My years of making music in New York City coincided at various times with Elliott Sharp’s. Our musical worlds, however, rarely overlapped. I was playing blues and country music; accompanying singer-songwriters, both struggling and famous; and playing in pop bands that were trying to get record deals (my more avant-garde efforts would come later). Elliott, on the other hand, was at the nexus of all the art that was pushing the envelope during that period, and is still to this day. I never saw him perform live or met him until shortly before I left New York to move to Nashville in 2012, and then it was in a wonderful duo performance with Mary Halvorson.
I have wanted to get Elliott Sharp in the magazine for years. With a musical history spanning over thirty years, he practically qualifies as a pioneer in the world of modern guitar. A new record Rub Out The Word [Infrequent Seams] features the guitarist providing electronic soundscapes that interact with Steve Buscemi reading the words of William Burroughs. This perfect pairing made it the ideal time to present E# in Guitar Moderne.
Photo: Peter Gannushkin
At the risk of seeming nostalgic for past glories of a genre that should be all about the future, let me ask: Where are the events like this today? Barring the occasional Nels Cline/Bill Frisell or Eivind Aarset/David Kollar duet, where are the collaborations of modern guitarists of this caliber on view in this video? Feel free to chime in, if you know of recent ones I’ve missed.
The concert was fabulously filmed—the camera usually focuses on the guitarist creating the foreground sound. What seems an old VHS or Beta transfer doesn’t look too bad, even in full screen, and the sound is quite clear as well. Check it out fast, as these channels have a way of being shut down.
It pains me that I won’t be able to make it to NY for this but any fans of modern guitar living in or around the city should be be in heaven (Thanks to Downtown Music Gallery for the listings):
Fri Dec 20th: FRED FRITH/JESSICA LURIE/ALLISON MILLER at Shapeshifter 7pm
Sat Dec 21st: FRED FRITH/IKUE MORI/LOTTE ANKER/JIM BLACK at 8 & 10pm!
Sun Dec 22nd: FRED FRITH & IKUE MORI at 10pm!