Sometimes it takes great modern players to demonstrate new ways in which the electric guitar can be used to creatively enhance the song form: Belew/Fripp in King Crimson, David Torn with David Bowie, Stian Westerhus with his band Pale Horses, and now Markus Schneider on his new record Widerspruch, where he intones evocative vocals over glitchy guitar. This Viennese guitarist contacted me and I checked out some live videos, where his cool Hofner immediately caught my eye. I decided an interview was in order.
Big Ears starts Thursday. For those of you attending, here is a sample of the amazing guitar performances planned. For those of you who can’t make it, here is what you will be missing. There are still General Admission tix available, so if you can get to Knoxville this week, please do.
Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan
Sun of Goldfinger
Mary Halvorson and Code Girl
Wow! Last week saw Guitar Moderne’s viewing stats more than triple, with a slew of new subscribers signing up and a host of new followers on Instagram. First, thanks to all the new fans; I will try to keep posting things of interest to guitarists interested in everything about moving the instrument forward. I am trying to figure out what caused the jump. All I can imagine is that I put up two posts about Bill Frisell in rapid succession. I deduce it was the Guitar Moderne equivalent of Guitar Player magazine putting Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn on the cover to boost sales in years past. I will, of course, continue to cover this modern guitar pioneer, as well as other icons like David Torn, and Nels Cline. I would hope you also check out the lesser known players I post as well.
I hope you will indulge me in a little personal reminiscing. I was living in New York City, sometime between 1982 and 1984, when I saw an ad in The Village Voice announcing bassist Percy Jones playing at The Bitter End, a small club on Bleecker Street with a band called Stone Tiger. I was a fan of Jones from his work with Brand X. The ad may have mentioned the other band members, but I had no idea who they were and it was Jones’ name that enticed me to go. Stone Tiger was a trio, with drums and guitar. The guitarist was wielding a Roland 300 guitar synthesizer, but it was not the primitive synth sounds he was getting that astounded me. Whether using the synth or the typical guitar pickups, this was the most revolutionary rethinking of the electric guitar I had heard since Jimi Hendrix played my college gymnasium almost two decades prior. He used a volume pedal to swell notes in from the ether, only to return them through delay and reverb. Echoes of country licks appeared amidst jazz harmonies. The abstraction of his solos made Jeff Beck’s seem hyper-linear. Who was this guy??!!
On my first trip back to New York in two years, I lucked out in the modern guitar department. First I was able to meet with Ralph Gibson the fabulous photographer/musician at his studio for a wide-ranging discussion of photography, music, and life. Then, a random Facebook post revealed that Mike Baggetta was playing in Brooklyn with Jerome Harris, Billy Mintz— and Nels Cline on lap steel!
No Nels but this will give you an idea of the music.