Today is the birthday of Adrian Belew who, for years, has managed to make complex music (Zappa, King Crimson, his own) seem easy and fun. Here are some great sounding, relatively recent, beautifully shot videos of his latest band. The man keeps growing and evolving, while magically making digital guitar sounds that are warm and human.
If anyone were to be into pedals it would be the modern guitarist. Granted there are a few who play only acoustic, and even fewer who exclusively play plugged straight into the amplifier, but the majority of modern guitarists are to some extent looking to find new sounds in the electric realm and pedals help them go there. The firmament of modern guitar heaven is filled with gods who use a plethora of stompboxes in their quest for sonic freshness. Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, David Torn, Nick Reinhardt, and others employ effect pedals as an essential part of their artistry.
For them, and guitarists of all stripes, this year has seen the release of, not one, but two books (actually three) devoted to these playable, collectable, fetish-encouraging devices.
I believe BibiAudiofil2 was gone from YouTube for a while but now is back. He is a Romanian music fan who has somehow amassed the most amazing collection of modern music videos I I have ever seen. For modern guitar fans, this includes vintage live footage of players like Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal (a bonanza of videos), Marc Ribot, Pat Metheny, David Torn (with Don Cherry in 1979!), John McLaughlin, and Ralph Towner. Get over to the site while you have time and before he gets taken down.
Here is Eivind Aarset with the band that started the Guitar Moderne journey for me.
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.
In my video intro I say I first saw Gerry Leonard with Jonatha Brooke in in San Francisco. I might be wrong about that, but once I moved back to New York I saw him often in his guise as Spooky Ghost, both solo and with an amazing band, performing feats of looping magic while singing haunting, Gaelic-tinged, original songs. One of those nights, in a tiny Tribeca club, I found myself sitting practically on top of David Bowie as he checked Leonard out for his band. The rest is history as Gerry went on to be musical director for David Bowie’s Reality Tour and have his guitar featured on Bowie records, “Heathen,” “Reality,” and “The Next Day.” We discuss that fateful night and much more.