James Blackshaw is acknowledged as being one of the finest guitarists in the UK and we are fortunate enough to have him booked to play in Dennistoun (by Glasgow East Arts Company) at the theatre in Whitehill Secondary School on Saturday the 5th of May. It serves as a worthy follow-up to the Frank Fairfield gig held in the venue last June.
Blackshaw performs celestial and spirit-lifting guitar-led compositions. Meditative in quality, cinematic in scope, his music spirals gracefully across complex patterns, motifs and harmonics. He made his name as a 12-string acoustic guitarist, and his relationship with the instrument is near perfect. Swirling overtones, cascading notes and a thousand points of light cascade from his guitar and create ever-shifting textures that bear the influence of contemporary classical composition, post-rock dynamics and invisible soundtracks as much as the American folk guitar tradition.
It should be a great evening. Here’s a taster video of him performing River of Heaven:
He has been written about with reverence and has played churches, festivals, folk clubs and large concert halls on his many travels in the US, Europe and Japan. These have included extensive touring with the reformed Swans, as well as collaborative performances with Hauschka and Nancy Elizabeth. He performs and records as a member of Current 93 and with Jozef Van Wissem as Brethren of The Free Spirit.
Grayson Currin of Pitchfork had this to say about his music:
“… A veritable solo symphony that’s as schooled in uncommon beauty as it is in complex 20th century composition… Blackshaw writes high drama into instrumental music with subtlety and charm, speaking on sentiments and stories without requiring a single lyric… Blackshaw seems fully settled, engaging his pieces and ideas with the unflinching belief of Tony Conrad in 1964 or Steve Reich in 1965…”
Read an profile article by The Rolling Stone here.
Support comes from Lancaster’s Rob St. John, whose complex and layered songs marry British Folk, drone, krautrock and psychedelia, with rich, haunting vocals that have been compared to such greats as Ian Curtis and Nick Drake.