Brad Barr

The Barr Brothers, SMMD, The Slip

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Brad Barr by Jake Krolick

Even if one was unfamiliar with the name Brad Barr, it would only take a single spin of the self-titled debut from The Barr Brothers (pick it up here) to understand what a devastatingly inventive, emotionally rich guitarist he is. Barr is captivating from the Bill Frisell-esque tone poetry of “Beggar In The Morning” through acoustic work that shows more than a passing familiarity with Fahey and the American Primitives, on to jagged-edged jolters “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying” and “Give The Devil Back His Heart,” which evoke a foundational blues that speaks simultaneously of Africa and its American descendent – all this and more on just one album in a career full of such gifts. Even when raging, Barr doesn’t charge into the foreground very often, preferring to serve each song with a profound listener’s heart, his playing deft and intuitive, a pleasure and a surprise even on repeat listens. His resistance to Jeff Beck style showboating disguises the depth of his technical artistry, but Barr is no less worthy of a Guitar Player cover story. Like most things in The Barr Brothers (and adjacent projects Surprise Me Mr. Davis and The Slip), there’s some sleight of hand where magic is kept intact by a careful practitioner’s dexterous hands, except this is no mere trickery or illusion and thus all the more satisfying for those bearing witness. Barr is a charmer within shadows, an innovator, and sometimes a provocateur, a player who is never lazy or predictable but also far less elusive than most guitarists operating at his level, his instrument reaching out from its mysteries to spin one around with deft flick of the wrist and flutter of graceful fingers.

We’ve been hoping to add Brad to the list of Shredders who’ve graced the Impound for a while and offer our thanks to him for taking time to share a slice of his mind.

read on for Brad’s answers

Andrew Trube

Greyhounds, JJ Grey & Mofro

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Andrew Trube

One should smile when they see Andrew Trube headed towards a stage. The six-string secret weapon in Greyhounds and JJ Grey & Mofro is a primo flavor enhancer with a style that doesn’t bark after solos so much as stir the pot beautifully. Oh, Trube has chops to spare but his ear and instincts place him closer to subtler sorts like John Fogerty, Shuggie Otis, The Paladins’ Dave Gonzalez and Marc Ribot. His range is yawning wide, seemingly comfortable wherever you drop him in. Just focus in on what he’s doing on a given song and you’ll hear someone down in the cut – deep – but rarely in a way that leaps up for attention. Some folks don’t need a spotlight to let you know how damn good they are.

Currently on Mofro’s fall tour, Trube also put out a sweet, leave-em-wanting-more new EP with the Greyhounds recently titled Spring Training that does more in four cuts than many bands tackle on an album. Every track is soulful in some way – hard to avoid with a Stax/Volt ready singer like Anthony Farrell or Trube’s own warm-grit pipes – but they dish it up in varied ways, from the nu-soul ready “What’s On Your Mind” to the blues-moderne of “Yours To Steal” (a rival for the best of The Black Keys) to the coulda-been-a-Sam-And-Dave-hit “Soul Navigator” to playful New Wave cartoon “H-E-L-L-O.” And Trube tells DI that the ‘Hounds have a new album coming up before too long. Based on this taster, it’s gonna be very fab, and in the meantime you can pick up the EP here for a name-your-own-price deal.

Andrew Trube is a musician’s musician, one of those guys that other guitarists watch with hunting dog intensity when he’s onstage. We’re happy to have him join the list of Shredders who’ve graced the Impound with their wisdom.

read on for Trube’s answers

Eddie Roberts

The New Mastersounds

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Eddie Roberts by John Margaretten

Eddie Roberts is a blindingly good guitarist. As I once tipsily gushed at him on Jam Cruise, “The way you play makes me believe you just think faster and more smoothly than the other monkeys out there.” The New Mastersounds guitarist simply offered a cocked eyebrow and a slight smile. One thing Roberts does not lack is confidence, and his command of his instrument and the flow and rush of his band, particularly onstage, is something special. In another cat, it’d come off as cocky but Roberts has the skills to pay whatever bills are served up, his playing offering happy flashes of Leo Nocentelli, Melvin Sparks and Grant Green. The texture and tone of his work – equal measures super clean and growlingly nasty – is as important as the undeniable technical ballsiness he displays, and while others may not hear it, these ears catch some of Paul Weller’s gift for instinctive tastiness and riff consciousness. Eddie’s also an increasingly strong vocalist on the group’s most recent studio foray, Breaks From The Border, where he also offers a taste of his phenomenal tambourine talents – a much, much harder instrument to make swing and interlock with others than most understand. Still, it’s Roberts six-string prowess that will likely cement him in most folks’ minds, and as such we asked Eddie to tackle the Impound’s guitarist survey.

read on for Eddie’s answers

Daryl Hance

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Daryl Hance

Seated onstage all those years in Mofro, one might have missed what a six-string monster Daryl Hance is, but there’s no mistaking how he’s right in line with contemporaries like The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and North Mississippi Allstars/Black Crowes man Luther Dickinson on his welcome solo debut, Hallowed Ground (released January 25 on Pine Tar Recordings). The album reveals what a goddamn sexy player Hance truly is, as well as showing off his ear-catching songwriting and singing skills – there’s something of John Fogerty to the whole package actually. It’s Southern rock with a psychedelic lover man’s twist, and anyone who likes it humid and right in the pocket is likely to plotz over Hallowed Ground.

We grabbed Daryl for our virtual guitar symposium to gain insights into his mojo.

read on for Hance’s answers

Tim Sult

Clutch

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Tim Sult by Jason White

Tim Sult is quite the lean, keen-edged musician. As Clutch’s lead guitarist for over 20 years, this riff beast has allowed little waste or flamboyance. His attack cuts clean or moves jagged intentionally. There’s something of a chef’s knife control to Sult, where the happy accidents occur in the development process and what follows on record or stage is pure intention. His solos are models of brevity but his presence is felt just as powerfully in the tone and texture of Clutch’s music. He’s always there, or lurking nearby, moving hard towards you or hanging back for a well-timed moment before lunging back in. To say he’s a master of “feel” is a bloody understatement, and it’s to be wished that more guitarists looked to Sult as a role model than spark-tossers like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani.

The diversity of Sult’s playing has rarely been as well showcased as on Clutch’s recent reissue of Blast Tyrant (released April 26 on the band’s own Weathermaker Music), where what was already an evolutionary album for the band (and Sult in particular) gets a bonus disc of acoustic tracks and raw-but-right demos called Basket of Eggs. The acoustic tracks expose Sult in a way the all-enveloping Clutch sound doesn’t usually allow, and what’s clear is he’s got real blues in his bones. Clutch’s last studio release, Strange Cousins From The West, showed the band fully capable of electrified blues-rock of the highest order, but the Eggs tracks offers a more traditional, rollicking confirmation that Clutch can add the blues to their credits along with punk, metal, hard rock and hip-hop.

Clutch hits the road again starting July 20th in Brooklyn. Find their full itinerary here, and jump inside to see what Tim had to say to our seven six-string questions.

read on for Sult’s answers

David Sullivan

Red Fang

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Red Fang by Alicia J. Rose

I have raved so vigorously and so often about Red Fang’s sophomore joint, Murder The Mountains (released April 12 on Relapse), that I’m concerned some will think I’m exaggerating. Trust me, I am not. This is hard rock at its thick, possessed, boogie-addled best. They snarl but there’s no Cookie Monster grumbling, and the whole mess of it leaps at you like a quality spook in a funhouse. Oh, there’s doom aplenty – voices murmuring ‘succumb’ and trap door musical drops – but they’ve got two badass singers, a punishingly good drummer, and two guitarists that suggest what a big syringe of punk juice might have done to Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Put simply, this band connects with everything it swings at.

David Sullivan (guitar), John Sherman (drums), Maurice Bryan Giles (guitar, vocals) and Aaron Beam (bass, vocals) possess serious chemistry, the kind that allows a band to grow exponentially from their debut to their follow-up…and their self-titled 2009 debut is fucking awesome – the kind of slab that makes you glad there’s giant speakers with low end that vibrates your balls while you whip your neck around uncontrollably. That animal vibe persists, to a degree, on Murder The Mountains but they’ve worked in something like sophistication. The songs whip into unexpected places and then, just as smoothly and unpredictably, rush back into the familiar tune. It’s a bit like what Iron Maiden does sans the operatic posturing and busier-than-it-needs-to-be musicianship. Red Fang can play but they’re smart in not letting things get too smart. This music wallops you in the belly, makes your head swim AND isn’t dumb or evil baiting nonsense. In fact, their lyrics are a nifty hornet’s nest to poke around in, if one’s down for a few welts.

The predominant flavor in Red Fang’s music is guitars whipping one around, having their way with the listener, who usually offers up no complaint for their groping. So, we’re pleased to offer some six-string insights from Mr. David Sullivan (who I met briefly at the SF Metalliance gig and found to be a very cool dude).

read on for David’s answers

Mark Karan

Jemimah Puddleduck, Ratdog

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Mark Karan by Alan Hess Photography

Mark Karan is cut from a classic mold. In his ceaselessly tasty playing one hears grin-inducing hints of Mike Bloomfield, Marc Ford and Roy Buchanan. Karan has serious technical knowhow but he never lets it get in the way of delivering feeling, dipping into gutbucket rawness as well as a delicacy that’s akin to guitar calligraphy.

More than anything, the man plays to songs, sidestepping almost all the usual showboating and spotlighting seeking one often finds in guitarists. He listens hard and has an instinct for melody and flow that’s a deep pleasure. It’s especially commendable that he has maintained this level of humility coming from the cult-minded world of Grateful Dead fans, for whom he’s played in The Others Ones and Ratdog, where Karan has been an exemplary guitar foil for the highly idiosyncratic Weir for many years, providing stability and grace where Bob is all sparks and flying colors.

These days Mark Karan is focused on his own band, Jemimah Puddleduck, where he sings lead vocals and takes on primary songwriting duties for their originals while leading a band of pros comprised of Bob Gross (bass), Billy Lee Lewis (drums) and JT Thomas (keys), though some upcoming dates will feature Bay Area great Mookie Siegel on keys while Thomas is out touring with Bruce Hornsby. Find full tour dates here.

Karan has been one of the Impound’s favorite six-string wizards for close to a decade, and the guy only seems more varied and right-on with every passing year. He’s one of those wonderful, rare musicians whose presence means things are gonna be better than they would have been otherwise. Mark has a strength of character and musical depth that rings through in his voice, his instrument and his stage presence, and we’re delighted to pick his brain for this segment.

read on for Mark’s answers

Eli Jebidiah

Poor Man's Whiskey, Guitarmageddon, Huckle

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Eli Jebidiah by John Margaretten

Eli Jebidiah is a sneaky axe man. It’s tough to get a bead on his own style because he’s such a gifted chameleon, taking on the not inconsiderable challenge of inhabiting the styles of Prince, Jack White and Duane Allman in just in the past year, not to mention his original work in Poor Man’s Whiskey. Eli is a grand listener, filling in the spaces his fellow musicians leave open and accentuating the positive in their playing. Increasingly, he’s shown himself an emerging bandleader, taking over the reins of Bay Area six-string orgy Guitarmageddon and steering it into interesting new spaces [check it out for yourself this Thursday, February 24 at Slim’s in San Francisco at the inaugural Guitarmageddon Blues Ball. More info here]. What remains universal in all of Eli’s various incarnations – be it PMW, Guitarmageddon or his new solo effort Huckle – is the residing quality and sincerity of the music he makes. As baldly enjoyable as his output and performances often are, there’s serious respect for his craft and an attention to detail that emerges in the economy and zing of his guitar work. He’ll make you smile and then back it up with ample chops and imagination. What the hell else do you want from a shredder?

read on for Eli’s answers