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Bonn ist supreme

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Editors’ Notes

One of the few steel-string guitar virtuosos to sing along with his craft, Robbie Basho was a folk juggernaut in a live setting. Although it wasn't released until 2008, Bonn Ist Supreme is a testament to the late Basho’s stage prowess; it was recorded in Bonn, West Germany, at The Kulturforum on Nov. 24, 1980. Basho opens with “Redwood Ramble,” which begins with sprightly notes and fretboard filigree before his nimble fingerpicking gradually speeds up, filling the room with a complex resonance. “Fandango” is a sunnier piece with a skipping rhythm that Basho’s lyrics follow closely, though his warbly voice gets upstaged by his six-string acoustic. Before playing the Spanish-flavored “(Variations On) Easter,” Basho explains that he uses 35 different tunings for his adroit style of playing—which may account for the melodic overtones rising from the flurry of his arpeggios. Prior to this date, Basho had been touring a great deal, which sharpened his playing incredibly. In “German Chocolate Cake,” he plucks Beethoven-inspired notes two strings at a time to approximate a harpsichord.


Born: August 31, 1940 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Robbie Basho was the least celebrated of the trio of '60s acoustic guitar virtuosos who established themselves as innovators on the Takoma label (the other two were John Fahey and Leo Kottke). It's not hard to surmise why Basho found a natural home on Takoma. Like Fahey and Kottke, he was determined to expand the horizons of the acoustic steel-string guitar by utilizing dissonance, unusual tunings, and influences from all over the world. At the same time, it's not hard to see why Basho attracted...
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Bonn ist supreme, Robbie Basho
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