Donovan brings his hurdy-gurdy sounds to the Central Coast.
By Adam Joseph
Hippie folk sensation Donovan was the pied piper of the flower
children, and his hits like "Season of the Witch" and "Sunshine
Superman" continue to be potent reminders for baby boomers of those
acid-fueled Sunday afternoons in the park.
Donovan kicks off his "Ritual Groove Tour" named after his
forthcoming album at the Golden State Theatre, 8pm on Friday with a
solo acoustic set followed by an electric set with his band. Keeping
with the counterculture sensibility, he ensures the show will be "a
fragrant evening of music, poetry, colour and aroma."
The Scottish musician began to gain notoriety around the United
Kingdon in 1965 when he was 18 with hits like "Catch The Wind.'' He
was featured in D.A. Pennebaker's 1967 documentary Don't Look Back
about Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England. In one scene, the mop-headed
pixie plays a sweet rendition of his ballad, "To Sing For You," only
to be trumped by Dylan's mindbending version of "It's All Over Now,
Baby Blue." Game, set and match.
As was the fashion at the time, the British media in England had
dubbed Donovan,"The U.K.'s answer to Bob Dylan" and he was at the
forefront of the folk scene, performing with Joan Baez and Pete Seeger.
Donovan continued to expand his musical style: straddling the folkie
feel of early Dylan and the experimental psychedelia of the Beatles' Revolver.
He fuses acoustic guitar with the pleasant tootles of a clarinet on
"Jennifer Juniper;" on "Hurdy Gurdy Man," he adds a distinct vibrato
to his voice against the backdrop of sitar shrieks.
As a British artist in the '60s, it was only natural that Donovan and
The Beatles would cross creative paths: He contributed lyrics to The
Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," and Paul McCartney sang background
vocals on "Mellow Yellow."
"The ['60s] changed the cultural landscape through ideas and songs
about inner discovery, spiritualism, mediation, yoga, ecology and
feminism. I shared this mission with Dylan and The Beatles, among
others," Donovan told uncut magazine.
After dropping out of the scene for nearly 30 years, Donovan's career
has been revived over the past decade. He's toured worldwide,
released studio albums and, in 2005, his autobiography, The Hurdy
Gurdy Man. The New York Times called the memoir, "… a very strange
book (what else?) that revisits the fertile, trippy '60s… "
Donovan continues to be one of our direct links to the peace-and-love
DONOVAN performs 8pm Friday, at Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado
St. 372-3800. $29/$59/$79.