It looks like things are opening up. But if you are like me—not quite ready to hang out around hundreds or thousands of people who may or may not have been vaccinated—you might prefer to stick with the Guitar Moderne virtual festival. Watch some newly available videos by legends Terje Rypdal and Bill Frisell, as well as great performances by A-team modern guitarists Mike Baggetta, Marc Ribot, and Eliot Sharp in the comfort of your disease-free home.
Having published Guitar Moderne for over a decade, I remember when I had heard of most of the interesting modern guitarists out there. These days, there is a spate of names completely unknown to me coming over the transom (actually through email). Chris Sharkey is one, playing left-handed guitars strung standard, with chops to spare and a keen sense of composition. His new record, Presets on Not Applicable Records eschews flurries of notes for new sounds, moods, and textures. We dive deep into Ableton Live, the joys of noise, the London scene in the 2000s and the Leeds scene of today.
One of the best and most interesting guitarists on the New York scene (which means anywhere), Brandon Seabrook combines elements of metal, jazz, punk, noise, and free improv into a guitar style uniquely his own. He also plays banjo in a way that might put all those jokes to rest. He has an amazing new record out with Mike Watt and percussionist, Mike Pride, Stove Top [Rare Noise], under the band name Three Layer Cake. Recorded remotely, it nevertheless sounds interactive and cohesive enough to be mistaken for live, save for the terrific textures and additional instruments they overdubbed. We talk about all of the above, the joys of the ZT amps, and more.
On the occasion of three decades of service to the avant-garde community, I would like to wish Downtown Music Gallery a Happy Birthday, with hopes for many more to come. I encourage you to try them first when seeking out records by modern guitarists so they can continue far into the future. Check out this video of artists paying tribute to this singular shop.
Despite the lockdown, modern guitar releases keep coming apace. Here is the latest bounty from Jessica Ackerley, Jo Jena, Nick Milevoi, Henry Kaiser, a couple of Tim Motzer records, and others. There is still time to get many of these releases on Bandcamp, where today all the proceeds go to the artists, but don’t let that stop you from buying them in subsequent days.