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Isaac Guillory performs in Berkeley
July 2, 2007 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Isaac Guillory was widely regarded as probably the best acoustic guitarist in Britain. These three clips from a Berkeley performance in 1989 show why he is still much missed.
posted by teleskiving (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for the link, he is amazing. In case anyone wanted to hear more like I did, i found this place to buy CD's.
posted by ukdanae at 12:25 PM on July 2, 2007


never heard of this guy before but sure was happy i watched the vids. great stuff thanks
posted by jmccw at 1:09 PM on July 2, 2007


wikipedia
posted by unmake at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2007


Huh. I like the Cryan' Shames' 60 psych-pop stuff, but never knew one of them had such an interesting solo career. Here's Guillory's bio/tribute page at the Cryan' Shames site. Thanks for the cool post.
posted by mediareport at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2007


Thanks for turning me on to this guy; I hadn't heard of him. He's not anywhere near as interesting a guitarist as David Rawlings is.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:35 PM on July 2, 2007


chuckdarwin: yourfavoriteacousticguitaristsucks
posted by jmccw at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2007


He's got chops, for sure.

This and that Leo Kottke post from a few days ago both underscore the idea that there's a tremendous amount of subtle and often-overlooked technique going on in the right hand, despite that many beginner/intermediate players seem to focus entirely on the fretboard-hand area. In fact I'd go so far as to say that this is the very reason that it's custom to use your dominant hand as the pick hand not the fretboard hand.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:30 PM on July 2, 2007


jmccw, I do like what I heard... but you can't just say stuff like widely regarded as probably the best acoustic guitarist in Britain when Richard Thompson is gigging and releasing albums.

Listen to Beeswing or 1952 Vincent Black Lightning again. (youtube it for yourself)

It's also hard thread for me to be objective in, being a professional guitarist.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:49 PM on July 2, 2007


but you can't just say stuff like widely regarded as probably the best acoustic guitarist in Britain

I knew I was going to regret saying that! My next post will be superlative-free.

Anyway, if you want more, Isaac's friend George Maat has made the whole set available at anetstation.com (click on "Home" then on the animated GIF of Isaac). The site is slow and downtime-prone but you should be able to get it eventually if you're patient. It's well worth it if you can get hold of it - as well as a lot more steel-string pieces there's a bit of nylon-string stuff and an absolutely beautiful version of "People Get Ready" at the end.
posted by teleskiving at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2007


Its also a hard thread for me to be objective in, being a professional human.
posted by Saddo at 4:59 PM on July 2, 2007


Talk about your serendipitous North Florida connection:

I had never heard of Isaac Guillory--although I saw him play many times in 1965 in Jacksonville, Florida. According to the bio page kindly linked to above by mediareport (peace be unto him), Isaac played with the Illusions, the hottest band in town c. 1965 in Jacksonville when I was in high school!
posted by rdone at 7:51 PM on July 2, 2007


Nice post, teleskiving, even with the superlative. I still have the copy of Guillory's first solo album that I got to review in 1974, but I honestly can't remember if I ever even listened to it. (I was getting 20-40 albums a week in the mail back then.) Will have to dig it out and give it a spin; if he's half as good as Richard Thompson it'll be worth it.

I never realized he was connected with the Cryan' Shames at all.

p.s. Always thought Davey Graham (or Bert Jansch, or John Renbourn, or Martin Carthy) was considered the top British acoustic guitarist.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:11 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Always thought Davey Graham (or Bert Jansch, or John Renbourn, or Martin Carthy) was considered the top British acoustic guitarist

It's quite hard to compare Guillory to any of these, because he was not actually a native Brit and most of his music was clearly more influenced by the USA and to some extent his early years in Cuba than the UK. As well as the traditional blues songs and odd jazz classic (Nuages, Stardust), there would be covers of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and Paul Simon songs for example, as well as his own compositions which covered a lot of different genres.

I suspect one reason he didn't become more well known is that it was hard to categorize him - his shows were a celebration of everything you could do with a steel-string guitar and voice, plus a bit of classical guitar sometimes as well. Probably more importantly, he was committed to doing things his own way without record-label restrictions. Check out this obit in the Independent.

BTW Guillory played a lot of shows with John Renbourn, which generally ended with a jam session between the two of them. I never saw them together, but it must have been quite something.

Also BTW, probably just about everyone here has heard Isaac at some point because he played guitar on "Video Killed the Radio Star" while working as a session musician!
posted by teleskiving at 1:21 AM on July 3, 2007


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