Friday, October 17, 2014

Chuck Johnson & Daniel Bachman share two sides of solo guitar at The Pinhook

All photos by Justin Weber
If you’re a fan of American primitive guitar music, there might not be a better place to be than Durham, NC at the moment. With The Pinhook regularly booking solo guitar acts and NC labels like Three Lobed, Bathetic Records and even Merge putting out solo guitar albums, fans from outside the area must be looking at the Bull City thinking we’re spoiled.

Chuck Johnson and Daniel Bachman certainly did nothing to change that assessment. Both played short sets — the show started around 9:20 and was over by 11 p.m. — but showed the breadth of the genre.

Bachman, a 24-year-old from Virginia, played with a youthful energy, slapping his slide and grimacing at slightly out of tune notes.

Bachman’s music is infused with Appalachia, not only in the traditional twang, but in the percussive nature of some of his rhythms. “Orange County Serenade” even references a few notes from “Camptown Races.”

His face showed the small frustrations and joys he felt during his set. He was expressive, much more so than Chuck Johnson.

Johnson, born in Raleigh and now living in Oakland, has been making music for decades and his experience showed. His face was calm and unbothered, almost in another world separate from his hands except for a few glances downward.

Johnson’s music is darker in tone than Bachman’s and more patient as well. Johnson often allows notes to hang in the air and seep into the room. It sounds gentle, but massive.

He played some new music as well as a medley of short tunes composed for the TV show A Chef’s Life.

“Most of my songs don’t have titles until it’s time to put something on an album cover,” Johnson said as he introduced a new piece. “Because it’s instrumental music, I don’t associate them with words.”

It’s equally difficult to associate words to his music from an audience perspective as well, but lucky is one of them. Durham and the rest of the Triangle are lucky to have world-class guitar players favor our home and to be a part of this growing genre.

No comments: