the most important session guitarists of the emerging folk-rock scene. Toting a Turkish frame drum around the studio, he inspired the song “Mr. Tambourine Man” and features prominently throughout Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home (1965). “Friends” included the likes of Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Peter LaFarge, Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie and even Hugh Masekela. Check the credits for Bra Hugh’s signature 1968 single “Grazing in the Grass” and you’ll find Bruce Langhorne on guitar.
Although he composed film scores in the 70s and 80s, Tambourine Man is essentially Bruce Langhorne’s first solo album in a fifty year recording career. It’s an eclectic set that reflects a myriad of world influences traversing Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s also laced with the kind of devilish humour that could only come from a man who invented an African Hot Pepper Sauce! Be sure to check out Langhorne’s slow maskanda treatment of “Mary Had a Little Lamb“ (replete with slide bass, spoken word bridge and blues harp in lieu of accordion). The album is available on Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby and BruceLanghorne.com. Big up to George Madaraz and Debbie Green of George-Green Studios for producing and many thanks to Maureen Nathan (who attended the CD launch in the US) for bringing an autographed copy back to Cape Town!
A friend of the Tambourine Man and a champion of South African music, Maureen Nathan watched Mama Goema with Bruce Langhorne in Los Angeles. Bruce sent this wonderful message back to the Goema Orchestra:
“Clothe the Naked
Feed the Poor
Keep on Playing Together”