Accordions, Guitars, and Fiddles on High

by Josef Woodard

GUITARLINGTON NEWS: Heads are still spinning and hearts are still warm from last week’s Arlington visitation of the titanic Jeff Beck. On that night, Beck — 62 and rocking better, or more musically, than ever — seemed like the greatest electric guitarist on earth, not because of gymnastic overkill, but sonic poetry through deft handling of aspects and nuances of his instrument (and amp). Another hot guitar night at the Arlington went down last year when Warren Haynes brought his band Gov’t Mule to the venue’s faux villa. The band returns to the Arlington on Sunday, and any admirer of riffy, tasteful, sassy, and bluesy new-rock music should be there. Haynes may still be better known as the guitarist for the Allman Brothers, but his own band is making awesome music in its own stylistic corner: Gov’t Mule’s latest CD, High & Mighty, is astonishingly good and balanced, not just another release as an excuse to tour. Beefy-voiced and nimble-fingered, Haynes writes the kind of riff-based blues-rock songs (with plenty of harmonic twists) you could associate with English bluesy pub-arena rockers of old, like Savoy Brown, Humble Pie, Deep Purple, and Blodwyn Pig, but with more Southern-rooted cred. Haynes plays guitar with controlled might, but recognizes the importance of the song above all. Gov’t Mule is onto something special, and the band’s live shows sizzle, especially in a picturesque venue like the Arlington.

FRESH-SQUEEZED FOLK ART: Accordion aficionados — you know who you are — are in for a treat, and have a good excuse to head down to L.A. The Skirball Cultural Center’s world music concert series focuses on the great, unjustly maligned instrument. The series opened grandly last week with the Los Angeles debut of wondrous Finnish accordionist Maria Kalaniemi and trio. Kalaniemi’s luminous set, by turns contemporary and folkloric, included bolskas, wedding marches, polkas, and a dreamy impressionistic piece suggesting Scandinavian Euro-jazz. Some may know Kalaniemi as a member of the amazing (and international) ensemble, Accordion Tribe, which joins wily virtuosos Guy Klucevsek (U.S.), Otto Lechner (Austria), Bratko Bibicˇ (Slovenia), and Lars Hollmer (Sweden). No self-respecting accordion fan should be without at least one of their three albums. The Skirball’s series includes Cuartetango, with bandoneonist Hector del Curto, on Wednesday, November 1; and a visit by the great Argentine-born Dino Saluzzi early next year.

L.A. LOGBOOK: On the subject of reasons to head south on the 101, this Sunday night at the Ford Amphitheatre we’ll hear a rare double-bill of Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, solo and duet. These veteran free-thinking saxists (and other instruments, to suit the impulses) hail from the Art Ensemble of Chicago: surely one of the greatest, most adventurous, and just plain enjoyable groups in jazz history (no matter what conning neo-cons say). The Art Ensemble has changed with the passing of Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors, but a new incarnation is lively and worth hearing, as on their new release Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City: Live at Iridium (Pi).

BANJOS AND FIDDLES AND LAWNS, OH MY: There’s no pleasure in Santa Barbara — well, Goleta — quite like the Fiddlers’ Convention, which befalls the time-twisting property of the Stow House each October. On the lawns surrounding the vintage house, old-timey music tickles the air for a dense, happy day, both in impromptu jams that gather like clumps of musical molecules, and on official stages. It’s a world of fiddles, banjos, flat-picked guitars, mandolins, and singin’ — all about down-home musical Americana. Pickers are invited to be part of the friendly competition, and the rest of us listeners can bask in the rustic splendor on the lawns, or take a stroll down to Lake Los Carneros and pretend that the area isn’t likely doomed to eventual mini-mallification. The event, taking place all day Sunday, October 8, is 35 years old, making it a rare long-standing Santa Barbara tradition that has sailed through all the changes wrought on the area since 1970. Visit (Got e?

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