It looks like many of us will be stuck inside for a while and many of these artists will be losing income due to cancelled shows because—virus. It would be a good time to buy some of these new recordings from Eivind Aarset, Nels Cline, David Torn, Eliot Sharp, and others so they have some money coming in and you have something to do while self-quarantining.
Despite an increasing number of great recordings coming over my transom, three guitarists, Anthony Pirog, David Torn, and Mike Baggetta, dominated this year’s picks with two records each. In addition to being brilliant players who have produced stellar examples of their work on these albums, all the guitarists featured here are out in the trenches preforming live on a regular basis. In no particular order.
In the four years since we spotlighted Mike Baggetta he has been a busy man. He has relocated from New York City to Knoxville, Tennessee; played on David Torn’s Sun of Goldfinger record; gigged with Nels Cline playing lap steel (Cline on steel, not Baggetta), and released Wall of Flowers [Big Ego Records]. The last features a true supergroup power trio, ala a modern day Cream, as Baggetta, Mike Watt, and session legend, Jim Keltner join forces. Knoxville being relatively close to Nashville, Baggetta has been playing here quite a bit and took time before a gig at Rudy’s Jazz Club to come over and talk about Wall of Flowers and the joys of looping with a TimeFactor.
As advertised, Big Ears 2019 was a guitar extravaganza. My wife Liz and I were able to see Bill Frisell, David Torn, Mary Halvorson, Anthony Pirog, and Rafiq Bhatia, some of them multiple times, as well as other, non-guitar improvising legends and newcomers. Once again, venues like the Tennessee Theater, The Bijou Theater, The Standard, and The Mill and the Mine offered stellar sound quality and sight lines, and the local food was fabulous.
Big Ears starts Thursday. For those of you attending, here is a sample of the amazing guitar performances planned. For those of you who can’t make it, here is what you will be missing. There are still General Admission tix available, so if you can get to Knoxville this week, please do.
Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan
Sun of Goldfinger
Mary Halvorson and Code Girl