Modern Primitives: Alexander Turnquist, Cian Nugent, Jesse Sparhawk and Eric Carbonara

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In the 1960s, D.C.-born guitarist John Fahey jump-started the American primitivist musical movement by combining blues and country with modern classical to create a style that influenced scores of forward-thinking musicians. Four decades later, three new releases by Fairfax-based VHF Records show a modern label’s dedication to Fahey-style experimentation.

The late fingerpicker Jack Rose was one of VHF’s stellar artists, and his guitar-playing greatness gets a nod on “Waiting at the Departure Gate,” the centerpiece of Alexander Turnquist’s gorgeous new “Hallway of Mirrors” on VHF. The New York-based 12-string player’s latest is a dive into haunting overtones created by focused sustain and repetition.

Irishman Cian Nugent, above, makes his VHF debut with “Doubles,” featuring two slow-build instrumental masterpieces of epic composition.

And on the new “Sixty Strings,” Philadelphians Jesse Sparhawk (on 38-string lever harp) and Eric Carbonara (on 22-string upright Chaturangui guitar) borrow from
Indian and classical folk to create a new type of music devoted to worshipping the Almighty String.

Written by Express contributor Christopher Porter
Photo courtesy VHF Records

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