Someone posted some pictures of the guitars Bill Frisell used during his four night residency at the Freight & Salvage in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of them looked very unusual. It was not the typical Tele, Jazzmaster, Strat, or archtop shape he usually favors. I emailed him to ask, “What is that guitar?” Bill was kind enough to answer in detail, as well as sending gorgeous pictures of this unique instrument.
The new releases are coming thick and fast these days. In addition to recordings featuring veterans like Torn, Baggetta, Pirog,and Cline, there are terrific projects from numerous countries by a batch of names new to me.
I hope you will indulge me in a little personal reminiscing. I was living in New York City, sometime between 1982 and 1984, when I saw an ad in The Village Voice announcing bassist Percy Jones playing at The Bitter End, a small club on Bleecker Street with a band called Stone Tiger. I was a fan of Jones from his work with Brand X. The ad may have mentioned the other band members, but I had no idea who they were and it was Jones’ name that enticed me to go. Stone Tiger was a trio, with drums and guitar. The guitarist was wielding a Roland 300 guitar synthesizer, but it was not the primitive synth sounds he was getting that astounded me. Whether using the synth or the typical guitar pickups, this was the most revolutionary rethinking of the electric guitar I had heard since Jimi Hendrix played my college gymnasium almost two decades prior. He used a volume pedal to swell notes in from the ether, only to return them through delay and reverb. Echoes of country licks appeared amidst jazz harmonies. The abstraction of his solos made Jeff Beck’s seem hyper-linear. Who was this guy??!!
My years of making music in New York City coincided at various times with Elliot 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). Elliot, 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.
Can’t wait to see this guy at Big Ears in March.