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Listening Post: Daniel Bachman’s ‘River’

Folk/Roots

Daniel Bachman, “River” (Three Lobed Recordings). The great John Fahey died in 2001. Leo Kottke suffers from tindinitis bad enough to make his music, at best, a memory of his former self. If you are looking for a plausible replacement of music in their astounding acoustic guitar tradition – music that seems to reinvent folk and roots music while you’re listening to it – you need to discover 20-something guitarist Daniel Bachman. This is wonderful music that has no exact genre (we probably ought to call it “Fahey” in honor of its earliest and finest exemplar) but has enough precedents and devoted fans that, no matter how esoteric it may be, always deserves many more listeners than it has. NPR is doing what it can to spread the reputation of Bachman everywhere it belongs, but NPR’s music isn’t heard everywhere. Bachman just needs to be heard by many more listeners to advance close to where he deserves to be. This is purportedly Bachman’s musical portrait of the Rapahonnack River running from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Chesapeake Bay. It’s, among other things, slide guitar playing so sly and virtuosic that it couldn’t help making Ry Cooder laugh with pleasure. People used to call Fahey and even Kottke neo–“primitive” musicians. In fact their music – and this too – is an astonishingly sophisticated reinvention of American folk tradition for its own sweet sake. Four stars. (Jeff Simon)

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