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American Primitive Guitar

The new documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey is an impressionistic account of the life and music of the enigmatic guitarist who coined the expression “American primitive guitar” to describe his playing. Fahey’s music, while anchored in the blues, country, and folk styles that fall under the catchall term “Americana,” is also adventurous and eccentric, spiky and dissonant in places. His playing influenced many later acoustic guitarists but also rockers such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and the Who’s Pete Townshend (who is interviewed in the documentary).

Check out In Search of Blind Joe Death from Richland Library’s collection, as well as the CD John Fahey: Best of the Vanguard Years. You can also stream the contents of several Fahey albums from Freegal (or download six tracks per week free of charge). Listed below as well are albums by other guitarists who may be said to follow in the Fahey tradition - in particular Glenn Jones, who recorded with him before Fahey’s death in 2001.


Amazon Says: Known as the father of American Primitive Guitar, many consider John Fahey to be a foundational figure in American folk music. As both musician and musicologist, Fahey made a more...
Amazon Says: Known as the father of American Primitive Guitar, many consider John Fahey to be a foundational figure in American folk music. As both musician and musicologist, Fahey made a fundamental contribution to our understanding and appreciation of such music genres as Delta blues, Appalachian bluegrass and New Orleans jazz. In Search of Blind Joe Death combines interviews, performances and archival footage with animation in a kinetic, musically charged tribute to a tremendously influential composer, guitarist, author and provocateur. Interviewees include Pete Townshend, Joey Burns of Calexico, Chris Funk of The Decemberists and renowned radio personality Dr. Demento, aka Barry Hansen. Packaged in a 100% Certified Green Forestry Practices DVD Wallet less...
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Amazon Says: Dark, brooding, and adventurous, John Fahey stands alone among 1960s folk guitarists. An avid record collector and Delta blues revivalist, Fahey somehow absorbed his influence more...
Amazon Says: Dark, brooding, and adventurous, John Fahey stands alone among 1960s folk guitarists. An avid record collector and Delta blues revivalist, Fahey somehow absorbed his influences without succumbing to them, remaking them in startlingly new ways (nowhere more evident than on his moving "Requiem for John Hurt" and the contemplative "View [East from the Top of the Riggs Road B & O Trestle]"). An excellent guitarist, Fahey's real talent lies in his ability to create strangely memorable melodies out of atypical chord progressions, odd tunings, and found noises. Even at its most esoteric, Fahey's music is never anything less than captivating and often it is simply beautiful. At times, it's even funny, as in his peculiar nod to pop culture, "Requiem for Molly (Part 3)"--a wry, understated instrumental rendition of the Mamas and Papas' hit, "California Dreamin'," set to a meandering collage of taped noises. Although titled Best of the Vanguard Years, this collections brings together all but two songs from his years with Vanguard. Still, Fahey is a unique talent and these recordings capture him at his unique, and essential, best. --Percy Keegan less...
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The Wanting by Glenn Jones
Amazon Says: The Wanting, Glenn Jones' first album for Thrill Jockey, was recorded in a fourth floor apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, overlooki more...
Amazon Says: The Wanting, Glenn Jones' first album for Thrill Jockey, was recorded in a fourth floor apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, overlooking the commuter train line. If you listen carefully to the record, you can occasionally hear trains going by in the background. Simply put, The Wanting is a collection of original compositions for solo acoustic steel string guitar, six-string, 10-string and bottleneck, and 5-string open-back banjo. Glenn Jones, a 30+ year devotee of the so-called ''American Primitive'' school of acoustic steel string guitarists, has been playing guitar since the age of 14. He formed Boston psych-rock band, Cul de Sac, in 1989 and led it on its 20 year journey to nowhere, leaving nine albums in its wake, including collaborations with guitarist John Fahey and Can's Damo Suzuki. less...
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Dreaming of Revenge by Kaki King
Amazon Says: When Kaki King went into the studio in upstate New York to record the tracks for her fourth album, Dreaming Of Revenge, her producer, Malcolm Burn, had one condition: "He said more...
Amazon Says: When Kaki King went into the studio in upstate New York to record the tracks for her fourth album, Dreaming Of Revenge, her producer, Malcolm Burn, had one condition: "He said, 'If someone can't be sawing a log in half and whistling along to the song, I don't want it on the record,'" King recalls with a laugh. And so the bar was set. Burn's mandate was just the push King needed to make her most accessible CD yet. "Even though half the tracks are instrumentals, I feel like I'm writing Pop songs," she says. "We really concentrated on the melodies. Everything I write tends to be dense and chordal, but this time the idea was to layer the challenging guitar work under very simple, beautiful melodies. I really wanted them to be memorable." less...
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