Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 : 19-20 Jack Rose & Charlie Parr

Jack Rose and Charlie Parr are two guitars who are often called "new traditionalists." Finger-pickers harkening back to an earlier era, Parr plays traditional folk and Piedmont blues-style songs on 6- and 12-string guitars, and banjo; Rose comes from the John Fahey tradition, but also incorporates elements of Indian ragas and minimalist drone.

Parr's father grew up on a tenant farm in northern Iowa with 17 siblings and rode out the Great Depression on freight cars. He rode them to Appalachia and Texas and every other corner of the country. He finally settled into a job shoveling animal parts at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minn where he raised Charlie. Charlie dropped out of high school just one year in and left home to see the country. He settled in a rooming house in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1985 learning songs by artists his father used to play on the record player: Elizabeth Cotton, Fred McDowell, and Doc Boggs among others.

Jack Rose grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He started playing the guitar at age 10 and joined the group Pelt in 1993. In 2001, he began recording more and solo acoustic guitar compositions, appearing on the seminal Wooden Guitar compilation on Locust Records. His open tunings and long form compositions never lost the psychedelic and rock flavors of his earlier music, almost defining the word "deltadelica."

Both Jack and Charlie carry a certain blues and folk tradition forward, while putting their own stamp on it, reinventing it, bringing their own influences to it. Here is Parr covering a Blind Willie Johnson song, "God Moves On The Water," while Jack plays his own composition, "Kensington Blues."

A sad footnote: Jack Rose died of a heart attack on Dec 8 at the age of 38.

Darren DeMonsi

Listen: Jack Rose >> "Kensington Blues" | Charlie Parr >> "God Moves On The Water"

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