Pedal Book Mania

If anyone were to be into pedals it would be the modern guitarist. Granted there are a few who play only acoustic, and even fewer who exclusively play plugged straight into the amplifier, but the majority of modern guitarists are to some extent looking to find new sounds in the electric realm and pedals help them go there. The firmament of modern guitar heaven is filled with gods who use a plethora of stompboxes in their quest for sonic freshness. Adrian Belew, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, Stian Westerhus, David Torn, Nick Reinhardt, and others employ effect pedals as an essential part of their artistry.

For them, and guitarists of all stripes, this year has seen the release of, not one, but two books (actually three) devoted to these playable, collectable, fetish-encouraging devices.

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The Gerry Leonard Interview

In my video intro I say I first saw Gerry Leonard with Jonatha Brooke in in San Francisco. I might be wrong about that, but once I moved back to New York I saw him often in his guise as Spooky Ghost, both solo and with an amazing band, performing feats of looping magic while singing haunting, Gaelic-tinged, original songs. One of those nights, in a tiny Tribeca club, I found myself sitting practically on top of David Bowie as he checked Leonard out for his band. The rest is history as Gerry went on to be musical director for David Bowie’s Reality Tour and have his guitar  featured on Bowie records, “Heathen,” “Reality,” and “The Next Day.” We discuss that fateful night and much more.

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Ed Pettersen: Dispatch from the COVID Front

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.

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The Anthony Pirog Interview

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.

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The Stian Westerhus Interview

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.

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