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Guitar Festival Summer 1999 (Adventures At the Guitar Festival / Greetings Fellow Pickers)

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Album Review

This double-CD set documents the four-day guitar festival Eugene Chadbourne organized in August 1999 at the Tonic, New York City. Disc One, titled "Dr. Eugene Chadbourne's Adventures at the Guitar Festival," culls eight free improvisations in duos and trios, all featuring the good Doctor. Guests include Kenta Nagai, Jim O'Rourke, David Watson, Joe Morris, Dean Roberts, Elliott Sharp, Misha Feigin, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, and Loren Mazzacane Connors. The latter, who gets two rounds with the organizer, once in a duet, the second time adding Roger Kleier, produces the strangest mix of approaches. His sharply-cut moans and groans have little in common with Chadbourne's frantic picking, but their meeting yields a kind of beauty previously unheard. The other pieces cover a wide range of music, from harsh noise (Chadbourne/Moore/Roberts) to delicate — almost precious — tiptoeing (Chadbourne/Morris, a highlight). Disc Two, titled "Greetings Fellow Pickers" (also the title of the festival itself) is a completely different affair. The event included jam sessions where participants were invited to relay each other on-stage for an extended trio (the concept is similar to the Relay events organized in London and Athens by the label-cum-venue 2:13). Therefore, Disc Two is a continuous 68-minute track, comprising various excerpts mixed together in the spirit of the jams. Where performance stops and editing begins, the listener cannot tell. The piece starts with Chadbourne, O'Rourke, and Alan Licht engaging in an abstract free-form conversation. Lee Ranaldo, Don Fleming, Moore, Nagai, and Connors also come and go, but pinpointing the moments of each musician's arrival and departure is near impossible and, in the end, pointless. The piece takes on a life of its own, building from its dry opening to an intermezzo of soundscapes and banjo picking, a sustained climax of harsh noise (Ranaldo/Fleming/Moore/Nagai), and ending on a catharsis induced by the arrival of Loren Mazzacane Connors. The recordings are raw and full of amplifier hums, but this kind of sound quality befits the formula of the event. And in case you wonder: there are no songs on this album. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: January 4, 1954 in Mount Vernon, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A seemingly endless — and endlessly eclectic — series of releases made the innovative guitarist Eugene Chadbourne one of the underground community's most well-known and well-regarded eccentrics. Born January 4, 1954 in Mount Vernon, NY, Chadbourne was raised in Boulder, CO, by his mother, a refugee of the Nazi death camps. At the age of 11, the Beatles inspired him to learn guitar; later exposure to Jimi Hendrix prompted him to begin experimenting with distortion pedals and fuzzboxes....
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