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State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words

State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words published on No Comments on State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words

Since my last entry saw me waxing existential about what I’d done with my life, here’s a post with one or two conclusive answers.

State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words, was recently published. It’s a collection by Ralph Gibson, a seminal American photographer, of dozens of guitar players, along with brief writings by the guitarists themselves about their relationship to the instrument. The list of players profiled includes David Torn, Allan Holdsworth, Jim Hall, Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, Andy Summers, Nels Cline, Les Paul, and many others.

…including me. No, really.

In January of 2004, I played at the New York Guitar Festival, opening for David Torn. Ralph Gibson was at the show to take pictures of Torn, and after I did my soundcheck, he asked if he could do some shots of me as well. Some time thereafter, he asked me for some words about the guitar to accompany the shot, and the rest is… well, a pretty amazing book that I somehow got to be a part of. For me, it’s a trip to see a short-haired Andre playing a Steinberger guitar again, and while I’m not sure I still would have used the phrase “caterwauling car alarms” (ahem…) in my written entry, I’m thrilled beyond measure to be included.

Like a lot of things in the music world (and life in general, for that matter), it’s a classic case of randomly being in the right place at the right time, and happening to be heard by somebody who digs what they hear, and is in a position to do something about it.

Serious thanks go to David Torn, who invited me to play the gig where Ralph heard me in the first place (and who also gives me a very gracious mention in his own entry in the book), along with David Spelman, the director of the New York Guitar Festival, who saw fit to have me on the gig in the first place. And of course, immense gratitude to Ralph Gibson for seeing fit to put a player like myself in a book like this. I was 29 when that gig went down, so there’s at least one thing I did with my ’20s.

You can see a preview of some of the shots, along with a full list of the guitarists in the book, at this link. State of the Axe: Guitar Masters in Photographs and Words, is available at book stores and websites everywhere.

My Tempus is Fugiting

My Tempus is Fugiting published on 13 Comments on My Tempus is Fugiting

OK, not the most prolific blogger over here…

Lots going on, very little of it seemingly worth talking about on a web page. But I’ll give it a go…

Teaching guitar is one of the very best jobs in the entire world, and although things are a little softer than they have been in previous years, I’ve still got a very good schedule of 30-plus students, plus a “school of rock” – style band that I help coach (and play bass guitar in, too!) Like pretty much every single other person I know, I’ve been extremely stressed about money for the last few months, but teaching has been remarkably resilient to the economy.

I haven’t played any solo gigs for quite a while, mainly because the two venues I used to frequent – Nova Express (the space-cafe pizza joint in Hollywood) and Dangerous Curve (an art gallery and performance space in downtown) have both closed down. It’s a drag to not be able to book a gig; there are plenty of venues in Los Angeles, but most of them require an artist to bring at least 15 or so people through the door. I can’t guarantee that kind of audience in LA; I’ve done shows for a lot more people than that, and I’ve done shows where no one at all showed up to see me.

Being “homeless” in a performance-venue sense has been a bit of a head-twister. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last few months going through the typical tortured artist/thirty-something bohemian motions: wondering exactly what the hell I’ve done with the last several years of my life, feeling like a cryptic madman howling alone in the wilderness, wondering why I didn’t spend all of that time learning classic rock songs and jazz standards instead of programming drum machines and studying Echoplex parameters, etc etc ad nauseum.

The main result of all of this is that, partially because of not having impending gigs to have to prepare for, and partially because of the above-mentioned feelings of dissatisfaction with myself, I’ve been practicing guitar more intently and obsessively than I have in many years. It can be hard to gauge one’s progress on a day-by-day basis – it’s a bit like looking in the mirror every morning to see if your hair’s growing – but there are things I’ve been trying to do for a long time that I’m finally getting a bit of a handle on, and things seem to be flowing more smoothly and fluently than they have in a long time.

I feel a bit like I did in ’98-’99, when I was recording Disruption Theory, or in 2002 when I was trying to find a voice with the Echoplex; like I’m putting myself back together again. Ten years ago I was obsessed with being a jungle/instrumental hybridist, and seven years ago I wanted to deconstruct my own concept of looping. Right now, I’m trying to turn myself into a guitar player. Not a post-DJ looping slice-and-dicer (though I still have plenty to say in that world) and not an electronic-meets-organic composer. I want to be a guitar player. And God help me, I’m actually seriously thinking about recording new original music for the first time in at least six years. Even if I don’t have a venue to sell a CD at!

YouTube!

YouTube! published on No Comments on YouTube!

Huge thanks to Jody Beth Rosen for filming and uploading these clips!

This first one is from May 12th, 2008 at CalArts, where I played in a guitar department alumni concert along with Thomas Leeb and Dustin Boyer.


The second and third are from Cafe Metropol in LA on Friday, June 20th, 2008, taken from a solo set I played that night. Also on the bill were Todd Reynolds, Daren Burns and Motoko Honda.


Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence

Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence published on 2 Comments on Hot on the heels of another highly successful absence

Holy smacks, laziest blogger ever…

– The third Hollywood film to feature my playing on the original score gets wide release in the US next week. (Apparently it’s already on DVD in other parts of the world.) More details in a few.

– Gig this Sunday at Dangerous Curve along with Ken Rosser and Bill Forth. I always have a fine time a sharing a show with these gentlemen, and Dangerous Curve is a favorite place to play.

– Speaking of which, Nova Express, the space cafe I played at since mid-2005, is no more. The spot closed shop forever about a month back; I was lucky to be able to play the final night it was open, along with Daren Burns and Chris Opperman. Very bittersweet for me, as I had a lot of great gigs there during a pretty difficult period of my life. But it’s a good impetus for me to get in gear and start looking for other performance prospects.

– An alarming number of waiters and cashiers have referred to me as “ma’am” over the last few months, and at least a couple of men have done double-takes upon catching a glimpse of me when entering a restroom. Presumably this is from seeing my now-very long hair from the back. Although the fact that I seem to be going through my mid-’30s dressing like a teenage girl probably doesn’t clarify matters too much. At least Chuck Taylors and skinny jeans are pretty low-maintainance as mid-life-crisis signifiers go.

Sunday Sunday Sunday

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A gig this weekend at a favorite spot of mine:

Sunday, September 30
4:00 PM | $7 – $10 sliding scale
Dangerous Curve – http://www.dangerouscurve.org

This will be my third time playing at this very cool art gallery and performance space in downtown LA. Also on the bill will be my good friend and very fine bassist Daren Burns (http://www.darenburns.com), playing duo with an extremely innovative guitar player named Scott Collins. (When I’ve seen Scott, he’s wielded a self-made doubleneck fretted/fretless instrument.) A gentlemen named Marc Thomas rounds out the show for the afternoon.

Performance order at Dangerous Curve is typically determined right at the time of the show, and/but I encourage you to check out the whole afternoon.

Come one, come all…

Come one, come all… published on No Comments on Come one, come all…

(what a funny phrase that is.)

Gig, yo:

Wednesday, Sept. 12 | 8:30 PM
Nova Express – http://www.novaexpresscafe.com
Free admission

A triple-bill with two fantastic guitarists: Ken Rosser and Bill Forth. The three of us did a show together at Dangerous Curve a month or two back, and it was great fun, so I’m excited to see what happens at Nova with this bill.

Ken Rosser:
http://www.kenrosser.com and http://www.myspace.com/kenrosser

Bill Forth:
http://www.livesofthesaints.net and http://www.myspace.com/livesofthesaints

Your truly:
http://www.altruistmusic.com and http://www.myspace.com/andrelafosse

"The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

"The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.” published on 1 Comment on "The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

One of my main musical fascinations in 2007 has been an artist whose work I was literally afraid to start listening to for a long time: a Texas recluse who goes by the name of Jandek, who has self-released over 50 albums of extremely singular and abstract music over the last 29 years.

I don’t know how to begin describing Jandek, so here are a few favorite quotes from the Guiide to Jandek (from whence the subject header comes) that I find particularly fitting:

“Every Jandek record is a letter as personal as it is anonymous. Listening to a new one I get the feeling I should not be listening at all… To study, analyze, and ponder over these private soundtracks is quite immoral.”

“It’s always difficult to tell how much of the Jandek oeuvre is the result of a psychological problem and how much is consciously constructed aesthetics. ”

“As it creepily gets darker, Jandek is the perfect accompaniment for making you feel that, yep, life really isn’t worth living. It’s not necessarily what he says, it’s the way he says it… But, there’s something strangely life affirming about the whole thing. That someone like this, with the ability to track down those dark corners of the brain can somehow get his art (or artifice) out there.”

“Jandek lives next door to someone far away, someplace where ‘music’ is an expression of emotion and not a packaged entertainment; made for self, rather than for an audience… There’s some sorta feeling trapped in the sound that I like to bask in.”

“It works, though I can’t figure out why. I get the impression that part of Jandek’s purpose is to confuse people. The album is absolutely ridiculous but I can’t stop listening to it… the muddy, distorted sound quality draws the listener into Jandek’s very strange world and MAKES him/her try to understand…”

“Rounded up into one big heap, all the Jandek records at once amount to an almost impenetrable thing… A demanding, invigorating, tragic, visionary work.”

“The absolute extremity of these deathbed blues suggests either an aesthetic pushed near its ultimate point or inhuman exhaustion.”

“The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

“The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.” published on 1 Comment on “The anxious beauty of isolation and doubt.”

One of my main musical fascinations in 2007 has been an artist whose work I was literally afraid to start listening to for a long time: a Texas recluse who goes by the name of Jandek, who has self-released over 50 albums of extremely singular and abstract music over the last 29 years.

I don’t know how to begin describing Jandek, so here are a few favorite quotes from the Guiide to Jandek (from whence the subject header comes) that I find particularly fitting:

“Every Jandek record is a letter as personal as it is anonymous. Listening to a new one I get the feeling I should not be listening at all… To study, analyze, and ponder over these private soundtracks is quite immoral.”

“It’s always difficult to tell how much of the Jandek oeuvre is the result of a psychological problem and how much is consciously constructed aesthetics. ”

“As it creepily gets darker, Jandek is the perfect accompaniment for making you feel that, yep, life really isn’t worth living. It’s not necessarily what he says, it’s the way he says it… But, there’s something strangely life affirming about the whole thing. That someone like this, with the ability to track down those dark corners of the brain can somehow get his art (or artifice) out there.”

“Jandek lives next door to someone far away, someplace where ‘music’ is an expression of emotion and not a packaged entertainment; made for self, rather than for an audience… There’s some sorta feeling trapped in the sound that I like to bask in.”

“It works, though I can’t figure out why. I get the impression that part of Jandek’s purpose is to confuse people. The album is absolutely ridiculous but I can’t stop listening to it… the muddy, distorted sound quality draws the listener into Jandek’s very strange world and MAKES him/her try to understand…”

“Rounded up into one big heap, all the Jandek records at once amount to an almost impenetrable thing… A demanding, invigorating, tragic, visionary work.”

“The absolute extremity of these deathbed blues suggests either an aesthetic pushed near its ultimate point or inhuman exhaustion.”

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