So Much Guitar #1: Mary Halvorson

So Much Guitar is i2b’s weekly(ish) coverage of the best of the gajillion tremendous guitarists out there.
Doing it the hard way, one string slinger at a time. How long could it possibly take?
(Feature photo (c) Julian Parker-Burns)

Every week or two seems to bring another release featuring Mary Halvorson, a musician who has established herself over the past dozen years as one of the main names in 21st century jazz guitar. She gained early notice for her work with the legendary Anthony Braxton – her Wesleyan College music professor who inspired her, after one class session, to drop her biology major and commit to music – and has so far appeared on approximately 176 albums1As per Rick Lopez’s labor-of-love fansite (click here), and assuming I can count that high with accuracy., collaborating with a who’s who catalog of her peers. She is a prolific composer who seems to be constantly on tour or in the studio. Honestly, does she ever sleep? read more

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The Ears, They Embiggen

Every year I eagerly await that unmistakable harbinger of autumn that lifts my spirits and brings me hope for better days ahead. No, it’s not that god forsaken pumpkin spice everything. And for us inmates of America’s most phallic-shaped state it damn sure ain’t the crisp snap of cool and dry weather. read more

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Banging the Can

By Rob Rushin-Knopf, Culture Warrior
(Photo of Shara Nova by Peter Sterling, 2022, courtesy of Long Play Festival)

On May Day (workers unite!) I attended the final day of Bang on a Can’s inaugural Long Play Festival. Scheduled to debut in 2020 (but, well, ya know…), the festival delivered three full days of music, with roughly 60 acts across eight venues mostly within a roughly four block radius; two stages were less than a mile distant. On my way to collect my festival pass, I considered the times I had seen BOAC perform, all of them at the Big Ears Festival. I mentioned this to BOAC’s Director of Development Tim Thomas and noted that the Long Play setup – multiple sets run simultaneously among easily-walked locations – was similar to the Knoxville vibe. read more

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Forever Momentary Space

My final installment of my Big Ears coverage focuses on the musical ambassadorship of Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble during their time in Knoxville. This is a super-condensed introduction to their music.

(Part 1 of the series here. Part 2 here. A little something extra for Part 2 here.)

Black Monument has released two albums on the Chicago-based International Anthem label, 2019’s Where Future Unfolds and the monumental Now. Recorded during summer 2020 – under the shadow of pandemic, social unrest, and an unutterably bizarre political climate – Now qualifies as an instant classic, right down to the chorus of cicadas that accompany the outro to the title track. (Due to Covid, the Now sessions were held in a garden behind the recording studio.) read more

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