A Pair of Prolific Pickers

by David

Previously I blogged about guitarist John Fahey, one of my all-time favorite acoustic players. Rounding out my list of acoustic masters we have Norman Blake and Tony Rice.

Norman Blake has had a stellar career, both as a studio musician (Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan) and on his own. He plays bluegrass/fiddle tunes/old-timey folk and his own original compositions, usually revolving around life in the South (songs about the Civil War, hard times, and the disappearance of the railroad). He plays mostly instrumentals, but he does sing occasionally, and I kindly suggest that his nasal, unvarnished voice is probably an acquired taste. Check out these clips of “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane” or “Church Street Blues“. Interested? Get “Whiskey Before Breakfast” from hoopla and begin exploring from there.

And my absolute favorite acoustic guitarist is Tony Rice. Tony is an amazingly fast picker, but he’s also clean and accurate, and he never lets his technique call attention to itself at the expense of the material. He’s played bluegrass, Gordon Lightfoot covers, and a style forged with David Grisman that he calls “spacegrass” that’s akin to Django Reinhart’s gypsy jazz. Give a listen to “My Favorite Things” or “Neon Tetra“, then check out “Backwaters” or “58957: The Bluegrass Guitar Collection” or my very favorite, “Devlin“, which is selections from the “Mar West” and “Still Inside” albums.




2 responses to “A Pair of Prolific Pickers”

  1. Alyssa (IA, LYN) says:

    I loved your John Fahey post. Will have to check these two out. 🙂

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