December 12, 2023

John Fahey, Guitar Frank and American Primitivism

If you ever find yourself in a learning plateau when it comes to guitar you just have to plug into your imagination or maybe buy some John Fahey records…

If there was ever a man to put the words heavy and eclectic into the acoustic blues guitar cannon here he is –  it’s John Fahey, iconoclast, drinker, rebel and consumate acoustic mash up artist – taking Skip James, Gregorian chants, early 20th Century ragtime, Gamelan and Tibetan music amongst a horde of other influences and blending them together into a rich and velvety cornucopia of guitar idiosyncracy. Fahey started out his career with a 17 dollar guitar and the inspiration of  fellow stick-in-the-mud Guitar Frank (Hovington) a piedmont style player who rarely traveled for fear of losing his welfare support payments.

If you like Lightning Hopkins you`ll probably like Frank too.  It’s well worth looking into Fahey’s work because his eclecticism illustrates that even within a specific genre or technique there are always new ways to express and expand the musical vocabulary of the guitar. Fahey is the forefather of modern acoustic guitar in  sense that he was the first to demonstrate that the finger-picking techniques of traditional country and blues steel-string guitar could be used to express a world of non-traditional musical ideas.

Fresh ! Far out ! Essential !

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