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Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'll miss you, Bert Jansch.

One of my favourite folk heroes died yesterday after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.
Picture from the Guardian.

Bert Jansch was a huge inspiration to generations of musicians. Artists such as Nick Drake, Led Zeppelin, and Devendra Banhart wouldn't be who they are/were without the influence of his work.

Jansch was one of the leaders of the British folk music revival of the 1960s, and he released 23 albums in his lifetime. His virtuosity at the guitar made him stand alone in a sea of wannabe folkies.

I was lucky enough to see Bert Jansch play when he opened for Neil Young last year at the Centennial Concert Hall. I hate to be melodramatic, but I had tears in my eyes as he commanded a room full of rowdy Neil Young fans with his soft voice and gentle yet impressive strumming.

One of my favourite Bert Jansch songs is his cover of "Black Waterside", a traditional folk tune that many artists have recorded.

I remember hearing it on the radio a few years ago. The announcer mistakenly introduced it as "Bert Jansch's laid-back version of a classic Led Zeppelin song." I was so enraged I tried phoning in to correct her, only to discover it was a pre-recorded broadcast.

During intermission at the Neil Young show, my brother told me he thought Bert Jansch sounded like Jimmy Page. I promptly replied, "No, no, no - Jimmy Page sounds like Bert Jansch."

Rest in peace, Bert.

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