Way back when, before dank memes and Brangelina, there was no such thing as recording. A thing would happen and then it would be gone. A story, a song, history, everything was passed on by word of mouth. The art of storytelling was more than an art, it was a link to everything that once existed.
I’m not a historian and i certain don’t know jack about early civilizations and the evolution storytelling, but if this life we’re living today was the book “The Giver,” then Karl Schwarz would be playing the title character. He’s got that in his blood, that link to the past. It’s been stirring under his skin since his early days kicking up in Tennessee, listening to (he lists all kinds of scratchy old blues musicians i’ve never heard of with names like Parcell Wallace and Dirty Mud Pullcreed).
Now, in this age where every moment is documented by iPhones, ProTools, the Government, and jerks like me, it’s easy to forget the importance of people like Karl. We have an oversaturation of content, but that doesn’t necessarily expand the scope of what we’re exposed to. In fact, it can cause tunnel vision, giving you an opportunity to spend even more time with the art that you’re already familiar with. I have a friend who has an entire CD booklet that’s full of live Phish performances. Ok, that’s fine, but let me get to the point –
What people like Karl provide is a distant world that the average person doesn’t expose itself to. He keeps the spirit of delta blues alive and takes it with him wherever he goes, and when he plays, you go there too. Our modern world is terrific. I can turn my phone into a vuvuzela when i’m watching a soccer match every four years. I know what Miley Cyrus is doing basically every second. But the music that Karl Schwarz plays is important, and it’s beautiful and it tells a story and it’s kept alive by people like him, without whom, it could easily slip through our perpetually swiping-left fingers.
He says this all much more eloquently and succinctly at his website, www.karlaugustineschwarz.com
Karl Schwarz sounds best late at night with a glass of whiskey (or his own moonshine), so we got some whiskey at around 3:00 am last Wednesday and then found a tractor in the middle of Houston Street, still cooling off from a scorching summer day. He got up on the wheel without a prompt from me, and i turned the camera on and let the Giver giveth.