This interview is a little different for Guitar Moderne. While I have featured, what I call, Roots Moderne records in the past, this is my first interview with a Roots Moderne player. Peter Parcek approaches the blues with the idea of making it his own, rather than presenting a retro reproduction of the genre. His record Mississippi Suitcase demonstrates a deep understanding of the blues coupled with an ear for modern sounds and production. When I learned that we both lived in London, albeit a couple of years apart, in the 60s, I thought it would also be fun to discuss some of the musicians we saw in that time and place, who were themselves pushing the blues envelope.
There were many terrific records in 2017. In another year, Charlie Rauh’s Viriditas, Dan Phelps’ Arc, and Rights by Manuel Troller’s band Schnellertollermeier might have fit on my “Best of…” list. But this year saw so many releases by modern guitar superstars that I just have to recommend reserving some money to also pick up their worthy efforts.
This list is mine; feel free to list yours in the comment section.
With his Bigsby-equipped 1953 Les Paul fitted with a Firebird pickup in the bridge and its P-90 in the neck, run through his Korg SDD-3000 digital delay into his Tweed Fenders, Daniel Lanois spews forth pure rock and roll emotion in this rehearsal video A bonanza for fans of his personal style of playing and unique sound.
Someone recently asked me to define roots moderne. Bursting Blue Bone Bark, the Berlin-based project of Knox Chandler and Eric Mingus, epitomizes the answer. Chandler’s combination of National steel guitar and iPad apps, joins Mingus’ guttural blues shouting and vocal noises for music as primal as the Aborigines and modern as tomorrow.
As I write this, I am not even halfway through this record and we are not even halfway through 2016. Still, Lucinda Williams’ The Ghosts of Highway 20 already rates as one of the best Roots Moderne records of the year.
When I interviewed Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz about Guitar in the Space Age for Premier Guitar in 2014, they had just finished recording with Williams for Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. They appear together on a couple of tracks on that record, but Frisell told me at that time there was an amazing record in the can, made up entirely of the two guitarists interacting live with Williams and her rhythm section. The Ghosts of Highway 20 is that record.
Early Lucinda with a another pair of great guitarists, John “JJ” Jackson (Bob Dylan), and Kenny Vaughn (Marty Stuart) who studied with Bill Frisell as a young man in Colorado.