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John Fahey: Vol. 4 - The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party and Other Excursions

Glenn Astarita By

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Vol. 4 - The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party and Other Excursions represents archival material culled from the early to mid-60’s by legendary acoustic guitar pioneer John Fahey who melded traditional Americana type themes with a deeply personalized vernacular. On the nineteen-minute title track, the guitarist combines grassroots style picking with odd tunings, unorthodox phrasing and keen utilization of space and depth. Yet Fahey also experimented with EFX back in those days which is evident on “Knott’s Berry Farm Molly”, as we find the artist implementing reverse guitar, presumably by using a tape machine. However, Fahey also performs alongside a church organist named “Flea”, flutist Nancy McLean and sitarist “Mysterious Al Wilson”, (the late Allen Wilson of “Canned Heat” fame) on various selections. According to the liners, Fahey is “unsentimental about his old work” yet despite the inferior audio quality on some of these tracks, it is always a joy to hear this great musician reinvent previously explored terrain. Here, we are provided with a snapshot of a period in music when “The Beatles” were hot, and the dawning of the psychedelic age was upon us. Simply put, John Fahey pushed the acoustic guitar to its limits via his trail blazing applications and investigative spirit, as Vol. 4 - The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party and Other Excursions offers yet another glimpse of this now legendary artist.

Fantasy Jazz – Takoma Records

Track Listing: 1) The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party 2) Knott

Personnel: John Fahey; guitar: Nancy McLean; flute ( # 5): Flea; organ (# 3): Mysterious Al Wilson; veena (# 6)

Title: Vol. 4 - The Great San Bernadino Birthday Party and Other Excursions | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Takoma

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