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WOODEN GUITAR HEROES
It is doubtful that any instrument carries with it more images and references than the acoustic guitar: the college crooner on a grassy lawn or the bandana-clad protester. But often behind such stereotypical images is an element of truth. In many ways, the acoustic guitar is the great democratic instrument: Affordable to obtain and easy to transport; a generous learning curve for beginners; limitless nuance and complexity in the hands of a virtuoso. But in the end, the enormous multiplicity of musical styling, allows a creative mind to wander in any direction, the acoustic guitar serving as a blank page, ready to receive any creative urge.
This evening Bowerbird brings together three unique perspectives in the pantheon of acoustic guitar: multi-instrumentalist Tetuzi Akiyama visiting from Japan, internationally-renowned Philadelphia based Jack Rose, and local DIY scene favorites, Little Ocean; all performing in the intimate and historic surroundings of the 18th century home of Samuel Powel, Philadelphia.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Those acquainted with music happenings in Philadelphia in recent times may remember Tetuzi Akiyama from his blazing Boogie Woogie set at Tequilla Sunrise a couple years ago. Tetuzi is frequently associated with the insurgent improvising community in Tokyo generated around guitarist Taku Sugimoto but to be sure his sound owes as much to a unique strain of country blues engulfed in negative space. His loosely strewn playing skirts the usual cliches of the guitar in both the free improv and traditional folk scenes. Sit back, let your ears bear witness to a zen blues of the most elemental, meditative form.
While the new century’s novel folk has already seen significant definition, Rose is largely alone in talking new century ideas with the old language; (Pitchfork) Often and rightly compared to the late, great John Fahey, Jack Rose has established himself as preeminent proponent of the finger plucking American Primitivism (a term Fahey coined himself) movement. With its roots in Appalachian Folk and Country Blues traditions, the complex and avant-garde nature of this movement (the weighted prevalence of ostinatos and accompaniment patterns over linear melody and song forms, or the unusual guitar tunings, for example), is often overlooked. At the hands of Rose, the level of subtlety and nuance reaches a new level of perfection, appealing to the intellect with out sacrificing beauty.
Little Ocean, originally conceived as a math rock on acoustic guitars collaboration between Ben Remsen and Jake Anodide, has reinvented itself in various manifestations, including the more aggressive (and louder) Big Ocean, and most recently a trio version with Elliot Klein on keyboards. Here again expect a strong influence of Fahey, but with an additional touch of Terry Riley minimalism and up-tempo Don Cab. This evening, for the first time ever, the trio will perform in an all acoustic guitar configuration.
Tetuzi Akiyama’s performance is made possible by the High Zero Foundation in Baltimore, MD.
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