Tu Vuo` Fa` L'Americano
The Train and the Gate
Spanish Two Step
Richard Gilewitz is a virtuosic American finger-style guitarist who is arguably the finest exponent of the genre pioneered by his friends and mentors: John Fahey, Peter Lang and Leo Kottke. Richard approaches this tradition with deep respect and care. In concert he will often juxtapose a standard of American finger-style guitar with a classical piece and bookend both with strange stories and amusing anecdotes.
Leo Kottke, a sometime master of understatement, once described Richard Gilewitz as a "weird guy". Given that Leo was probably fairly close to the mark it seems fitting that Richard would record his next live album in a place that has its own unique reputation for weirdness.
Imagine if some god of myth took a bit of the south of England, a bit of Ireland, a mountain range from Kentucky and some of the coast from the US Pacific North West and squashed them up into a heart shaped island, then dropped it mysteriously south of Australia and north of Antarctica. Australia has its own "Further Down Under" sometime referred to as, "The End of The World". That place is Tasmania, a place with wyrd written into its very soil and air.
When Richard and I collaborated to arrange for him to come to Tasmania to record and perform, we were both aware that there was something of historical significance brewing.
In 1959 the enigmatic father of finger-picking music, John Fahey, produced the first album of steel string guitar instrumentals. John drew on folk styles, blues, bluegrass, classical and oriental ideas to build a concert repertoire for the steel string guitar.
He went on to co-found Takoma Records, and to discover and mentor Leo Kottke among others. In 1981 he visited Tasmania and in a legendary concert recorded the famous album 'John Fahey Live in Tasmania'. I had been at that concert 30 years ago so it came as a surprise to me that in America it was believed by many in the guitar fraternity that this was another of Fahey's famous hoaxes and that he had never been to or recorded in Tasmania.
In fact it was real and a lot of odd things happened that night in the old theatre at the University of Tasmania. Fahey performed magnificently despite partaking of generous quantities of the strong local ale. A large part of the recording did not work so Fahey repeated the second section of the program, while a few of us stayed back to generate the required applause for a live performance.
Thirty years after Fahey's famous visit, Richard Gilewitz retraced the steps of his mentor and performed three concerts in Tasmania and gave a number of workshops. Despite arriving in the coldest windiest week of Tasmania's maritime winter, Gilewitz drew large enthusiastic crowds for all of his performances. Milking orchestral textures from his six and twelve string guitars, delighting audiences with silly tales and sonic adventures, his own "Tasmania Live" album will undoubtedly become an iconic recording in its own right.
Recorded live in Tasmania, July 2011 at Brookfield Margate and Palais Theatre