Thursday, 19 March 2015

Mandola Man

RIP Mr Ralph Settle, my mother Ruth​ just informed me of his passing. He was famous around Truro for his busking sessions on the mandola. People thought it was a banjo, and called him the Banjo Man. During the course of this short film, which I hope a few people will watch, following Ralph five years ago, around the time that I met him, he corrects this mistake: "They can call me the fucking Frankfurter Man if they like." "It's a mandola, it's an octave lower than a mandolin." The film fails to show enough of his playing, which was very lyrical. It also fails to include some of his jokes, which were pretty ripe, and his stories about being stationed in North Africa during WWII, which were concretely troubling and delivered with visceral energy and language. I was regularly shocked out of my expectations of talking with an octogenarian. But it does gather together enough to illuminate a little of his fiery spirit.

He liked to play around with some of the effects on his small amp, and consequently he added a psychy twang to the echoey lanes around the square in front of Truro cathedral. I visited his house once, and hoped to record him playing some of his favourite tunes. I also hoped to entice him to play an opening slot at one of the gigs I was promoting in Penryn at the time, for The Black Twig Pickers​ ​- he seemed uncertain about the idea, and I never really followed it up, which of course feels like a shame in retrospect. Anyhow, something for everyone in this film, and depending on the destination of his spirit, and your own tastes, perhaps he can take up the banjo in the afterlife.

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