Andrew York in Quebec – Loom of Desire – International Guitar Night

I’ve had the great fortune over the years of being friends and associates with the very talented Grammy winning guitarist Andrew York, who’s been part of International Guitar Night three times and will join us for our 11th season as well. Andrew’s got an knack for channelling technique into a musical sensibility that can impresses the novice while remaining authentically sublime. His groundbreaking compositions range from epic classics like “Sunburst/Jubilation” to profoundly emotive pieces like “By Candelight” and “Letting Go.”

Andrew and I first met at a double bill series I co-produced in 1994 at the New Conservatory Theatre. We hit it off well and a few years after that I called Andrew to ask if he’d record “Loom of Desire” with me for my solo album, Legacy.  We went down to LA and set up shop to record the piece in his living room. I remember his dog Miles lounging there with us, and also remember having to stop recording a few times because a feral parrot in the palm tree across the street was squawking loudly.  Here’s a version being performed in one of my favorite places, Quebec:

This was a pretty inspiring time in my life. Music, and especially this piece, was playing a transformative role. The duet had come about by following the musical advice of my friend Pierre Bensusan, to sing the line and have the melody rendered reflect the voice. Employing this process really changes perspective on many aspects of guitar composing– how you finger the melody, for example, is quite different when it’s been touched by a voice.

In the case of this piece, and many pieces thereafter, I took the process a step further, and wrote lyrics as well. I gave these lyrics to Andrew in advance, so he had an idea of what was brewing in my mind along with the melody. The end result has had a lasting impression which results in us never tiring of playing the piece together. Here are the lyrics:

Loom of Desire by Brian Gore

(Vs 1)

Who are we to try and walk before we could crawl from the sea

Only human not immortal but cannot see how the presumption sometimes cripples

You and me who must stand before we fall

(Chorus 1)

Though my father breathes inside me he’s salt inside my skin

He’s never been beside me though I love him to the end

And I want so much to hold you but can barely s at all

Through to the strange solace love can heal it all love can heal at all

(Vs 2)

I’m ready feel the love I have inside me stand steady though I tremble at your call

Can’t believe what you feel is not confusion not deceived the same things shape us all

(Chorus 2)

Though my mother breathes inside me it’s like salt on broken skin

Like a loom of pain that binds me to the source where tears begin

And I want so much to hold you But can barely s at all

Through to the strange solace love can heal it all

(Instrumental interlude— Bridge)

We all come from the water hear echoes of the sea

The salt inside our eyes confounds the view

Freedom looms the shoreline it ebbs and lets us fall

It’s the comfort when we falter not the pain that blinds us all

(Vs. 1- End)

It’s very satisfying to have singers performing this with me in double bill shows. Susan Z is performing it here:

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Published in: on 06/16/2009 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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D’Gary–International Guitar Night

As we approach the 10th touring season of International Guitar Night, I find myself getting a bit nostalgic about all the great artists I’ve had the chance to work with as part of the show.  I’ll be using this blog to reminisce a bit about them, as well as our adventures together….

He’s a real trooper, for sure. Imagine, flying from Antananarivo to Victoria BC for one day of rest, then a show. Then, the *next day*, we fly together from Victoria, to Vancouver, to the YUKON, meet an artistic liaison at the airport, then hop in a van for a 6 hour ride to our show…. Oh, but did I mention, we needed to make a pit stop along the way to buy D’Gary some clothes? That’s right… it turns out that D’Gary made it, and his guitar made it…. BUT, his clothes didn’t. And you know, it’s very, very, cold in the Yukon in November…

D'Gary, Freezing in the Yukon!

D'Gary, Freezing in the Yukon!

I first found out about D’Gary from a Shanachie compilation of guitarists from Madagascar that was produced by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley.  For years, I’d dreamed about having him in the show, and finally had the chance to feature him in the International Guitar Night II tour and live CD two years back. Here are a couple of D’Gary’s solo cuts from that album:

D’Gary: “Ligniso Zaho, Please Wait for Me”

D’Gary: “Kelikely Fa Nama; Girlfriend”

I’m not very haiku about much of anything. I sometimes need to hear myself talking to recognize what I’m trying to say. I often obfuscate to the point of headaches with long, dense, convoluted sentences. That’s what you get for studying Philosophy in Germany, I guess.  D’Gary, on the other hand, is much like his music; non-verbal, quiet, yet powerfully emotive.

We Had Elk Meat Stew for Hospitality at this Gig, and This was Our View

We Had Elk Meat Stew for Hospitality at this Gig, and This was Our View

It was a welcome culture shock to keep my mouth shut and just let myself enjoy the silence with him.   Enroute to this show, we paused together on a rest-stop veranda, contemplating the snowy plains. We were quiet like that for a long time. Then, D’Gary finally said, “I want…to move… to the Yukon!” And we both began to laugh. When you’re from perpetually hot and humid Madagascar, the snow and cold in Montana looks pretty appealing. And, if you’re from the Yukon, stuck in the dead of winter, the thought of sunny Madagascar might offer solace on a dreary night.

Despite divergent cultures it seems we all at times want what we *don’t* have… This is something to laugh about, or, cry about, when you for a moment contemplate what people in Madagascar, for example, and other places around the world, *don’t* have. And it was more than once I looked in D’Gary’s eyes to see an anguish I could not wish away, which I surmised stemmed from exactly that.

You can feel a melancholic and even at times angry tinge in both D’Gary and his music. This is a natural reflection of coming up in impoverished circumstances–he apparently spent much of his life playing on borrowed guitars! But he also intimated to me that his songs are a reflection of, and a coming to terms with, the injustices in his country and the pain he’s experienced from that in his life. Like a lot of guitarists I’ve met, music is an outlet that brings meaning to wordless experience and helps with release.  I can empathize with D’Gary because I’ve  also transmuted some of my own pain through music, thankfully.

There’s no way you can make up for the kinds of challenges others may have faced in their life. I’ve learned this the hard way. I spent a lot of my life yearning for someone to do that for me, when all the while I was perfectly capable of doing it for myself!  All you can do, and what I try to do in IGN, is treat the people who are in the show with the reverence they deserve.  From a musical point of view, D’Gary is certainly deserving of  *a lot* of reverence.

D'Gary Endured Losing His Luggage in the Yukon and Returning Home to a Broken Guitar

D'Gary endured losing his luggage in the Yukon and returning home to a broken guitar.. Not sure about what the hippo is doing on top of a luggage carrousel in a Canadian airport, by the way!

D’Gary is a real master; a cultured, sophisticated man. Someone who makes you feel proud to share company with. His tone is EXQUISITE, and it is very hard to tell exactly HOW he gets it, which makes him even more intriguing. His compositions are very sophisticated, even esoteric. His songs hearken to his culture and folk music; rustic, in a way. Yet, his polyphony is quite modern in the way each voice in the solo piece is layered; referencing different instrument types from his homeland in the way he plucks his strings.

On the Way Home, D'Gary's Stonebridge Broke in the Turbulence: Fortunately, It was Eventually Fixed!

On the Way Home, D'Gary's Stonebridge Broke in the Turbulence: Fortunately, It was Eventually Fixed!

I was really proud to be able to help him get a Stonebridge Guitar, which he used on his tour of Canada and the US with us. However, he was laid up by some severe weather on the way home; first in Montana, because of a snow storm, then in Atlanta, because of hurricane season in Madagascar. This whole experience was incredibly exasperating, not just for him, but for our venerable road manager, Richard Rice as well.

After more than a year, D'Gary was able to deposit the broken Stonebridge with Clive Carroll during a layover in London, when it was finally fixed!

After more than a year, D'Gary was able to deposit the broken Stonebridge with Clive Carroll during a layover in London, when it was finally fixed!

D’Gary was finally able to make it back a few days later than planned. But the turbulence snapped his guitar neck! It took more than a year before D’Gary was able to get the neck fixed, with the help of Clive Carroll from London!!

D’Gary and Clive in Duet! We filmed this from the green room at the wonderful Harmon Hall in San Louis Opisbo… Check it out:

D’Gary didn’t have as hard a time making it to rehearsal in New Orleans during our US tour…. But the other guy in this video below, Miguel de la Bastide, DID… that’s a story for another time, though…..

International Guitar Night Live Album Series

Last week, my new friend and producer Wynn Gogol sent the next to final rounds of mixes for our “INTERNATIONAL GUITAR NIGHT LIVE” series recording.  I’m going to give a listen to the material this weekend and will probably provide some audio highlights as a preview here at this blog early next week. Stay tuned if you’re interested. This year, we also have a high quality DVD for the tour that’s being produced by Warmland Studios.

It’s a very cool group we have this year; Django Reinhardt’s great grand nephew Lulo Reinhardt, legendary harp guitarist Stephen Bennett, and a very cool pianist/guitarist from Israel, Itamar Erez....

Check it out:

Hard to believe it, but this is our 10th season as a touring act. We started out as a Bay Area thing more than 15 years ago, working in small venues like Strings and the Freight and Salvage, and California World Music Festival. With the help of the Herschel Freeman Agency, Bert Jansch’s booking agent in the UK, John Barrows, and select sponsors like Stonebridge Guitars and Acoustic Guitar Magazine, we’ve grown into a global thing with up 60 shows each season in very classy venues.

After going round and round for years on what kind of releases to produce with IGN, Herschel and I decided that a one of a kind live album series would be best. But, how to do this? We got the live album concept going with the help of Steve Vai and Favored Nations Records. Peppino D’Agostino, whose solo projects are on Steve’s label, put in a good word for IGN with him. Then, friend and Guitar Night alum Pierre Bensusan put together the opportunity for us to record the first album with them. We recorded each show nightly, with the help of our manager Rich Rice, of the California Brazil Camp, We then selected the best pieces for inclusion on the album It featured Pierre and me along with the Brazilian composer-genius Guinga, and three time Grammy winner Andrew York. It was a great album and a dream come true to play with these guys. Check out these cuts from the Favored Nations release, An Evening with International Guitar Night, Live”:

Pierre Bensusan, Andrew York, Guinga, Brian Gore: “How Should I Know?”

Andrew York: “Moontan”

Pierre Bensusan and Guinga: “Without You”

Andrew York and Brian Gore: “Loom of Desire”

A few years after this album, I called an old friend who worked with Warner, Canada, Mike Peters. Mike and I had known each other for years as friends, but it had never occurred to me to ask him to help with our album series. We had a 25 city tour coming up, and we wanted the album out *before* the tour, so people could buy it at the shows. The line up featured Peppino D’Agostino and Andrew White, and also was the national debut of Antoine DuFour. Antoine was a relatively unknown player at the time who gave me his first CD after a show in Quebec:

We got together in Victoria, rehearsed for two days, and recorded a show which was then released on the second IGN LIVE album. And that process really laid the groundwork for the series. It’s a bit of a trial by fire thing, but never let it be said that solo guitarists aren’t up for a good challenge, right?  So far I’d say we’ve all done a pretty good job with it, too. Since then we’ve released two others. IGN LIVE II with Madagascar guitar legend, D’Gary, Miguel de la Bastide, and Clive Carroll;

And also, IGN LIVE III with Cecilia Zabala, Dale Kavanagh and Andy Sheppard.

Paranoid Android (not on the album!)

I get to accompany on all these albums, which is a pretty good gig indeed. Stage right has been my front row seat to some of the best guitar music on the planet, which is a consistently humbling and inspiring thing!

Rehearsing with Chiara Angelicoa

ChiaraYesterday, the singer-songwriter Chiara Angelicoa came by to rehearse for our July 25 show in Noe Valley (info will be posted soon at this link, drop me a line at if you want info in the meantime).  I have to say I was really impressed both with Chiara’s artistry and her on the fly studiousness.  She’s got a very unique voice with a peaty ambiance that reminds me of a rare single malt; something with a maturity that belies her age.

I discovered Chiara by happenstance while looking for guest vocalists to be part of my “guitar and voice” double bill series. We pulled up her Myspace site and the piece “Come On” took over the auditory backdrop while we were eating breakfast. My wife Maria and I loved her sound right away.

Chiara makes a good first impression. Her diminutive and understated countenance is at odds with her forlorn, stylized voice. But as you spend more time with her, you begin to understand this gal is accomplished musically and very determined to make a go of things. We have some things in common, including an interest in Psychology, and the same alma matar, UCSC. We also have that all important “eclectic musical tastes thing” in common that make for good chemistry on a collaborative level.

When she came over for practice, I was very surprised at how quickly things came together. I felt it might be good particularly for this piece:

Flame Flower, by Brian Gore

Do you want someone to hold you

Even when you cry?

Do you want someone to guide you

When your passion blurs your sight

The love that can transpire

Even when we cry

Transfigures all desire

So its flames blot out the light

The memory of what we had

Appears still quite ideal

The smoke upon the hills have cast

A shadow on what’s real (chorus)

We shared a smoldering flower

Whose flames light up the night

The pattern in the cinders

The memory of your eyes

Combustible power

Re-meet and reignight

How can we catch a fire

If you can’t love your own light (chorus)

I was very excited to hear how she would bring a gritty, bluesy sense to this piece; for sure, she didn’t disappoint. I was also surprised at how quickly that came together. We also came up with renditions of her piece Masquerade and Momentum.

There’s an edginess  in our rendition of these pieces which I have been yearning for; they are psycho-surrealistic in tonality, if you will.  The pieces are rendered in a style close to Nick Drake and Bert Jansch guitar wise, but with a bit of the modern troubadour tinge you might find in acts like Jose Gonzales or Iron and Wine.

It looks to be a pretty intense collaborative set all the way around, and I am thankful for that. I’m often pigeon holed as a pristine player; and that’s only partially true, especially where songwriting and lyrics are concerned. Working with Chiara gives me the chance to play pieces that you wouldn’t hear in International Guitar Night. To add a little levity to the program, we are also working up a very funny piece I wrote with my friend Curt Haworth called Instant Love.

I’ll be posting video clips from some of our collaborative pieces in my next dispatch about Chiara!

Acoustic Vortex

Part 2: The Acoustic Vortex Gig

Now, onto the Acoustic Vortex gig itself. I’d heard of this gig through an old friend, guitarist Teja Gerken. I saw he’d played there with Vicki Genfan.  I had some pretty nice emails from the Head “Vortician,” as he’s called, Bruce Victor. Bruce came across immediately as a bit of a gentlemanly angel. It turned out he’d seen me once with Pierre Bensusan at an International Guitar Night. His son is a very artistic guy, who’d been “raised on Renbourn and Hedges,” he explained. And they were both die hard fans of Bensusan of course.

So anyway, I came early, and I’m glad I did. I was able to talk a bit with him and see his son play a bit. And also, my publishing client Michael Krasny came by to chat a bit, but didn’t stay for the show. This guy’s house is absolutely awesome. It’s on an inlet with a fantastic view of the inlet waters and also Mount Tam.  I was sitting stage right and got to listen to Susan sing while I watched the sunset over the mountains! Pretty damm cool! Bruce has a pretty cool and dedicated scene he’s creating. One of the volunteers, Nusi, keeps a blog about the shows she attends on Myspace. 

The show went well, and thanks to Nusi for the vids. We also got to hang out a bit after the show. It turned out I had stupidly forgotten to include two songs– they just happened to be Susan’s– in the program. So we played those over a bit of wine with the guys and– one very cool friend of Susan’s– after the show. Susan’s friend is named Sally Steele. She’s a wedding planner, apparently, but with a name like that she should definitely consider writing harlequin novels! She’s extremely funny and dramatic, so I imagine she’d be quite good at that…. Thanks for the photos…

 Vortex show 2vortex show1

Published in: on 06/11/2009 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Brian Gore and Susan Z


Brian Gore here, instrumental guitarist, lyricist, and producer of International Guitar Night. I’ve got a number of projects I’m working on I’ll post tidbits about here:

(1) Guitar and Poetry: Last year I did a couple of shows Jenna Mammina. It went over pretty well. So this year, I’ve sought out a range of vocalists to work with in intimate shows and house concert settings. I’ve been doing a short set of solo guitar in these concerts followed with an interactive program that features my lyric pieces along with the works of my guest vocalist. These shows are intended to be one of a kind and are by nature unique experiences. Every vocal style is different, and there will also naturally be a different range of pieces we’ll be featuring in the program as well. So it’s a very exciting and challenging prospect.

I’ve just completed a show with SUSAN Z


and have one coming up with Chiara Angelicoa

And, I just now got off the phone with a really outstanding vocalist I hope to do some shows with as well, 

Vanessa Schilling

(2) I am writing an surrealist/absurdist novella, The Blooming in Plastique Land: A Tapestography of Herman Neudig.  From time to time, I may write about that experience here.

(3) International Guitar Night tour preparations. I’ll be writing a bit about the preparations involved in IGN

Published in: on 06/10/2009 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment