It was an international guitar morning here at Echoes as three virtuoso guitarists played live on the show. Echoes has always been a home to finger-style guitarists. Michael Hedges, Will Ackerman, Alex De Grassi, Kaki King and Preston Reed are among those who have graced the Echoes Living Room. Today we had three players from three points in the world, Pino Forastiere from Italy, Antoine Dufour from Quebec and Craig D’Andrea from Connecticut. They’re all on Candy Rat Records, which, though you might not suspect it from the name, is the home to many of the best young finger-style musicians around. Along with the Tompkins Square label, they’re leading the charge in new music for acoustic guitar.
The musicians are all post-Michael Hedges players, musicians who tap the bang their instruments as often as they pluck them. But they all integrate this technique into intricate and evocative music. Forastiere’s compositions, heard on his new CD, Live, are woven journeys that sound like he’s having a five way conversation with his guitar. We play a lot of musicians who employ digital looping in their performance, often setting up grooves and ostinatos, but Forastiere does it without electronic enhancements, weaving circuitous, contrapuntal melodies simultaneously over ostinato patterns. You can see how he does it on the accompanying DVD to Live, or in this YouTube video.
Forastiere has grown a Lincolnesque goattee since this was shot.
Antoine Dufour likes to play percussion and melody simultaneously, often rapping rhythms with his finger nails and fist on the guitar’s body while executing finger-ballets on the strings. You can hear his music on his latest CD, Existence, but he’s another guitarist you have to see to believe.
BTW, the bandana isn’t a fashion statement. He uses it to dampen resonance on the headstock and to wipe his sweaty palms.
Craig D’Andrea is the youngest of the three artists. A scant 24 years old, technical expertise seems to ratchet up exponentially with each succeeding generation. I kept trying to hear the Emo influences he mentioned but he seemed to be pure bred Hedges-influenced to me. His new album, Getting Used to Isolation is a step forward in his development as a composer.
I recently got an email from a listener who, after insulting me, requested “ “less motonotous [sic] guitar show-off finger work.”
This listener wanted more electronic music, but I think they’re not hearing the elements that these players and electronic music share. Finger- style guitar has evolved immensely in the last 30 years. Leo Kottke was the leading edge of the old school if you will, but players like Michael Hedges and Don Ross (who Dufour and D’Andrea both cite extensively) altered the paradigm with their tapping approach. They are the second wave of acoustic guitarists who are post-electronic music and you can hear that influence spinning through acoustic guitarists more and more each year. No one in this crew cited electronic music, but I think its influence in terms of cycling patterns and interwoven melody lines is there nevertheless.
These three guitarists are currently touring together with gigs in Philadelphia at the Tin Angel, Wednesday March 11 as as well as performances in New York, Cambridge, MA and Bridgeport, CT.
Forastiere’s Echoes’ concert is already scheduled to air on Echoes March 24. Antoine Dufour and Craig D’Andrea will soon follow.
John Diliberto (((echoes)))