John Fahey – “City of Refuge” (1997)

October 13, 2011 at 8:23 am (Music, Reviews & Articles)

This review comes from Salon, May 20, 1997. Gary Kamiya clearly doesn’t like this album. He, unwittingly though, makes it sound like something I definitely want to run out and buy…

There has always been something a little spooky around the edges of John Fahey’s music. The record that made the guitarist a bigger-than-cult figure around 1968 (it’s hard to say just how big he was; in 1968, everything was a cult), Blind Joe Death, seemed to come from an older, darker, more obstinate world than the rainbow-hued one that was blasting out of most of the speakers back then. His solo steel-string guitar — all iron-solid fingerpicking, shifting bass lines under an ominous Delta-blues attack — had a naked deliberateness, an almost Gothic quality.

Fahey’s 10-finger virtuosity helped bring the acoustic steel-string guitar onto center stage as a solo instrument and inspired numerous followers, most notably Leo Kottke. His own career has followed an idiosyncratic path, from versions of songs by Brazilian guitar masters Baden Powell and Bola Sete to traditional folk melodies to adaptations of orchestral themes. He’s even Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink 2 Comments