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Tonight, Johnny Brenda’s will help raise money for the documentary-in-progress, Voice Of The Eagle: The Enigma Of Robbie Basho, a study of the late and influential steel guitar player and composer. Performers will include Daniel Bachman, a fingerpicking folk guitar player who is a master of the six strings, along with Arborea, a husband and wife duo from Maine, Check out Daniel Bachman’s amazing NPR Tiny Desk performance below. Tickets for the show can be purchased here. Continue reading →
Despite his influence on the current crop of avant-folk guitarists inspired by the releases of John Fahey’s renowned Takoma label from the 1960s, Robbie Basho’s name is less familiar today than that of esteemed labelmates like Fahey and Leo Kottke. In part that’s due to his freakish and premature death at the age of 45, when an artery in Basho’s neck burst during a visit with his chiropractor. His legacy is indelible, however, in the work of modern-day guitarists who emulate Bashos’ fusion of American blues and folk styles with Indian classical traditions. Continue reading →
A tribute for the late Baltimore-born guitarist Robbie Basho has been scheduled for August 23rd at Johnny Brenda’s, presented by Alabaster Museum and featuring a preview of a new documentary about the musician. Basho was part of the so-called Takoma School in the 60s with John Fahey, Max Ochs and others, bringing more recognition to finger-style and steel-string acoustic guitar playing. Basho, though, was also known for his unmistakable singing – similar to Roy Orbison but even more striking, rich with vibrato and carrying over an impressive range.
With performances by Basho-influenced musicians Daniel Bachman, Ryley Walker, Glenn Jones, and Arborea, the evening will act as a fundraiser for Voice of the Eagle: The Enigma of Robbie Basho, the first-ever documentary about Basho’s life. Tickets and information can be found here. Listen to “Blue Crystal Fire” by Basho below, followed by songs from each of the performers.
To the uninitiated, the ocean of instrumental guitar style players, whom often use and meld original compositions, melodies, and effects together with traditional blues fingering picking techniques, must seem particularly difficult to navigate. A lot of this music, both past and present, is lumped into a genre box called American Primitivism, termed by one of the giant looming figures in the fretted world, John Fahey, which tinges all of the be-lumped players with the “primitive” or untutored, uneducated stigma. Sure, some of these players are self-taught, but many have had formal training, and most have been at this thing for a long time. This style, while a niche in folk music (and some might say commercial appeal), has not only existed since around the late 1950s, but has continued to grow and thrive since then. Father figures like Fahey and the musicians on his Takoma Records, like the transcendental Robbie Basho, eclectic Leo Kottke, and Delta blues Bukka White, passed the torch to players like the technical, yet expressive Glenn Jones and the raucous ragtime and blues of Jack Rose. Of course, these are just a handful of people, a couple of veterans in the game. I think we live in a great time for this style; guitarists continue to take up the mantle, but in true modern fashion, they manipulate, experiment, incorporate, augment, exclude, and mess around with the original framework. My mind jumps to the Tompkins Square label that not only reissues lost gems from cult icons like Don Bikoff, Mark Fosson, and Harry Taussig, but are committed to releasing new forward-thinking releases from Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw, Ryley Walker, and nearly countless others in their fret-heavy Imaginational Anthem compilations. Through Folkadelphia alone, we’ve recorded, presented, and championed players like Chris Forsyth, Matt Sowell, Ben Seretan, Jesse Sparhawk, and William Tyler. And, of course, this doesn’t even include musicians and bands that dabble in the genre, that pull from its now rich history – Kaki King, Ben Chasny, Jim O’Rourke – where and why should you draw a line? To the uninitiated, perhaps much of it sounds similar, but I urge you to keep listening with focused ears because once you start digging, a world of diversity, complexity, and limitless imagination and possibility will present itself to you.
One of my now favorite guitarists is the Portland, Oregon based Marisa Anderson. Perpetually on tour, her playing style has developed to be fleet-fingered and impossibly adaptable, nimbly pivoting from meditative improvisation to electric blues inflection to twangy country and cosmic beyondness. She’s also very prolific. In 2013 alone, she released two albums: Mercury, a collection of original compositions, and the appropriately named Traditional and Public Domain Songs. The two releases showcase very different elements; Mercury is like a primer on what is possible with six strings and ten fingers, a blistering 16 songs in less than 35 minutes, while Traditional and Public Domain Songs stretches familiar tunes like “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Pretty Polly” into uncharted experimental territory – pretty out there stuff! Whatever she is working on, Marisa Anderson is a guitarist to keep your eye on because you never know what she’ll come up with next.
Two things are certain. We recorded Marisa Anderson on her last visit to Philadelphia on October 18th, 2013. She returns to play a Fire Museum presented show at the Random Tea Room with Matt Sowell next Friday, May 9th (info. here).
Virginia-born guitar player Daniel Bachman will follow up last year’s Jesus I’m a Sinner LP with a new album called Orange Co. Serenade, out this spring via Bathetic Records. The first preview of Bachman’s latest “psychedelic appalachia” compositions comes with a video for “Little Lady Blues,” filmed in his hometown of Fredricksburg, VA by Jesse Sheppard.
The clip shows Bachman mastering the rarer form of his playing, using a lap guitar to convey the tension and beautiful intricacies of the traditional music style. Transitioning from a jangling and melodic opening to a sparser, pulsing second movement, “Little Lady Blues” immediately transports the listener to the slower, hotter days of summer in the south. Bachman will be returning to his former stomping grounds of Philadelphia to kick off a month long tour at the Random Tea Room on April 15th; tickets and information can be found here. Listen to “Little Lady Blues” below.
Maybe it was a stroke of genius or maybe it was heat stroke, but during the dog days of this summer, an idea struck me that I knew had to pursue. One of those “ah ha!” moments. We’d wrangle together a group of musicians so amazing, so talented for a collaborative live session that the result would literally be jaw-dropping. There was some serious buzz about the idea around the ol’ Folkadelphia watercooler (note: we don’t have a watercooler, but my audio engineers were visibly impressed and sent me encouraging emails). With that positive feeling flowing, I contacted the association of sorta-Philly musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, synth player/manipulator/producer Jeff Zeigler (of Arc In Round), and guitarists Chris Forsyth and Daniel Bachman. I say “sorta-Philly” because Bachman lives in Virginia now although he previously lived in Philly (in an apartment with Lattimore no less). They were all ready, willing, and able to collaborate for an improvisational set. What I started dubbing “the Ultimate Session” was in place.
The four musicians were playing on the same bill at Johnny Brenda’s on August 22nd. Unfortunately, due to traffic issues Bachman was unable to make it. While it is certainly a loss, I stand by calling this an “ultimate session” because, for my money, this is a dream team of Philly musicians. It’s almost an extension of our previous session with Lattimore & Zeigler – maybe you’d call it a sequel, back with avengence, back with Chris Forsyth. Whereas the older session drifted casually between atmospheric and oceanic, the new one bites a little harder. Sure, there are still plenty of revelatory sections, moments of supreme sonic purity that make me feel like I’m floating, but darker, mechanical, maniacal elements creep in and permeate the mix. By the end, I have already mentally subbed the music into scenes of ’80s sci-fi thriller films.I’m saying to myself, “this section is the protagonist’s dark night of the soul” or “this would be the meeting between the two love interests in this future version of New York City.” You get the picture.
When the music stops, I don’t feel a finality, but instead just the close of this chapter of an on-going project. Perhaps next time not only Bachman will be able to make it, but other collaborators. Think of the soundscapes! Think of the potential mental soundtracks!
Chris Forsyth’s new album Solar Motel is now available and he’ll be celebrating with a release show this coming Friday, November 15th at the Rotunda. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler perform as a duo on December 4th at Union Transfer for the Rail Park Benefit.
Listen to our past sessions with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler and Daniel Bachman. Finally, make sure to stop back this Thursday, November 14th for a bonus session featuring Chris Forsyth performing solo acoustically.
We can’t let go of Daniel Bachman, even though the young guitarist moved away from Philly half a year ago. Luckily he’s always got something new for us to dig into in his absence, like this week’s cassette / download collaboration with Colorado’s Matthew Sage, improvised and recorded live for Patient Sounds. The cassette is sold out but you can listen to excerpts of the session below and download it here.
He only lived locally for a year, but folk-influenced acoustic guitarist Daniel Bachman made quite an impression while he was in town. Since he moved back to his native Fredericksburg, VA, we’ve kept tabs on Bachman’s nervous, nimble acoustic guitar playing through his Folkadelphia session, catching appearances at Little Berlin and Brickbat Books, seeing him at the Tompkins Square showcase at South by Southwest last week and hearing this collaborative EP, recorded with experimental Colorado musician Matthew Sage for the Patient Sounds label. The two track cassette, Low in the HIgh Desert, was an improvisational effort, per the label:
Daniel Bachman rolled into Fort Collins to play his first Colorado show ever at the Bizarre Bazaar. He was laid out by the altitude, and played a crazy, heavy set of songs while his guitar wailed in and out of tune adjusting to our rather inhospitable climate here in Colorado in March.
The next morning Daniel & Matthew sat in the studio and cut a few tracks before Daniel split south…they improvised these two pieces. They were a little thing unto themselves. A powerful hazy force in a compact dose. Working out working with less air in yr blood.
This release is supposed to feel as improvised, in the moment, as the session was. We worked out the details while Daniel’s laundry dried. That is why this is PSltd001 – because it is something extra special to us – something extra short run.
The limited-edition cassette is already sold out, but you can download it here. Listen to excerpts from the session below.
Welcome to the Folkadelphia Sessions, a weekly feature focusing on the in-studio performances recorded by the Folkadelphia crew. Here, folk musicians and singer-songwriters are given the opportunity to share songs that we have recorded in a live, intimate, and often stripped-down fashion at the WXPN studios. There is a real truth and beauty in the rawness of the whole set-up that we hope you’ll hear and enjoy!
Maybe it’s due to his young age or just his personality, but Daniel Bachman was one of the most easygoing people to step foot inside of the WXPN Studio to record a Folkadelphia Session. Whenever I think of the giants of instrumental guitar music – the John Fahey / Robbie Basho / Jack Rose-types – I always imagine a larger-than-life figure. I imagine a person mystically compelled to relay a deeper insight into what it means to be human or how we fit into this universe all through the playing of a guitar. Now, it is extremely possible that Bachman already possesses these qualities, or perhaps they lay latent within all who choose this musical path, or perhaps he will acquire them one day in a frenzied atavistic spirit quest, returning a changed man. As it stands currently, Bachman is a regular and excitable guy that can write some of the most thrilling acoustic music I’ve heard in a number of years.
On October 24th, 2012, Bachman stopped by the studio before his show at the Little Berlin exhibition space. The songs included in the set, a good mix from this year’s Seven Pines (released on Tompkins Square) and other material, resonate and buzz with the same type of exuberance, graciousness, and excitability displayed by the man with the guitar in his hands. Let the melodies take you where they will.