One day, I came across Keisuke Matsuno on Don Mount’s YouTube channel. Suddenly it was going, “Who is this guy? This is a kind of guitar I love: exactly the way he does what he does, in the context in which he does it.” Certainly, there are other guitar players playing modern guitar sounds within the context of already outside, noisy, or fully electronic music, like Matsuno’s work with Hans Tammen. Rarer is the ability to inject these elements into a largely consonant context, like Nels Cline with Wilco, Ethan Ballinger’s work with country star Lee Ann Womack, or the subversive playing Matsuno himself does in saxophonist Timo Vollbrecht’s Fly Magic ensemble.
When I first moved back to New York from San Francisco at the turn of the Millennium, I would often go see Wayne Krantz at the 55 Bar. His trio with Keith Carlock and Tim Lefebvre was the emblematic of the city’s energy: daring, cool, creative, in your face. A recent show in Nashville revealed that the guitarist is pushing the sonic and rhythmic elements of improvisation further than ever before. Eventually, my interview for Guitar Player will come out, but until then here is the man himself talking about his music and music in general in a way that is rarely heard. Now excuse me, I have to go buy his book.
Danny Barnes is an American banjo player, singer, and composer. He was a founding member of the Bad Livers. As a solo artist, he has collaborated with Bill Frisell, Dave Matthews, and others. He has been awarded the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.
Barnes also wrote what is, in my opinion, the best, most clear-headed guide to having a career as a musician available. It is posted on his website, but I took the liberty of adding capitals at the beginning of sentences and doing a little light editing for easier reading. Though it predates the importance of YouTube, it is still required knowledge for any musician who wishes to pursue music as a living, especially those performing the kind of music featured in Guitar Moderne. And as a bonus, here he is with Bill Frisell.
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.
This nasty virus is wreaking havoc over and above the sickness and death it is causing. In addition to our own deep disappointment in not being able to see Fennesz, Mike Baggetta, Mark Ribot, Brandon Ross, and all the other great modern guitarists that would have been performing at Big Ears this ear, our heart goes out to them and all the staff and businesses faced with diminished income and financial loss. Please support the artists by buying their recordings and going to see them if they come to a space near you. Stay safe.