Tag Archives: Nathan Salsburg

Review : Nathan Salsburg “Affirmed” LP/CD (No Quarter, 2011)

nathan_salsburg_affirmedSince I already told the story of my friendly history with Nathan Salsburg in my review of his Avos duet LP earlier this year, I’ll cut right to the chase in talking about the compelling music on Affirmed, which is the Louisville-based guitarist’s debut full-length as a soloist.  Salsburg’s picking is clean, confident, and sometimes even a bit flashy. These eight upbeat and melodic tracks clearly indicate that Salsburg is a fingerpicker with little to no interest in the down-tuned, borderline new age exotica being explored by so many of his peers… and Affirmed sounds all the better for it.

Opener “Sought & Hidden” sets the tone: bouncy and upbeat, Salsburg throws down a strong alternating bass with nimble melodic figures in the middle and upper registers.  Like most of the tracks on the album, “Sought & Hidden” is highly composed with a strong narrative quality in the way the song unfolds. The primary theme is probably the most “minor” sounding of the entire record, though the mood here is anything but dark.  “New Bold Ruler’s Joys” picks up the pace a bit.  This jaunty rag-blues originally appeared on one of Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem collections, and this newer recording is more or less faithful to the original rendering. This track has a pleasing sophistication to it, with some very cosmopolitan jazz chords and cadences. Continue reading

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Review : James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg “Avos” LP/MP3 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

AvosLife is full of funny coincidences, isn’t it?  Exactly a decade ago, I was playing guitar in The Higher Burning Fire, something of a chamber-pop group that (by my influence) dabbled with folky and fingerpicked guitar patterns.  In the middle of a full-band relocation from Kansas to New York City, I received an interesting phone call from our drummer, already in the Big Apple – “I met this guy, he’s really cool, he’s gotta be in the band…  you’ll love him, he plays just like you!”  My excitable drummer must have somehow forgotten that I also played just like me, and that I was but one of the three more-than-competent guitarists in our band… a fourth guitarist?  Did it really matter what he played like?  His mind was made up, though, and I took the whole thing as a sign that maybe I didn’t want to carry on with the band any more.  “They’ll be fine, no shortage of guitarists there!” They did the New York thing (for a little over a year) and I found my way up to Boston.

Can you tell where I’m going with this?  That mysterious fourth guitarist was none other than Nathan Salsburg, freshly arrived to NYC from Louisville and working for The Alan Lomax Archives, a post that he holds to this day.  When I went back to New York a little while later to see what my former band mates had been making of themselves in their adopted home, I found Nathan to be not only a great guitarist but a sweet guy as well, and we hit it off talking about Bert Jansch and Scott Walker.

Fast forward about seven years… the band had long broken up and gone our separate ways, and I had devoted myself almost exclusively to acoustic guitar music.  I picked up the fantastic third volume in Tompkin Square’s Imaginational Anthem series and saw who else but Nathan listed among the artists on the back of the disc.  His standout track “Bold Ruler’s Joys” was not only one of the disc’s (and series’) highlights, but was one of the most compelling and confident acoustic instrumentals that I’d heard from any of the current generation of young fingerpickers.  Nathan didn’t play “just like me” at all, he was worlds better, in a league of his own!  I quickly got a message to the man, and we started keeping in touch regularly.

Over the last couple of years, Nathan has been sending me some of his works-in-progress, mostly next-level fingerstyle jams named after race horses… for he has moved back to his native Louisville, and the Kentucky Derby is like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras combined down there!  Last year, I began hearing from Nathan about another project, a guitar duet record involving a guy named Jim from Chicago.  Jim turned out to be James Elkington, of The Zincs and The Horses Ha, who also turned out (by yet another coincidence) to be the drummer for Brokeback, a Chicago group led by the legendary Doug McCombs (he of Tortoise and Eleventh Dream Day). I’ve shared a bill with Doug many times in the last few years, since he and my duet partner Dave are old friends from Dave’s Chicago days. It’s a small, small musical world folks, and it’s only getting smaller… but this back story and all its little coincidences could not have led to a more exciting moment, and now I have the great pleasure to review James’ and Nathan’s stellar debut Avos. Continue reading

Ben Reynolds November Tour

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Scottish guitarist Ben Reynolds is getting ready to embark on a quick US tour. We reviewed his Tompkins Square debut How Day Earnt Its Night not too long ago, and have since been spinning his Strange Attractors album Two Wings, which is equally good! We’re going to try to take some video at the Pittsburgh performance, so keep an eye out for that… and visit Reynolds’ Myspace page for updates on the TBA dates.

11/10 – Zebulon w/ Eric Carbonara, Mike Wexler, David Copenhafer
258 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn NY

11/11 – The Outpost w/ Eric Carbonara, Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, Mike Tamburo
186 1/2 Hampshire St, Cambridge MA

11/12 – The Appohadion w/ Mike Tamburo, Tom Kovacevic, Prisma
107 Hanover St, Portland ME

11/13 – The Spotty Dog w/ Mike Tamburo, Alex Turnquist
440 Warren St, Hudson NY

11/14 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo
Providence, RI

11/15 – BAR w/ Mike Tamburo
254 Crown St, New Haven CT

11/16 – Issue Project Room w/ Mike Tamburo
At The Old American Can Factory, 232 3rd Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn NY

11/17 – House show w/ Mike Tamburo, Eric Carbonara
4500 kingsessing Ave, Philadelphia PA

11/18 – Schlow Memorial Library w/ Mike Tamburo + others TBA
211 S. Allen St, State College PA

11/19 – Morning Glory Coffeehouse w/ Mike Tamburo
1806 Chislet St, Pittsburgh PA

11/20 – TBA w/ Mike Tamburo, Nick Schillace
Detroit MI

11/21 – Skylab w/ Mike Tamburo
57 E Gay St, Columbus OH

11/22 – Hop Hop w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler
800 N. Limestone St, Lexington, KY

11/23 – Little Hamilton w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, The Paper Hats
1318 Little Hamilton Ave, Nashville TN

11/24 – Swan Dive w/ Mike Tamburo, Keenan Lawler, Nathan Salsburg
921 Swan St, Louisville KY

11/25 – Heaven Gallery w/ Mike Tamburo
1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor, Chicago IL