Arcana VIII

Arcana VIII

I wrote an essay for "Arcana VIII: Musicians on Music: 20th Anniversary Edition". Edited by John Zorn.
Published by Hips Road/Tzadik
(Release date: Sept/Oct 2017)

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Ballad of an Unarmed Man

Ballad of an Unarmed Man

This was a pivotal moment for me in finding my voice as a solo guitarist. I recorded all these tunes in my home in under an hour in the first take in early February 2016. It was cold outside, and it was just before bedtime. A number of the songs I had not ever heard before. Thanks to the charts in an old worn copy of Happy Traum’s “Flat-Pick Country Guitar” book, I had some visual cues to coax me through the forms and fragments of melody to return to. 
I had no plan to go in this direction musically. My practice for the six months prior to the moment of this recording involved pulsing repetitions on open strings, intensely focused listening to dynamics and the peculiarities of timbre as I turned my fingers ever so subtly this way and that. I was working on no specific music, but rather just dialing my focus in to the sound of actual contact with the instrument, caressing it, listening to each note’s decay. It was a very meditative period of practice--effortless and kinesthetic. 
Nearly 25 years into playing guitar, and I had always been a dabbler in many styles and approaches. I had always enjoyed improvising and writing original music. I never really became a “jazz guitarist” or a “classical guitarist” or any other kind of specific guitarist, though I had often played professional gigs in these and various other idioms. Nor could I fully commit myself entirely to free improvisation and non-idiomatic playing. I had always been so taken by song and narrative, and the communication of emotion that the blues and its musical offspring offer. I am so interested in the history of the instrument in its very many contexts that I could never plant my flag in one camp. 
In retrospect, much of my attempts at music prior to this session felt forced. There was a sense of trying that made the music feel rigid and unnatural. What happened with this recording was I simply stopped trying, I had no plan, and I just let go. And things finally felt natural. It didn’t seem like I was genre-hopping. All my influences combined into something whole. I wasn't trying to impress anyone with my chops. I just got out of the way and let what happened happen. The music became organic and fluid.
This recording became the de facto “demo tape” that I sent to friends and record labels. I am grateful to John Zorn for hearing where I was coming from and signing me to produce the album “Undertaker Please Drive Slow” for Tzadik Records. That album is a much grander production than this one, thanks to a proper budget and the recording talents of David Allen, and the mastering wizardry of Scott Hull at Masterdisk. I also spent months planning for that record, as opposed to this recording, which came like a revelation in a flash of inspiration into my little digital zoom recorder at the foot of the bed. 
So, here it is. Another message in a bottle. Traditional music filtered through one guitarist’s non-traditional subjectivity. 
Peace and love,
Shane Parish
September 1, 2017

2010 journal entry

2010 journal entry

I just stumbled across this journal entry of mine from December 2010. 
 "12/15/10 - It is going to be all about the steel string for solo performance. Percussive and sustaining. Will have to get a nice one. Soon! The studies I have yet to do, but identified a couple years ago remain clearly at the front of my mind. I should tackle these immediately in order to hone my concept and technique for the coming music. They are: John Cage's Prepared Piano Sonatas, a piece by Moondog, one of Capt. Beefheart's solo guitar pieces, and a Chinese Traditional music piece (perhaps “The Ambush”), and Konono. These should be transcribed and performed live! For a mental note to remain this clear for this long is a sure sign of the correctness of its suggestion."

Also, Here are my tour dates for this month!!

Also, Here are my tour dates for this month!!

Makaya McCraven & Shane Parish

Makaya McCraven & Shane Parish

In late 2015, International Anthem brought me to Chicago to play a duo with drummer Makaya McCraven.  We met for the first time at the The Whistler, and performed two sets.  

Today, you can enjoy some fruit from that session, thanks to The Whistler!

http://whistlerchicago.com/recordings/makaya-mccraven-shane-parish/

 

NYC CD release show at The Stone + a duo with Trevor Dunn

NYC CD release show at The Stone + a duo with Trevor Dunn

I recently made a quick trip up to NYC, and had the honor of playing a duo with bassist Trevor Dunn, one of my favorite musicians.  We shared a bill with three incredible guitarists, Ava Mendoza, Brandon Seabrook, and JR Bohannon, who played solo sets.  The next night I played my Tzadik Records CD release show at The Stone.  It was a full house and I played for nearly 90 minutes.  This was all documented by the prolific NYC avant-garde music documenter, Don Mount.   Here are the videos:

 

Big Ears Performances mentioned in the Wall Street Journal

Big Ears Performances mentioned in the Wall Street Journal

I had an amazing experience performing at Big Ears Festival 2017 in Knoxville in March, and I saw so many incredible concerts.  Here are a few words about my sets that appeared in the WSJ's stellar review of the whole festival.

"On Thursday, guitarist Shane Parish performed frenetic electric jazz with drummer Ryan Oslance in their duo Ahleuchatistas, then re-emerged the next day with an engaging set of acoustic blues."  Here is a link to the full article: WSJ