Today is the birthday of Adrian Belew who, for years, has managed to make complex music (Zappa, King Crimson, his own) seem easy and fun. Here are some great sounding, relatively recent, beautifully shot videos of his latest band. The man keeps growing and evolving, while magically making digital guitar sounds that are warm and human.
I have often extolled Downtown Music Gallery in New York as a great place to order records by many of the artists I cover. I have also found it to be a terrific resource for discovering new modern guitarists.
Their periodic email blast often lists records featuring players that have escaped my attention and sends me scurrying to YouTube to check them out. Patrick Higgins is one such guitarist. He is also a composer of note on the modern classical scene. How he has remained unknown to me over a decade of touring and recording, I have no idea, but I hopefully have rectified that for you here.
Patrick was on his iPhone and on the move when we did the interview, so if you suffer from motion sickness, you might want to just listen. Either way, you will find our conversation rewarding.
Stian Westerhus and Eivind Aarset were two of the main guitarists that led me to found Guitar Moderne. With their obvious technical skills, command of analog and digital effects, and rock star charisma, they made it easy to get excited about new forms of guitar playing. Stian has just released a recording of a live set from DOKK-huset in Trondheim Norway, available on Bandcamp. Even though half the performance is Westerhus processing his vocals, there is plenty of astounding guitar. If you purchase the audio recording, you get access to a beautifully shot video of the live performance. We talked about the record and many, many other things.
Much of what I post revolves around live performance and improvisation. Still, many guitarists are as or more concerned with creating fresh sounds and effects while recording. Here, Derek VanScoten, A/K/A Cloudchord, demonstrates a way to create a complex loop ambience that follows the chords of a song.
I first interviewed Knox in 2014. He is a session guitarist who worked with the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M, and others.. He toured with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Cyndi Lauper, and toured and recorded with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. In 2012, Knox moved from New York City to Berlin, where he plays and teaches. We talk about the move, his evolution from rock guitarist to a roots-meets-iPad artist and his new project with Eric Mingus, Bursting Blue Bone Bark. We also discuss the brilliance of Chris Whitley, his unlikely dragooning into becoming a cellist, and more. Check out the performance videos either before or after watching the interview.