Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SURFIN' WITH STEENHUIS


I came across this record and bought it based off of the cover art alone. Little did I know what an amazing story there was behind the man holding that beautiful guitar. This amazing story is written on the back cover and I had to share it with you. 

REMEMBER Les Paul - the first genius of "home grown" multi-guitar dubbing? 
   Today, he has a rival, and his techniques have been surpassed. Wout Steenhuis, 
the Dutch-born guitar wizard who looks like he's becoming one of the big stars of 1964,
learnt his jazz the hard way - in Holland under the German occupation. When he 
was a student he listened to black market jazz records - banned by the Germans 
as "decadent" - every day, using "illegal" equipment centered around a radio glued
under a bookshelf which he used as an amplifier. Every bar of jazz that he heard
could have spelled his death warrant, for radios were confiscated and the unceasing
quest for them resulted in house-to-house searches almost every day in The Hague, 
where Wout lived. 
       Nevertheless, the young jazz fan not only heard illicit records: he helped to 
found the famous Dutch Swing College Band in 1943, played his guitar at secret
parties, and moved into a flat with Peter Schilperoort, the band's leader, to start
on the road to becoming one of the country's top jazz musicians. Wout had planned
originally to take a science degree, but, in 1940, the Germans forbade him going to 
university because his father was in England. "We formed the band," says Wout, 
"with the idea of helping young people in The Hague to keep in touch with music
and cultures which the Nazis would not tolerate." Often there were police raids,
and once the band had to leave so quickly that they were forced to sacrifice their
instruments - including Wout's pride and joy, a Hawaiian guitar he had made 
himself from that bookshelf! 
        By 1944, there was no public transport, no electricity and hardly any food. 
Life in the city was intolerable - and jazz became forgotten in the search for necessities. 
Wout joined a resistance group and exchanged his guitar for a sten gun and grenades. 
He was captured by the Germans at Christmas, 1944, and sent to a concentration 
camp at Amersfoort. He was among a lorry load of prisoners condemned to death 
when he escaped by leaping over the side, running across a minefield, and hiding in 
a wood. Soon he was back with the resistance near his home town. 
       In May, 1945, the day before liberation, Steenhuis's right elbow was shattered 
by a bullet in a battle with the Germans. He was unconscious for 4 days and awoke
to find that his arm had been set in such a way that he could never again play the 
guitar. Eventually he cojoled the busy surgeon into breaking the arm again and 
re-setting it so that he could return to music when he was discharged from the hospital. 
In time, he re-joined the Dutch Swing College Band and became one of its most 
successful stars. 
        In 1948, he went to England to join his father as co-director of a fruit preserving 
business on the Kent coast. Music was relegated to the position of a hobby until 
some of his experiments, recording his own multi-track guitar "ensembles" on tape, 
interested a radio producer. There followed a long radio series, many TV engage-
ments, and a series of successful one night stands which resulted last year in a peak-
hour show on Southern Television, "Three Of A Kind." 
       Today, married, with a 12-year-old son, Wout Steenhuis is a master of the 
Hawaiian guitar, the electric bass, the electric jazz guitar, the acoustic Spanish 
guitar, the ukelele - and of a black-horned monstrosity frequently used by the noisier 
popular record groups . . . all of which, with the aid of his tape recorder, he uses
on this incredibly accomplished and wildly swinging album. The return of the 
Hawaiian guitar, coupled with Steenhuis's mastery of its rhythmic fellows, makes
this dynamic collection of the current "surf music" rave in fact "the greatest one-
man show in the business." 



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