In June, Work & Worry interviewed Oakland-based guitarist Ava Mendoza as part of its week-long series celebrating Tompkins Square Records’ new Beyond Berkeley Guitar compilation. Ava’s contribution, the ebullient “Regional Redwood Park Blues: Between Hay and Grass” is one of the collection’s highlights, sounding rather exotic in context with the other, more contemplative entries. Ava studied classical guitar technique while growing up, then traditional music theory at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and modern classical/electronic theory at Mills College in Oakland. Her formal musical background will come as no surprise to anyone hearing “Regional Redwood” for the first time, given its sophisticated chord movement and voicings. Yet, Ava plays with a sense of wonder, a sort of illusory naiveté, using a gritty-sounding, amplified Gibson ES125, exaggerating bends and ripping through runs with abandon. This dichotomy between sophistication and sense of wonder is in full bloom on her new solo guitar album, Shadow Stories. Continue reading
Oakland, California’s Ava Mendoza is a guitarist and composer who channels a broad range of influences, combining them into her own singular style. Country-blues, western swing, free jazz and heavy rock all find their way into her unique and exciting playing, and she has shared the stage with many luminaries from the west coast improv scene. We recently interviewed Ava about her appearance on Tompkins Square’s new showcase of Bay Area guitarists, Beyond Berkeley Guitar, which is out this week. Ava closes the collection with her composition “Redwood Regional Park Blues : Between Hay and Grass”.
W&W : Please describe the guitar you play on your track, how long you’ve owned it, where you got it.
I’m playing a Gibson ES 125. It’s a hollowbody with one P-90 pickup on it. I got it about 6 years ago off Ebay for about $600. They are cheap because they were and are not very popular guitars, not sure why… They’re not very versatile I guess, they kind of just have their one warm, fat sound, and they can get muddy through a dirty amp or effects if you’re not careful. In any case, I love this one a lot and have used it for many different things. Continue reading