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Russell Potter

A Stone's Throw

    The latest in a series of reissues spawned from Imaginational Anthem Volume 8 : The Private Press, following Tom Armstrong - The Sky Is An Empty Eye and Rick Deitrick - Gentle Wilderness/River Sun River Moon Reflections on Russell Potter by IA8 co-producer and poet, Michael Klausman : The two latest reissues to spin off from our acclaimed Imaginational Anthem Volume 8: The Private Press feature the solo guitar compositions of Russell Potter, recorded in the last waning days of the initial American Primitive explosion. A then obsessed teenaged devotee of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Leo Kottke at a time when Punk and New Wave were ascendant, Potter harnessed a similar DIY ethos to his own ends by starting his own label & self-publishing his first record, 'A Stone’s Throw’, while a freshman enrolled at Goddard College in Vermont in 1979.

    Assembled at the legendary Boddie Records in Potter’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and sprinkled liberally with references to his heroes, from the initial record label name of Fonytone (which more than a little recalls Fahey’s earliest record label, Fonotone), to the arcane song titles and references to obscure rags. Even as he looks to his elders, Potter’s debut release nimbly evinces a complete mastery of his form and is all the more remarkable for one of such tender years, as only the chutzpah of youth can account for such moves as successfully grafting one of your own composition to one of John Fahey’s, as he does here. There’s a very immediate, lovely, and real homespun quality to Potter’s chiming twelve-string compositions that puts it in the realm of those classic records that seem to simply exist outside of time. Shortly after ‘A Stones Throw’, Potter produced & released a 45rpm single by an Ohio bluegrass band featuring the cult singer songwriter Bob Frank performing a cover of Devo’s ‘Mongoloid’, before moving on to his second (and sadly final) album the following year, ‘Neither Here Nor There’. Following an independent study with a Goddard College ethnomusicologist, Potter’s compositions and performance only deepened on his second release — the recording quality steps up a little but loses none of the immediacy, the playing gets more exuberantly virtuosic —but then more reflective too, particularly on the tunes that are influenced by the gorgeous traditional Irish slow airs.

    He’s still tipping his hat to Fahey occasionally as well, this time with an audacious electric guitar setting of the classic “Dance of the Inhabitant of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain.” Though these albums landed at a time when American Primitive guitar music’s 1960s & 1970s heyday was in the rear view mirror, they absolutely look ahead to the genre’s eventual 21st Century resurrection, anticipating both in form & content many of the same concerns you find in the great contemporary work of the last two decades by Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, et al., and as such provide about as fine a stepping stone between these two eras as you’re likely to find

    Rick Deitrick

    Coyote Canyon

      Coyote Canyon is a wilderness area behind my daughter's house where coyotes gather and howl before taking off for their nightly foraging. Little Tujunga (pronounced "Tuhunga") is a river running through the Angeles Forest near a house I lived in five decades ago. Half my ideas for this piece came from onshore guitar ruminating. The rest was improvised in studio. Emma was my close and sweet companion during this period, a lifelong deep friend. I composed her song one evening at the kitchen table of our place while she was cooking.

      Tumbleweedin' describes a desert tumbleweed storm. I menaced every inch of the Yamaha, recreating the effect of these 4 windblown monsters screeching along boulders, smacking into cactus and anything else in their way at often impossible speeds, following the whims of the heavy winds. This song was completely improvised at the moment in studio and forgotten. Roy's Rain is a tribute to my great good friend and musician killed in a car accident in 1973. I found For Marsha Version2 on a well-worn studio tape. It's a variant of the same composition on the Gentle Wilderness album. I like this loose and flowy version. Movin' On has one thing on its mind -- getting away fast and now. Going Home is my improvised take on an American root song. The above seven were recorded between 1972-1975. Three Sisters was recorded on a 20-minute studio break in 1999 describing three barren red hills somewhere in the Arizona desert, a cherished location.

      Russell Potter

      Neither Here Nor There

        The latest in a series of reissues spawned from Imaginational Anthem Volume 8 : The Private Press, following Tom Armstrong - The Sky Is An Empty Eye and Rick Deitrick - Gentle Wilderness/River Sun River Moon Reflections on Russell Potter by IA8 co-producer and poet, Michael Klausman : The two latest reissues to spin off from our acclaimed Imaginational Anthem Volume 8: The Private Press feature the solo guitar compositions of Russell Potter, recorded in the last waning days of the initial American Primitive explosion. A then obsessed teenaged devotee of John Fahey, Robbie Basho, and Leo Kottke at a time when Punk and New Wave were ascendant, Potter harnessed a similar DIY ethos to his own ends by starting his own label & self-publishing his first record, 'A Stone’s Throw’, while a freshman enrolled at Goddard College in Vermont in 1979.

        Assembled at the legendary Boddie Records in Potter’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and sprinkled liberally with references to his heroes, from the initial record label name of Fonytone (which more than a little recalls Fahey’s earliest record label, Fonotone), to the arcane song titles and references to obscure rags. Even as he looks to his elders, Potter’s debut release nimbly evinces a complete mastery of his form and is all the more remarkable for one of such tender years, as only the chutzpah of youth can account for such moves as successfully grafting one of your own composition to one of John Fahey’s, as he does here. There’s a very immediate, lovely, and real homespun quality to Potter’s chiming twelve-string compositions that puts it in the realm of those classic records that seem to simply exist outside of time. Shortly after ‘A Stones Throw’, Potter produced & released a 45rpm single by an Ohio bluegrass band featuring the cult singer songwriter Bob Frank performing a cover of Devo’s ‘Mongoloid’, before moving on to his second (and sadly final) album the following year, ‘Neither Here Nor There’. Following an independent study with a Goddard College ethnomusicologist, Potter’s compositions and performance only deepened on his second release — the recording quality steps up a little but loses none of the immediacy, the playing gets more exuberantly virtuosic —but then more reflective too, particularly on the tunes that are influenced by the gorgeous traditional Irish slow airs.

        He’s still tipping his hat to Fahey occasionally as well, this time with an audacious electric guitar setting of the classic “Dance of the Inhabitant of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain.” Though these albums landed at a time when American Primitive guitar music’s 1960s & 1970s heyday was in the rear view mirror, they absolutely look ahead to the genre’s eventual 21st Century resurrection, anticipating both in form & content many of the same concerns you find in the great contemporary work of the last two decades by Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, et al., and as such provide about as fine a stepping stone between these two eras as you’re likely to find

        Gwenifer Raymond

        Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain

          Welsh musician Gwenifer Raymond’s 2018 debut album, You Never Were Much of a Dancer, introduced a new voice on acoustic guitar, receiving 5 stars in The Guardian, big spreads in MOJO and UNCUT, and airplay on multiple BBC programmes. This led to months of touring on the European festival circuit. Her latest, Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain, finds Raymond ranging into unexplored experimental territory, drawing from her Welsh roots.

          In her own words : My new album, 'Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain', has eight songs in it. All were recorded in a basement flat in central Brighton, locked-down amidst a global pandemic. I recorded them myself and neither I, nor any of the songs saw said outbreak coming. Coronavirus may have dictated the circumstance under which the album was recorded but it did not otherwise inform any of the compositions that run through it; like I said, we didn't see it coming. Growing up in Wales was not a theme strongly present in my first record (perhaps not too surprising in an album of 'American Primitive'), but I feel as though my memories of that time have started to insinuate themselves in the tunes here.

          In my opinion, landscape does a lot to shape a community's folk music; from my childhood I recall tall, spooky trees, black against the grey sky, breath misting in cold air, and I have tried to take something of Welsh folk horror to make my own 'Welsh Primitive'. Whilst this isn't the only theme present in the album, childhood memories do form the background for a couple of tracks: coal trains steaming along the foot of our garden, rattling the glasses on the kitchen table; and the titular 'Strange Lights...' dancing above the peak of the mountain which loomed over the house where I grew up. Dead men also feature prominently, as well as personal tragedies and the madness of touring. It's possible this album is leaning more into the left-field than the first - the songs are longer and more 'compositional' for lack of a better word, rather than deriving so heavily from the folk and blues traditions, though, they're still there - all of those dead men are hard to shake. Some parts go fast and others go slow. Sometimes I play more aggressively than I intend to and other times I play exactly as aggressively as I intend to. I still say it's punk music and I have no idea what key the last tune is in.For Erik Satie, Master Wilburn Burchette, and Ruben the dog.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: At points taut, but brilliantly emotive throughout, 'Strange Lights...' is an album full of rhythmic twists and unbelievably skilful and effecting performances.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Incantation
          2. Hell For Certain
          3. Worn Out Blues
          4. Marseilles Bunkhouse
          5. Gwaed Am Gwaed
          6. Ruben’s Song
          7. Eulogy For Dead French Composer
          8. Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain 

          Wall Matthews

          Spine River:The Guitar Music Of… 1967-1981

            Guitarist Wall Matthews is surviving member of experimental 70's collective, Entourage. Sampled by Four Tet, their name whispered in reverence through the decades, Entourage forged bold musical ideas on their two rare ’70s Folkways LPs. Tompkins Square released 'Ceremony of Dreams : Studio Sessions and Outtakes, 1972-1977', in 2017 to wide acclaim. 'Spine River : The Guitar Music of Wall Matthews, 1967-1981' is a collection of unreleased or obscure music by the master guitarist. This volume will be released as a limited edition LP, along with four other digital volumes of Wall's music, chronologically mapping his career. Praise for Entourage : "A three-hour stream of instrumental riches, whether you’re looking to find samples or get lost in a trance....

            These 30 tracks alternately conjure the ecstatic minimalism of John Cale and La Monte Young, the billowing clouds of Arvo Part, the aleatory intrigue of Derek Bailey, and the strange guitar beauty of Sandy Bull" – Pitchfork "As seriously as they clearly took their playing, the music never lost its sense of playfulness and joy" - PASTE (8.7/10) "This is essential and irresistible vintage American weirdness." - All Music Guide (4.5) "...it's transporting stuff." - Rolling Stone "Erring between Alice Coltrane-esque spiritual jazz, Steve Reich’s minimalism and stunning instrumental folk, Ceremony of Dreams highlights 30 tracks from a fiercely creative period between 1972 and 1977 that did not appear on the two Folkways albums released at the time." - Vinyl Factory "New age gongs, drones, sax, pastoral guitar, scraped violas … Think Third Ear Band's druid rock meets early Popol Vuh with the obvious chops of a less slick Weather Report" - Record Collector (4 stars)

            Will Beeley

            Highways & Heart Attacks

              HIGHWAYS & HEART ATTACKS is a remarkable return from a singer-songwriter whose work might well have been lost to dusty record crates and the secret annals of Americana musical history. But with Tompkins Square’s 2017 reissues of Beeley’s two stunning albums, 1971’s GALLIVANTIN’ and 1979’s PASSING DREAM, the Texas-based troubadour finally earned the applause his distinctive songcraft long deserved, with Noisey praising his “deeply felt, little heard, folk music” and PASTE noting, “With the re-release of these fine LPs, we can spend some time more fully appreciating them before (Beeley’s) very welcome return to the music world.” Recorded at San Antonio’s Blue Cat Studios with producer Jerry David DeCicca (Chris Gantry, Ed Askew, Larry Jon Wilson), Grammy® Award-winning engineer Joe Trevino (Flaco Jimenez, Los Lobos, Los Texmaniacs), and Grammy® Award-winning mix engineer Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power, Phosphorescent),

              HIGHWAYS & HEART ATTACKS sees Beeley backed by a combo of Americana all-stars that includes accordionist Michael Guerra (The Mavericks), guitarist Don Cento (Sarah Jaffee), bassist Canaan Faulkner (The Black Swans, Ed Askew), drummer Armando Aussenac (Neon Indian), organist Richard Martin, and Grammy® Award-winning violinist Bobby Flores (Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm, Willie Nelson). Songs like “Been A Drifter” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade” are both wistful and warm-hearted, Beeley’s rough-hewn vocals the ideal vehicle for his one-of-a-kind tales of a road well traveled and a surprise ending hard earned

              TRACK LISTING

              1.Been A Drifter
              2.Jack Daniels
              3.The Homeless Ain’t Just Hobos Anymore
              4.Don’t Rain On My Parade
              5.U.S. 85
              6.Help Me Face The Days
              7.Taste Of The Good Times
              8.Singin’ Lullabies
              9.It Didn’t Feel Like Christmas (And It Sure As Hell Ain’t New Years Yet) 10.Telling Stories

              Will Beeley

              Gallivantin'

                Tompkins Square reissue the self-released mega-rare (only 200 copies) private press LP Gallivantin' from 1971. Recorded in San Antonio, Gallivantin' shows Beeley's heartfelt, folky side - a wistful set of original tunes, plus a cover of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" and a spaced-out, 10 minute+ Eastern-influenced psych take on Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Little Wheel Spin & Spin / Co'Dine".

                Now a truck driver living in New Mexico, Will Beeley recently recorded his first new album since 1979's Passing Dream. Produced by Jerry David DeCicca of The Black Swans (who also produced Larry Jon Wilson's final album), the new one features Michael Guerra (The Mavericks), and is mixed by Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose, Cat Power's The Greatest). The album is slated for release on Tompkins Square sometime in 2018.

                First-generation American Primitive guitarist Richard Osborn studied with Robbie Basho in the late 60's. 40 years later, Osborn finally recorded, appearing on Tompkins Square's 'Beyond Berkeley Guitar' comp in 2010. 'Endless' is his first widely available solo guitar album. "[Osborn has] an unhurried, quiet spirit of adventure, a love of ringing strings and slowly revelatory meditations on the natural world."- Acoustic Guitar "He's a student of mine and he's better technically than me or Fahey." - Robbie Basho

                The first legit reissues of these rare, stellar LP's by DC-based singer/songwriter Bob Brown. Richie Havens took Bob under his wing, produced both albums, and released them on his Stormy Forest label distributed by MGM. Although they failed to make a commercial impact at the time, cosmic-folk enthusiasts and vinyl-heads have long placed these albums in high esteem alongside the works of exploratory greats like Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley. 

                Kid Millions Reworks Harry Taussig

                Beyond The Confession

                  Kid Millions is a musician, composer and writer best known as the drummer and founder of Brooklyn's experimental rock behemoth Oneida. For the last twenty years, Millions has been at the forefront of the NYC experimental music community collaborating with artists as varied as Laurie Anderson, Yo La Tengo, Boredoms, So Percussion and William Basinski. Enter his album-length conversation with the recordings of the unjustly obscure guitarist Harry Taussig, whose 1965 private-press album Fate Is Only Once was reissued by Tompkins Square in 2006. This strange gem was followed by two new Taussig recordings - Fate Is Only Twice(2012) and The Diamond of Lost Alphabets (2014). Tompkins Square proposed that Millions take this raw material and fashion something completely new. Millions took the material up to Kingston NY and through working with his engineer Matthew Cullen emerged with an album of rare beauty in keeping with the spirit of Taussig's work while suggesting directions previously unexplored in his oeuvre. To create this new work, Millions and Cullen overdubbed guitars, drums and organs onto the original tracks and sent the material into other damaged psychedelic dimensions only hinted at in the original works. Millions writes in the liner notes, "[Taussig is] not slavishly attended to technique but we also don't feel any boundaries to his expression. One of his classic tunes is subtitled "Fantasia in A" and in a way this term is a perfect label for his entire oeuvre. A fantasia is an improvisation that touches on many themes and styles. Some of his songs are very tight and tidy and I was drawn to some of them. But I also wanted to stretch these moments of loose revelation and turn a spotlight on Taussig's generous search." We're left with a kind of revelation - a so-called "remix" album which can actually stand on its own and illuminate both artists' work.

                  In celebration of the centenary of Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas silent film series, James Blackshaw was invited by Yann Tiersen to perform a live score to the fifth and final film, Le Faux Magistrat, at the beautiful and prestigious surroundings of the Théâtre de Châtelet, Paris on October 31st 2013.Fantômas – a master of disguise and symbol of terror – is one of the most popular characters in French crime fiction, as well as a favourite with the avant-garde, particularly the surrealists.Tim Hecker, Amiina, Yann Tiersen and Loney Dear also performed during the event (which was broadcast live on the European ARTE channel) each bringing their own unique sonic perspective to the other installments in the series.Written during the course of a few months, Blackshaw drew influences from French impressionist composers, Brazillian guitar music, musique concrete and the works of other film composer such as David Shire and Pino Donaggio, to create a noirish score that is in turns sinister, quietly profound and thrilling.Personally invited by James Blackshaw, experimental musicians Duane Pitre and Simon Scott (also of Slowdive) contributed drums, electronics, synth, bowed guitar, bass and more to Blackshaw’s nylon string guitar and grand piano, with multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson adding violin, vibraphone and several wind instruments to the 75 minute long work.

                  The essential contemporary guitar anthology series continues. Since 2005, Tompkins Square label's 'Imaginational Anthem' compilations have featured some of the greatest acoustic guitarists in the world, with recordings spanning five decades. More than mere samplers, these albums have served as state-of-the-art dispatches from the front lines of the art form. The first three volumes, available as a low-priced box set, intermingled generations of American Primitive players - lost, forgotten masters next to contemporary players. Volume 4 saw a departure from that formula, featuring only new jack players. Volume 5, available November 13, also features the current crop of younger players, but with a twist. This is the first volume not compiled by Tompkins Square's Josh Rosenthal. Instead, he recruited guitarist Sam Moss. "I felt I'd exhausted most of the older guys I wanted to dig up, and I wasn't hearing that much new guitar that I really liked. I sensed that Sam knew what was going on." The result is a gorgeous panoramic view of contemporary guitar, full of agile finger-style, and a few jagged detours.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Temple Walk - Steve Gunn
                  2. I Think We'll Be Happy Here- Jordan Fuller
                  3. Lookout Point- Danny Paul Grody
                  4. There Is A Place In This Old Town- Nick Schillace
                  5. Hemet Pine Singer- Will Stratton
                  6. John Fahey Commemorative Beer Can- Bill Orcutt
                  7. Confederate Rose- Daniel Bachman
                  8. Through A House Of Violet Abandon- Eric Carbonara
                  9. Her Unmediated Eyes- Tom Lecky
                  10. Standing At The Entrance Of A Hidden City- Alexander Turnquist
                  11. Modern Man In Search Of A Song- Cam Deas
                  12. Rivers Gone Badly Wrong- Yair Yona

                  Various Artists

                  Imaginational Anthem Volume Two

                    Released in October 2005, "Imaginational Anthem Volume One" featured two generations of important acoustic guitarists, from John Fahey and Sandy Bull to Jack Rose and Kaki King. Volume Two expands and builds on this theme with 70+ more minutes of guitar magic. 23-year old UK 12-string upstart James Blackshaw opens the record, while the late master Robbie Basho, a clear influence on Blackshaw's style, closes it. Basho's track is the only live recording by this groundbreaking guitarist ever released. Riches abound with new recordings by former Takoma roster alumni Peter Lang (who made an album with John Fahey and Leo Kottke), Billy Faier (an original Greenwich Village folkie who's late 50s Riverside records inspired a fellow crack banjo player, Steve Martin) and an archival home recording by Fred Gerlach (a favorite of Jimmy Page). The new breed is well-represented by fascinating figures of today - Smith, Christina Carter, Jesse Sparhawk, Sharron Kraus, Jack Rose and James Blackshaw. Legendary singer/songwriter Michael Chapman, whose first albums for the Harvest label in the 60s are now seeing the light again, contributes as well.


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