In the description for the recently reissued album Celestial Explosion, the sole solo album of one Don Bikoff, the impeccable Tompkins Square Records, the issuing label, wrote that comparisons to John Fahey and Robbie Basho “are still inevitable, however they are for lazy ears.” It’s true – I would say that the comparisons should basically stop after you recognize that the only trait they have in common is the fact they are exhibiting their musicality through instrumental means, in general. Although Bikoff is a contemporary of Fahey and Basho – Bikoff originally released that album in 1968 – the time since then has done much to distance the stylistic elements of his music from the others. The way I hear it, whereas Basho often borders on the mystical, Fahey on the psychedelic, and folks like Jack Rose on the rustic, Bikoff finds inspiration in every day experiences. The rumination on a walk through town, a conversation, a romantic trip, or a pesky insect is the kickoff point for Bikoff’s playful guitaring. The mundane, imbued by the hues of memory and imagination, are made into the magical. You can hear it in his performance, which carries a certain carefree attitude and abundance of creative spirit (dare I say of a younger man?) Perhaps that’s why a concert bill featuring Bikoff and a younger player like Daniel Bachman makes sense; they feel more like contemporaries than different generations. You’re only as young (or old) as you feel and Bikoff, while performing with the technical aptitude of an longtime expert, injects an adolescent energy into each melody.
It was a blast to host Don for this Folkadelphia Session that we recorded the afternoon of June 15th before our co-presented concert with the guitarist at the Highwire Gallery (with Fire Museum Presents). If you’re able to make it out, Don will be back on tour, playing a few extremely special shows with another cult musician Mark Fosson in New York (Riverhead, Port Washington, and Patchogue). If not, let this session serve as a placeholder in time until Don’s next album and tour.