Just in time for the holiday that inspired its name, comes Shawn Persinger’s Halloween Baptizm. A problem with much “guitar music” is that it is too much “guitar” and not enough “music.” Much as I love the idiosyncratic nature of the instrument, other than noise-based or ambient guitar, I prefer guitars playing music I can imagine being performed just easily on piano, horns, strings, or vocals. Shawn Persinger’s Halloween Baptizm is just such music. As I listen to him play the overdubbed parts on 6-string, 12-string, nylon-string, and bass, I can easily picture a string quartet of viola, violin, cello, and bass playing these themes.
Also to be admired is Persinger’s ambition. Halloween Baptizm is not just a record. In addition to a CD, he has created a book of tablature and notation for those who might like to recreate this music with any instruments,
as well as a book/diary, Nobody Knows I’m Famous.
The diary is a frank, insightful, and charmingly self-deprecating book documenting the process of creating this project. Along the way it illustrates what it means to be a prolific, eccentric, somewhat successful, though relatively unknown, musician in the twenty-first century. It is required reading for anyone trying to negotiate the modern music world, not so much as a how-to, but rather as a traveling companion, providing companionship and sympathy for those of us trying to make our way. You may find yourself alternately nodding in assent or shaking your head in disagreement with Persinger’s observations. Either way you will be stimulated and entertained, some of the same reactions the guitarist hopes to provoke with his art.