As advertised, Big Ears 2019 was a guitar extravaganza. My wife Liz and I were able to see Bill Frisell, David Torn, Mary Halvorson, Anthony Pirog, and Rafiq Bhatia, some of them multiple times, as well as other, non-guitar improvising legends and newcomers. Once again, venues like the Tennessee Theater, The Bijou Theater, The Standard, and The Mill and the Mine offered stellar sound quality and sight lines, and the local food was fabulous.
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.
Someone posted some pictures of the guitars Bill Frisell used during his four night residency at the Freight & Salvage in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of them looked very unusual. It was not the typical Tele, Jazzmaster, Strat, or archtop shape he usually favors. I emailed him to ask, “What is that guitar?” Bill was kind enough to answer in detail, as well as sending gorgeous pictures of this unique instrument.