Big Ears Festival 2018

This was my first time attending the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, but it won’t be the last. I was initially drawn to the possibility of seeing Stian Westerhus live, but unfortunately, though originally announced, he was unable to participate. I decided to go anyway, excited to see Nels Cline with Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief and Mayhem, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. My wife Liz and I had been talking about visiting Knoxville for a long time, so the stars seemed to align.

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It’s Here: The Red Panda Tensor

Rumors of this pedal have been flying around since 2015; it has appeared at the last two winter NAMM shows in various forms; but is only now available as Curt Malouin will release no pedal before its time. A while back we touted the Hologram Infinite Jets Resynthesizer as the ultimate modern guitar pedal, and for sheer variety of  non-traditional sounds available in a single pedal it may still reign. But coming up fast is the Red Panda Tensor, with its more board-friendly size, MIDI capability, ease of use, and ease on the pocketbook.

Go to 7:27 to jump to the playing.

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Laptop Guitarist Alert: Hot Hand USB Discontinued

This makes me sad. From when I first encountered Source Audio, back when the original Hot Hand was still tethered to the pedals by a cable, I encouraged the company to target laptop jockeys. I was thrilled when they introduced the Hot Hand USB. It seemed like such a good idea at the time: a way for DJs and electronica musicians to stop looking like they were reading their email, as filter sweeps and other effects could be connected to the performer through their hand movements. I even figured out how to use it with guitar without tying up either hand. (See video below and read the article here ). Unfortunately it never caught on and is being discontinued. If it looks like something you could use, grab one now while they last.

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Introducing: The Messthetics

Congratulations to modern guitarist Anthony Pirog for being lauded in the New York Times. His new band with the rhythm section from the legendary Fugazi recalls Sonny Sharrock, surf music, punk and other influences, while centering them all in a cohesive whole. Look for another interview with Mr. Pirog (as they say in the NYT) soon.

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Spotlight: Sandy Ewen

I have come to realize that Sandy Ewen is something of a rare bird: the Avant performer who began by playing experimentallly, without any background of performing mainstream music with more typical technique. I was lucky to see her on tour in Nashville, in a small enough space to fully experience her unique use of a pan pedal that moves her prepared guitar sounds across the stereo spectrum. Since moving from Houston to New York she has become a fixture on the improv scene there in a surprisingly short time.

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