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Calendar, Night&Day Apocalypse

Apocalypse

How do you make a film about a man as famously elusive as Bill Callahan? Filmmaker (and future Mrs. Callahan) Hanly Banks certainly didn't expect him to explain the lyrical labyrinths that make up 20 years of Callahan's music.…
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Calendar, Night&Day Ramsey's Roots

Ramsey's Roots

If it weren't for the Americana tag, North Carolina's Tyler Ramsey would be almost any record label's marketing nightmare. Heck, even the flexible, wide-ranging "Americana" doesn't do him justice. Ramsey draws from both folk and acoustic blues for inspiration, although…
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Music, Hear This Mexican six-string superheroes Rodrigo y Gabriela

Mexican six-string superheroes Rodrigo y Gabriela

Berkeley resident Sean Smith and the U.K.'s James Blackshaw are part of the underground acoustic guitar network, descending stylistically from American iconoclast John Fahey. Like Fahey, Smith and Blackshaw mostly perform unaccompanied, have tremendous technique that serves the music instead…
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Music, Folk of the Apocalypse: Six Organs of Admittance

Folk of the Apocalypse: Six Organs of Admittance

Local songwriter Ben Chasny admits that he often creates from the headspace of "Everything is kinda fucked; let's write a song about it." Despite working on fingerpicked themes in the tradition of steel-string players like John Fahey and Robbie Basho,…
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Music, Berkeley-Bound

Berkeley-Bound

In the mid-'60s, the phrase "Berkeley guitar" was essentially synonymous with the late John Fahey — the iconic Takoma Records founder who devised the mystical "American Primitive" style (complex fingerpicking and unique tunings merging Appalachian folk and early blues with…
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Music, Reviewed The Court & Spark

The Court & Spark

Local act the Court & Spark seems intent upon wresting the crown of thorns from the hometown duke of despondency, American Music Club. The first half of Hearts features mournful tempos and an ambience of unremitting gloom. Yet C&S is…
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Music, Reviewed Various Artists

Various Artists

Traditionalist, experimentalist, American primitivist, and overall legend John Fahey influenced a wide swath of musicians, and not just acoustic guitarists. But here he's remembered by a rabble of Americana all-stars, and their contributions follow the usual disjointed pattern of a…
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Music, Reviewed Ben Kunin

Ben Kunin

The soothing coastal paintings and pastel color washes on the packaging of Marin resident Ben Kunin's debut CD seem to indicate something mellow is about to waft from the speakers. Indeed, a solo-guitar instrumental album titled Acoustic Adventures brings to…
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Music, Reviewed Charley Patton

Charley Patton

Although he never got the notice Robert Johnson received through Eric Clapton and his crowd, Charley Patton is generally considered the king of the country blues pioneers. Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues shows just what made Patton so special: The…
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Music, Robbie Basho

Robbie Basho

In the history of solo guitar pioneers, the late Robbie Basho has long been overshadowed by John Fahey. While the pair's albums share some common characteristics, a new collection by Berkeley's Fantasy label shows that Basho's universe was unique in…
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Music, Mazarin

Mazarin

September 2001. Aesthetic fetishism becomes a federal crime -- film festivals are shuttered, vintage clothing stores torched. Jackbooted thugs descend upon Quentin Stoltzfus' three-story Philly home -- henceforth called a "compound" -- and confiscate the offending material: vinyl by acoustic…
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Music, Straight Outta Eureka

Straight Outta Eureka

Ben Chasny is feeling a bit giddy these days. This past month, the 26-year-old musician's home-studio project, Six Organs of Admittance, went from having a small cult following to being the toast of the slightly larger international psychedelic underground. The…
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Music,

Hear This

Oval and Jim O'Rourke A musical polygamist, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke inhabits at least two worlds, relentlessly and prolifically poking at the boundaries of modern folk and avant-garde noise. Blessed with a graceful finger-picking style that peeks over John Fahey's…
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Music,

Woodstick

It took a fanzine editor, a record store owner, and a small-time concert booker to make Terrastock II happen. And each of them will tell you that the three-day festival celebrating several variants of psychedelic music, which occurs this weekend…
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Music,

Reviews

EPMD Back in Business (Def Jam) L.L. Cool J Phenomenon (Def Jam) Most rappers drop one good album before they either run out of ideas or get overwhelmed by their own success. So it's instructive and curious to see the…
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