Guitar Moderne Festival XXVII

Guitar Moderne began as a place to curate videos of live performances by modern guitarists. During Covid, with touring shut down, I posted many imaginary festivals comprised of shows on You Tube. Festivals are back, though not until the spring, and some of us are still wary of crowded clubs, so here is another virtual festival featuring legend Eivind Aarset, as well as legends in the making Julien Desprez, Liberty Ellman, Susan Alcorn, Ava Mendoza, and Mike Baggetta.

Quatuor IXI, Jan Bang, Eivind Aarset, Michele Rabbia—live at Chamber Remix Cologne

Julien Desprez—at Angelica Festival Internazionale di Musica 2021

Vijay Iyer, Liberty Ellman, Reggie Workman, Tyshawn Sorey—The Stone, NYC – Jan 22 2015

Morphic Resonance 8 Livestream (the first 50 minutes is guitarist Nick Robinson.)

Susan Alcorn and Ava Mendoza at the Cunneen—Hackett Arts Center

Ava Mendoza and Mike Baggetta duo—at First Street Green

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The Susan Alcorn Interview

Pedal steel guitarists operate on another level. In addition to coordinating two hands, they must operate pitch-changing pedals with one foot, a volume pedal with the other, and levers with their knees. They also might be operating over 12 strings, with octaves that are nowhere near each other. To all that, Susan Alcorn adds tunings that are unusual even for pedal steel, and a propensity, not just for music that is outside the usual country fare, but outside in general. She is one of the rare steel players who is exploring the unique potential of the instrument beyond the normal roots and pop boundaries. Her latest record, Perdernal [Relative Pitch], made my top 10 list for 2020. On it she is joined by guitarist Mary Halvorson and violinist Mark Feldman, two other players who push the limits of their instruments. We talk about Pedernal, as well as The Heart Sutra, a record of her compositions arranged by Janel Leppin, on which she doesn’t appear. Even if you don’t play pedal steel you will enjoy this conversation.

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Guitar Moderne Top 10 Records Of 2020

Many of this year’s picks were recorded before 2020, for obvious reasons. Works by veterans (Sharp, Alcorn, Björkenheim) joined some newer voices (Naylor, Yalvaç, Gargaud) in offering us quality distractions from a nightmarish year. If you hear anything you like, please purchase something from the artist. With touring off the table, times are tougher than usual for experimental artists.

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Guitar Moderne Festival XIII

Elliott Sharp/Matteo Liberatore, Nels Cline/Susan Alcorn, Raoul Bjorkenheim /Anders Nilsson are among the guitarists featured in Guitar Moderne who have teamed up for a bunch of concerts to start of the summer festival year. And as a bonus a new duet concert with Stian and Sidsel, with Stian on a new guitar! Thanks to Don Mount for documenting the NYC avant scene.

Sidsel Endresen & Stian Westerhus at DOM

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Guitar Moderne Festival XI

We are in the heart of the festival season. Here is a Festival we all would love to see. Beginning with this match made in avant heaven.

Medeski Martin & Wood with Nels Cline – Cully Jazz Festival 2014

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