In 2019, I kept running into Ed Pettersen at Big Ears. We had some interesting conversations during which I learned that we both lived in Nashville and that he was something of a musical polymath. He recently sent me an email describing the effect that Covid has had on his musical plans. I thought that many GM readers could relate and that it would be a good time to officially introduce Pettersen to the Guitar Moderne community.
One of the younger modern guitar maestros, Anthony Pirog knows nothing of stylistic limitations—his music is beyond category, embracing not only jazz, but avant-garde and indie rock, free improvisation, electronic sound, and ambient soundscapes.
Pirog has himself established with his work as one-half of the duo Janel & Anthony, the electric jazz improvisational Five Times Surprise, the classic DC-scene twang inspired Music From The Anacostia Delta, and the exciting trio Messthetics, with Brendan Canty and Joe Lally, the rhythmic section from Fugazi.
His new solo record, Pocket Poem, features the same musicians as 2015’s Palo Colorado Dream: acoustic bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ches Smith. For this trio record Pirog wanted to layer the compositions with sounds created using modern technology and vintage guitar synthesizers. All of which and more we discuss here.
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.
Mike Baggetta joins a rarified cohort of guitarists—Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, and David Torn—where serious technical ability meets a mastery of sonics. His band mssv with bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, The Stooges) and drummer Stephen Hodges (Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, David Lynch) has a new album out, so it seemed a good time to catch up. We talk about the difference between the first studio record, Wall of Flowers, and this one, and go deep into Baggetta’s bag of sonic tricks (check out the photos of his pedal setup).
October 16, 2020 is a banner day for modern guitar releases. Two new generation legends in the making, Mike Baggetta and Anthony Pirog have albums dropping. Baggetta’s band mssv (with Mike Watt and Stephen Hodges) is also doing a live stream tonight under the aegis of the much-missed Big Ears Festival. Look for interviews with both artists at guitarmoderne.com soon. Subscribe so you don’t miss them.