Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Exploded View

Steve Tibbetts - Live at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (12/88) Part 1
Steve Tibbetts - Live at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (12/88) Part 2

I was always wanting some new kind of guitar kick back in the 80s. Still am, honestly. So, everytime I read about an awesome guitarist that I hadn't heard of, say in Forced Exposure or Option or something, down to the record store I went. Bought a lot of crap that way. Piles of crap. Stinky, stinky crap. Steve Vai levels of crap.

But I also got some beautiful things, including a couple of albums by this Steve Tibbetts guy. I found out when I was buying them that he grew up in Madison, so I liked the connection, even if he did run off to that crazy weird Minnesota place.

ECM was and still is the label for Tibbetts. But don't let that label - literally! - fool you. There is nothing fake, phony, lite, new-age or half-ass jazzy about Tibbetts. (I'm talking about current ECM-type-roster musicians, not the greatness that it was in the 70s!)

Tibbetts will take you into deep space, explode a couple suns around and inside your head, toss you into a black hole and jump in gleefully after you, his whole band (all two of them usually) laughing along with him as the g-forces rip all of you into component atoms and spit you out half-way across the Universe when you finally emerge out the quasar at the other end. Or something like that. That's what it felt like when I saw him live, anyways.

And live is how you should experience him if you have qualms about buying anything vaguely new-agey and being laughed at by nerdy record store clerks. There are still a few of them around, right? I saw him at the beautiful Old Music Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, right down by Lake Mendota. Perfect summer night. Lovely conservatory full of public-radio types, all twenty or thirty years older than me and my buddy Larry. I haven't told you about Larry yet. Some other day.

I'm not sure how many of the public-radio types left as soon as they could, but it was more than a handful. They were expecting quiet soothing strains of a vaguely world music kind of variety and instead got supercharged power-trio psychedelia, at Fillmore volume levels! Larry and I laughed through the whole show - it was beautiful!

Anyway, Tibbetts has a great website (dig around and find some of his funny stuff), so you've no excuse not to buy shit!

And the art here is from one Andrew C. Stewart, of whom I know naught but I did steal his picture.

Now playing: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Into My Arms
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Reimer said...

Looking forward to hearing ST live all those years ago. I still follow ECM but it is very up its own arse in recent years. Yes, odd that ST has released so much stuff on the label, given the Rock/Electronica elements in it and Tibbetts' own thoroughly unstudious pre-Slacker career approach. 'Going Somewhere' on 'Safe Journey' is perhaps my fave single track.