Acoustic Guitar Thanksgiving Holiday

Bob Burnett: I went on a bit of an acoustic guitar tear over this long weekend thanks in part to my friend's (thanks DROP!) suggestion that I check into the world of Sir Richard Bishop. Bishop is known as one of the members of Sun City Girls but also has a quite impressive solo career going. Over the weekend I've picked-up three of his albums: Salvador Kali, Improvika and While My Guitar Gently Bleeds. One of the reviews on emusic said Bishop's playing sounded "like a retarded child fumbling aimlessly on an acoustic guitar" which immediately made me thing "Wow! This must be great!". I like his hard, plucky improvisational sound, his Robbie Basho-inspired extended raga meets blues modal approach and his willingness to go "out" of key and push what he's doing--he even pushes the supposed boundaries of the Django Reinhart tradition! Thank goodness his playing is not safe at all and because of that makes for great textural and dynamic music.

Another acoustic player I've been really enjoying is Glenn Jones. I first became aware of Jones due to his playing in Cul de Sac. Their album ECIM is an essential get by the way. Jones has two John Fahey-tradition solo acoustic albums I know of: This Is the Wind That Blows Out and Against Which the Sea Continually Beats. Jones has a softer, more elegant sound than Bishop. I'd call it more refined if that was something that advanced the description. These are meditative finger-picked perfection albums. Granted, they are well-groomed but not glossy. I find them both to be easy to have on, beautifully played "sunrise music".

Finally in the out there and intriguing catagory is R. Keenan Lawler's Table of the Elements label release Music for the Bluegrass States. Lawler plays what is called a "resonator guitar" to create avant garde bluegrass abstractions. This music is spare, open, drifting and very interesting. He finds strands of "tradition" and breaks it apart. He skillfully takes what would be a two minute composition, opens it up and somehow makes it a completely interesting upwards of 25 minutes worth of abstraction--as heard in the winner of the c60 Sun Ra-like song title "The Air on Mars is Hard to Breathe, We'll Just Have to Stay in Louisville" . John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes, Eugene Chadbourne's acoustic textures for solo guitar also shine through for me. One reviewer said Tony Conrad meets John Fahey. Hmmmm. Okay. I'll accept that. He has a nice myspace page going that offers the chance to explore a bit.

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