"Celtic Guitar Summit, Groovemasters Vol. 9"

Solid Air

Five of the tunes on the new album from Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock were composed by Turlough O'Carolan, the blind Irish harper who lived from 1670 to 1737.. The sound of his Celtic harp is approximated in these acoustic guitar duets, though the two additional hands involved allow for crisper articulation and better control of dynamics. The results shed new light on O'Carolan's enchanting melodies and on the long history of Celtic music they inspired.

Bullock, a D.C. native now living in France, is a founding member of the folk trio Helicon and an alumnus of Greenfire and the John Whelan Band. Baughman, based in the Bay Area, is best known for his instructional books and videos that espouse new tunings and techniques for Celtic guitar. They met at a guitar camp in the North Carolina mountains in 2000, an accidental encounter that grew into hours of picking and years of friendship. That relationship has finally been documented on this album with the clarifying help of Takoma Park producer-engineer Al Petteway.

Though Baughman and Bullock obviously arranged the precise harmonies on these instrumental pieces -- five by O'Carolan, one original from each guitarist and seven traditional numbers from Wales, Brittany and Ireland -- their playing is so relaxed that you don't even notice the work that went into them.

-- Geoffrey Himes

Appearing Monday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring. (Bullock also appears Thursday at BlackRock Center for the Arts with Michel Sikiotakis.) * To hear a free Sound Bite from Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)