Jim Campilongo Electric Trio at Atwood’s Tavern (Cambridge, MA 10/07/2012)

While I certainly have a shortlist of favorite guitar players, I find it hard to choose just one that stands out as my “all-time” favorite. Everyone on that list brings something unique and interesting to the music. That said, if you forced me to choose just one plectrist, I would be inclined to name Jim Campilongo. Since relocating to the East Coast two years ago, I’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to catch him live; I finally had my chance last Sunday at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge.

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Nils Lofgren Shreds on “The Ghost of Tom Joad”

N.O.S. is going to be Bruce-heavy for the next couple weeks. I’m checking out the Boss on the 15th at Fenway, and am pumped to say the least. The performance in the video is one that makes you want to strap on an electric guitar and join a rock & roll band. It’s also worth checking out Tom Morello’s solo on this tune (from the same tour I think). A similarly great performance, but I have to say I prefer Nils. Minimal effects other than some intense overdrive/distortion; the tone is mostly his fingers, a Strat, and a cranked amp (or two).

In case you’re wondering about the funky attachment on the headstock, check out the video below from Fender.

M. Ward…

…is a great songwriter, guitarist, arranger, and producer. This tune is one of the highlights off his latest album, A Wasteland Companion. A review of that album is coming, along with an overdue gear comparison of the Vox Amplug and Line 6 Pocket POD, plus other surprises. Stay tuned all you late night TV watchers.

He shook it like a Harlem queen

A melancholy ode to the King, and one of my favorite Gillian Welch tunes. I have a soft spot for acoustic folk duos, having played in one in college. Welch’s longtime partner David Rawlings is a superbly tasteful lead player and producer. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of the records in the Welch/Rawlings catalog; last year’s The Harrow and the Harvest is a great place to start.

Album and gear reviews are coming, once I find a spare moment…

Shenandoah

One of my favorite melodies, reinterpreted through the genius of Bill Frisell. In addition to simply being a gorgeous interpretation of the tune, this is a great demonstration of using effects as an extension of the instrument, rather than just a distracting gimmick.

Coming attractions include a review of J.D. McPherson’s latest, jamming with the Vox Amplug AC-30, and the exciting conclusion of the Frequent Flyer-caster saga.

Carolyn Wonderland Tearin’ it up in the Lonestar State

My significant other periodically reminds me that the guitar music landscape is pretty heavily gender biased. Very true indeed, but definitely not for a lack of female 6-string talent. So as this blog’s small contribution to feminism, I’m going to make a conscious effort to highlight women who tear it up with as much soul and technique as any man. I encourage readers to leave listening suggestions in the comments, as women in this business unfortunately often fly under the radar.

I discovered Carolyn Wonderland recently via Mountain Stage, and picked up her 2011 album Peace Meal. It’s a highly recommendable listen. Carolyn’s Joplin-esque voice and monster guitar chops are firmly rooted in the blues, but with elements of R&B, country, and folk thrown in for good measure. Check out her right-hand technique — that pickless pop and snap of the strings is totally old school, a la Skip James or Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. And note the monster tone coming out of that 15 watt Blues Jr — I bet the owner of the Marshall stack in the background is wondering why he bothers throwing out his back every damn gig.