The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #22066   Message #245923
Posted By: M. Ted (inactive)
22-Jun-00 - 01:18 PM
Thread Name: Most versatile guitarist?
Subject: RE: Most versatile guitarist?
I am back in a limited capacity, as they say--though I didn't really leave because of the flamers, per se--I have some long term health problems that interfere with my ability to deal life in general, and I got too invested in some not very important things here, and it was starting to affect my overall situation.

Now, as to Lenny Breau and Danny Gatton--Lenny was one of the greats, both in terms of his level of talent and the quality of work--not enough people know about him. As luck would have it, I was on a Lenny Breau listening kick when he died unexpectedly, so I have a (probably somewhat inappropriate) personal attachment to him,

Danny Gatton was the ultimate phenomenon --he had absorbed all of this crazy mishmosh of different genres of music that we are bombarded with, in every aspect of our lives, and he had woven it together and made something greater than the parts. People always talk about his ability to play what seemed technically impossible, but to me, the most important thin about his work was that he played with a subtle sense of humor.

I haven't heard a lot of Tuck Andress, though I have liked what I heard, and was impressed with how well he could hold together any style song with a single guitar. Would really like to hear him live.

Also, Hank Garland is anouther great, who had done a lot of great work and yet is not widely known--

Rick, Tommy had been doing a workshop tour for one of the music companies, and the little bit that he did was from that. Part of the thing about "versatility" is that it means you can take whatever someone throws in your lap and make it work.

This idea of "The Most" or "The Greatest" or whatever, is basically an unreasonable proposition, based in our societies preoccupation with competitive sports, where fastest, farthest, and highest, and the most are really measurable.

Guitarists are usually composers and arrangers as well, and each works with a different set of ideas, and develops different aspects of the music. It makes comparison hard. There are few people who could find enough common ground to compare Jimmy Hendrix and Merle Travis. Given the fact that they both accompanied Elvis, here are such great differences in the styles and techniques of James Burton and Scotty Moore that it is hard to compare them.

Beyond that, it really isn't possible to gauge the depth, widtth and breadth of a musician or performer, by one piece of music, one concert, or one cd.

Performances of all kinds are really contrivances--the audience is not intended to ever know what went into it, to maintain the illusion, it is necessary for them to accept what they see at face value, and be "Amazed".

They never know that their favorite guitar idol spent hours learning to play a solo that someone else (or, often, three other people) created in a studio.

They never know that their favorite "downhome" traditional artist studied at a prestigious preforming arts school, or that he learned his famous guitar licks from his more talented but less successful brother.

Aspiring guitarists never know that the piece that they so carefully studied and copied from a "The Greatest Guitarist of All Time" was actually written by someone else, who was never credited, then multitracked, with the melody notes overdubbed by a guy with funny hair from Brooklyn, because the "Greatest Guitarist" kept clamming the notes.

Fame, or notoriety, doesn't really have much to do with how versatile someone is, in fact, the more famous someone is, the less versatile they can be, because people get to know them for one thing, and they want to hear it.

The most veratile guitarist in the world is some guy that has been playing as the house accompanist on open mike nite for singers, in some small club in Old Town, or Soho, or on Union Street, or a similar place in some other big city.

He plays Jazz for the Jazz singers, country for the country singers, a little Rogers and Hammerstein for the aspiring show singers. He can play fingerstyle, he can fake blues, and he knows the changes to most everything that hit the top ten because he plays weddings, in season. He can cover "Miserlou" and "Usku Dar", or "Allah Zein" for the Middle Easterners, and plays "Sakura" for the Japanese tourists.

Everyone knows his first name, only the nite manager and the bookeeper know his last name. He's been there for ten year, and when he leaves, they'll buy a piano replace him with a Billy Joel wannabee who empties the place by his second week.

And then, someone will hear him, in Boston, or Vegas, or at the Holiday Inn, or maybe it will be someone else, that reminds them of him.