Seems most everything I do — writing, coding, cupping coffee or catching up on my reading pile — I do to music. I don’t have anything against silence, mind you… but life is richer with a soundtrack. And right now that soundtrack calls for an eclectically bluesy, finger-style guitar.
Topping my play list these days is Kelly Joe Phelps and his astonishing, live acoustic finger-style blues spectacular, Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind. Kelly morphs with ease between Delta and folksy blues styles, thumping a droning baseline one moment, snaking his way through complex modal riffs the next. Often as not Kelly uses his voice as an accompaniment to his guitar rather than the other way ’round — sometimes growling out an alternative baseline or counterpoint between his breathy, syncopated lyrics. An artistic tour de force and stunningly musical, besides.
Also high my on my playlist — and a sometimes collaborator with Phelps — the Tony Furtado Band. Furtado’s style is centered in folksy blues, too — which only makes sense as he’s a Grand National Champion banjo player — and ranges to Bela fleck-styled bluegrass-jazz fusion and Kottke and Juber-inspired finger-picking. Where Phelp’s Tap the Red Cane is “just” a guy and his guitar, Furtado offers a full-on musical soundscape of electric and eclectic, unplugged instruments — acoustic bottle-slide and resonator guitars, fiddle, pipes, banjo and a tall stack of drums. Want more? Check out Furtado’s American Gypsy’s slightly Celtic overlay, and Roll My Blues Away with it’s progressive bluegrass roots.
So… what are you listening to?