Saturday, December 19, 2009

VA - Beyond Six Strings

"How many strings does a guitar have? Six, you say? Well, what about the 12-string made famous by Leo Kottke? Tenor guitars? The world of guitar has long ventured outside the bounds of what many people consider a "normal" instrument with a mere six strings. The past two decades has seen a resurgence of historic and musical interest in harp guitars, which first began to appear in this country at the turn of the 20th century when Knutsen, Dyer, and the Larsons made and marketed various forms of harp guitars -- those with extra strings usually attached to a second head, which gave the instrument a plethora of tones and colors. Gibson also got in on the action in those early days. "Beyond Six Strings" is a terrific collection of tunes by modern impresarios of guitars both old and new with lots of strings. Three of the players (and the producers) on this CD are well known for their long-time support for all things harp guitar: John Doan, Steven Bennett, and Gregg Miner, who provides the brief introduction to harp guitars in the liner notes. The packaging of the disc is top notch, with excellent notes on the songs and artists, as well as photos of some of the instruments. Each of the players on the disc has a personal love affair with these instruments. We hear all sort sorts of playing from two-handed tapping on "Emmet's Rising" by Andy Wahlberg and "The Friend I Never Had" by Andy McKee, to gentle fingerpicking on "Clarsah" by Muriel Anderson on a custom nylon string harp requinto crafted by luthier Mike Doolin. The oldest instrument is an 1899 Knutsen played by Miner on "Deserted Island," sounding like a standard OM with some extra bass strings (and looking like it, too). The tonal palette is stretched to its limits on "In John Fahey There Is No East or West" by John Doan on a 20 stringed Sullivan-Elliott harp guitar, while Bennett lets the droning deep bass strings ring on "November" to close a wonderful recording of guitar music, and a must-have for anyone interested in these fascinating instruments." © Kirk Albrecht,

01. Don't Give Into Sorrow About Tomorrow (Tom Shinness)
02. Heavenly Earth Dance (Iwan Hasan)
03. Friend I Never Met, the (Andy McKee)
04. Brookside Avenue (Dan LaVoie)
05. Emmet's Rising (Andy Wahlberg)
06. Deserted Island (Gregg Miner)
07. Theme From Redwood Variations (James Kline)
08. In John Fahey There Is No East Or West (John Doan)
09. Scarborough Fair (Stacy Hobbs)
10. Clarsah (Muriel Anderson)
11. Long Walk Home, the (Bill Dutcher)
12. Chin Up (Larry Berwald)
13. November (Stephen Bennett)


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