Guitar Heroes and Other Influences, 1972-1991

In 1972 we went to Nova Scotia. In the succeeding 18 years I made many trips to Boston for books and records, and bought a lot by mail order as well. Catalogs from Roundup (in Cambridge) and Down Home Music (in El Cerrito, CA) brought a very broad variety of artists and musics to my attention.

Norman Blake

Cattle in the Cane

Old Brown Case

John Hartford Vamp in the Middle

Grisman Quintet/Quartet

Tony Rice's guitar break in E.M.D ("Eat My Dust") was truly life-changing. I had theretofore almost no idea of the possibilities of guitar as a lead instrument in Bluegrass and related musics.

Bill Monroe
Of course I knew of the Bluegrass Boys, but it wasn't until I heard Get Up John that the mystery of Bluegrass really impressed me:


John Renbourn

Martin Carthy
I knew of The Watersons unaccompanied singing, and that Martin had joined the group. I should have connected with his solo work sooner than I did, his use of non-standard tunings being irresistable. The version of Byker Hill (with Dave Swarbrick) blew me away.

Paco de Lucia Bulerias

(from Carlos Saura's Carmen)

John Miller
First encountered as a member of the Ithaca-based band Country Cooking, but his solo work is what really grabbed me. See biographical info for more details

A 1979-1980 sabbatical at Stanford booted me into record-buying binges and coincided with my increasing fascination with mandolin-family instruments. I went to concerts (Grisman most significantly) and began to explore "world music" more energetically. Radio station KFAT contributed mightily.

I hunted up John Bilezikjian and spent a morning with him:


Klezmer Conservatory Band

Bireli Lagrene



Andy Statman Wheels of Karma break 1:50-2:27

Statman with Zev Feldman

Clarence White
I first heard of him 5 years after his death (I had been unaware of his membership in The Byrds, and of his Bluegrass origins and lead guitar innovations). Amazement ensued when I heard pieces like Sheik of Araby

Clarence's B-bender:

It's just as well that I didn't know of Kaleidoscope during my graduate student years. They might have derailed my academic career...

Bothy Band
One of the rich burst of Irish music that I followed in the 70s and 80s

Andy Irvine and Planxty

Martin Simpson

Nic Jones

Paul Brady

Dick Gaughan

Tom Waits looms large for sheer creepiness:

I first learned of Rembetika via listings in Downhome Music's record catalog for a 6-record compilation and Gail Holst's Road to Rembetika: music of a greek sub-culture, songs of love, sorrow and hashish. Instantly smitten and sucked into a massive obsession. See an expansion of this passion.


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