No question about, James Blackshaw is a monster guitarist.
The young British axman sat on stage at the Fake Coffeehouse (aka, the old Campus Center Rathskellar – which is next to a Wendy’s now!) on Wednesday afternoon armed only with his 12-string Guild, and proceded to fire up four extended instrumentals over the course of his 40-minute performance. His fingerpicking was so impressive and intricate that at times it sounded like two or three guitars at once. Or a guitar and a mandolin. Or more…
His latest CD, “All Is Falling” (read our review here) showcases a more contemporary orchestral sound, and while he incorporated elements of that in his solo performance on Wednesday, he also harkened back to some of his earlier, more John Fahey-esque albums on the Tompkins Square label.
Equally captivating was the opening act Mountains – the Chicago-based ambient duo of Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp – who offered a dizzying 35-minute opus that cascaded and swelled into several dramatic peaks along the way. Both musicians alternated between plugged-in acoustic guitars and an array of electronics as they built a soundscape focused on gently shifting, hypnotic harmonic movement more than rhythm or melody.