I saw more incredible solo guitarists during the course of the Hopscotch Music Festival than I’ve seen in the rest of my life combined. Each man’s style left an impression, from the psychedelic leanings of Ben Chasny to the Piedmont blues influences of Chuck Johnson. Of all of these distinct and excellent players, none had a style of purer beauty than Glenn Jones. A devoted fan of John Fahey, arguably the founder of the American Primitivism style of guitar, Jones spent decades playing self-made compositions in his bedroom before finally gaining the courage to begin playing solo shows in public back in the early 2000s. (Jones was no stranger to performing in public generally, though – he has served as guitarist in the Boston-area instrumental band Cul de Sac since 1989.) Today, Jones’ style draws not only from the country and blues that sparked American Primitivism, but also from classical guitar, which often gives his songs a lilting, elegiac quality that sets him apart from his peers.
Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium might have been a daunting venue for a solo guitarist who used to be afraid of performing in front of crowds; asking Jones to hold the attention of the massive hall completely unaccompanied was no small request. But Jones not only held his own, but shone, giving us an hour of his compositions interspersed with narratives that expanded on the songs’ themes. A good chunk of the set draws from Jones’ latest and best solo record, the 2011 Thrill Jockey release The Wanting. One of the most striking aspects of Jones’ playing, for guitar aficionados, is his abandonment of standard tunings (which he did about 25 years ago, by his count). Jones used a different tuning for every song on The Wanting, and that gives that record – and this set – another distinction.
I recorded this set with Schoeps MK41 microphones and a North Carolina-made Naiant tinybox preamp. Recording relatively quiet music in a large hall presents challenges, and in this case, the overall recording level was lower than optimal for most of the set. This means that some hiss from the recorder’s internal components and the house PA can be heard in the recording. However, it remains a worthwhile document of Jones and what he has to offer. Enjoy!
Thanks to Glenn Jones and his management for permitting us to offer this recording here, and to Terry Watts for the clamp space and running my rig.
Stream the entire set:
Please note that at the request of the artist, this set is available for streaming only.
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Hopscotch Music Festival
Raleigh, NC USA
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Schoeps MK41 (DINa, DFC, FOB)>KCY>tinybox v2>Sony PCM-M10>24bit/44.1kHz WAV>Audacity (set fades, tracking, reduce applause, amplify, balance, downsample to 16bit)>FLAC ( level 8 )
01 Redwood Ramble Misremembered
03 Like A Sick Eagle Staring at the Sky
05 The Great Pacific Northwest
07 The Paddle Wheel Nathan Bowles
09 Going Back To East Montgomery
11 Of Its Own Kind
13 The Orca Grande Cement Factory at Victorville [w/ Chris Corsano]