I feel like I’ve arrived at the party late.
While I was familiar with the work of John Fahey and his proteges like Leo Kottke, until recently I didn’t really look into the phenomenon that is generally known as “American Primitive.” Musicians I follow closely like Joey Burns of Calexico, and MC Taylor from The Court & Spark and Hiss Golden Messenger, and the guys from Tortoise have all mentioned Fahey one time or another.
It actually took a conversation with MC Taylor regarding Tortoise and the similarity of the song titles “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men” from TNT, and “In Christ There Is No East and West” the Christian standard interpreted by Fahey and a chance PR e-mail from Thrill Jockey about their new signing of Glenn Jones to send me falling down the rabbit hole that is John Fahey’s career. In particular, it was this video of Glenn Jones that Thrill Jockey sent that really grabbed me:
Beautiful, right? The fact that there is a whole genre of music that is based in this classically-inspired folk acoustic guitar playing is a bit overwhelming to me. In an e-mail exchange with Glenn Jones recently, he referred to Fahey as “the fountainhead” in that Fahey inspired so many guitarists with his work. In addition to his own career recording his own music, he also worked on a very extensive reissue of Fahey’s early works dating from 1958-1965. Titled John Fahey: Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965) it is a project that Jones started working with Fahey on before his passing in 2001. Weighing in at 115 tracks spread over 5 CD’s and an 88-page accompanying book, it is clearly a labor of love for Jones.
Jones continues his Fahey influences in his own solo work. Spread over three albums on the label Strange Attractors Audio House Glenn Jones’ solo work are stringed instrumentals– guitar, slide, banjo– in spare arrangement. His fourth solo album and first on Thrill Jockey titled The Wanting continues largely in this vein, although it is really a culmination of the developments he has made.
The Wanting has been in very regular rotation for me since I got the promo and I’m still struck by the sheer beauty of the work and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform this week in Iowa City and Dubuque. Monday night he will be at The Mill in Iowa City and admission is $7 and doors are at 8:30PM. On Tuesday night he’ll be in Dubuque at Monk’s Kaffee Pub which will be NO COVER and is a super place to see Glenn who should benefit from such an intimate setting!
Click Here for Glenn Jones’ Facebook Page (that I’m helping him with) – please consider clicking “Like”
Below is the full tour schedule.