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Acoustic Artistry

30 JUN 11 JOHN C. BRUENING

In a span of 35 years, critics and enthusiasts of acoustic guitar music frequently tagged John Fahey with words like "enigmatic," "eccentric," "innovative." Indeed, his style was difficult to categorize, as it embraced elements of classical, folk, country, blues, bluegrass, world music and more. This diverse approach is evident on the new Rounder DVD The Guitar Artistry Of John Fahey: On The Sunny Side Of The Ocean.

It features Fahey performing more than a dozen songs (mostly his own compositions) in quiet studio settings at various stages of his career -- beginning with the early '70s and running through the 1980s. Released a little more than a decade after Fahey's death in 2001, the two-hour-plus presentation showcases the range and depth of artist's skills as a technician and performer.

The performances are intercut with commentary and retrospective from Fahey as an older man (circa 1990s). The material runs the gamut from the technically intense to the laid back and contemplative. Especially engaging are the ominous sounding "Death Of The Clayton Peacock" and a medley that segues effortlessly from "Twilight On Prince George's Avenue" to "O Holy Night."

Bonus tracks include a 15-minute interview with acoustic guitarist and actor Christian Roebling, as well as a lesson in guitar fingering for "Some Summer Day." The Guitar Artistry Of John Fahey is instructive from beginning to end -- a lesson into how, in the right hands, much of the world and its music can be channeled through a familiar and relatively simple six-stringed instrument.



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