There’s nothing like the upcoming celebration of USA Independence Day to reflect on what’s truly important in American music – guitars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of other stringed instruments — give me a good dulcimer, a skillful lute, even the often (and recently) unfairly maligned banjo, but heck, nothing beats an electric guitar cranked to 11 run through a freaking stack of Marshall amps high enough to reach Valhalla. But this is Folkadelphia and we don’t really do that I guess. We just opt for something slightly to the left of that. Folk music I guess.
Let’s introduce our subject, Ben Seretan, a Brooklyn based experimental singer-songwriter and guitar noisemaker. He was joined by current Philadelphian and recent WXPN/World Cafe producer Alex Lewis (who sometimes goes by the Early) on guitar. Two guys noodling on guitars, singing Liz Phair — I seriously cannot think of anything more American. Okay, maybe if they had brought a BBQ grill into the mix, then we could shoot off fireworks in applause. Joking and the stellar cover song aside, Seretan displays his flexibility and ingenuity as a musician all over the session. He easily comes across as an adept axe-handler, incorporating equal portions of shred, drone, and weirdness into the mix, but it’s his ability to drizzle in elusive pop elements and hook-laden sections that keeps me coming back for more. He can go from spirtual revelation, like during his “Improvisation” with Alex, to throbbing tenderness, like during “Blues for Ian M. Colletti.”
If you have a hankering for six strings and the unusual, then you may have stumbled on the next bit of America to be patriotic about.
Ben Seretan and Alex Lewis joined us at the XPN Performance Studio on April 8th before a show at Kung Fu Necktie the following evening.