Chris Brokaw Sneaks Into Chicago for a Free Sunday Set | Bleader

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chris Brokaw Sneaks Into Chicago for a Free Sunday Set

Posted By on 01.21.11 at 01:57 PM

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Chris Brokaw
  • Chris Brokaw
Chris Brokaw is one of the most versatile guitarists in underground rock. Most notably he was a member of both Codeine (where he played drums) and Come (which has been playing reunion gigs lately and has an April 16 show in New York with Eleventh Dream Day), but he's also played in lesser-known acts like Pullman, the New Year, and Consonant, and his list of credits as a sideman would fill more space that I feel like using. He's one of rock's most thoughtful and selfless musicians, a guy who improves every band he's in but never angles for the spotlight. And over the years he's expanded his scope, writing quiet singer-songwriter material and pensive, cinematic instrumentals.

Last year Brokaw made a terrific instrumental acoustic record for Vin du Select Qualitite, a burgeoning vinyl-only label focusing on solo guitar music that's also issued records by Mark McGuire of Emeralds and Joshua Blatchley of Mountain Home. VDSQ Volume 3, as it's titled, opens with the brief "God's Forgotten Rooster," a sort of false start that suggests we're in for an album of Brokaw's frantic interpretations of John Fahey fingerstyle. The disc moves on to cover a wide range of approaches, most favoring broader strokes rather than intricate fingerpicking. Some tunes have use hard strumming to generate rocklike propulsion beneath succinct flashes of melodic filigree, others tap into the rolling arpeggios of British folk music, and still others use a kind of ambient soundscaping approach.

Brokaw is currently driving across the country and at the last minute decided to play a handful of low-key shows along the way, including one this Sunday at 6:30 PM at the Milwaukee Avenue location of Reckless Records. Also performing is Matthew Mullane, a recent transplant to Chicago from Cleveland, who's got his own VDSQ album due later this year. The only extensive piece of music I've heard by him is the gripping, abstract, seemingly improvised "Double Negative," which merges electronics, clarinets, guitar, and some other stuff I can't positively ID; it's billed to his Non Group project, and you can download it for free at the Homophoni website.

Steve Lowenthal, who runs VDSQ, made recently made a mix tape that includes acoustic guitar pieces from Brokaw and Mullane (as well as Jack Rose, Sir Richard Bishop, and Glenn Jones), and it's downloadable from +|+ website.

Today's playlist:

Reverend Charlie Jackson, God's Got It (CaseQuarter)
Anne-Sophie Mutter & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berg: Violinkonzer; Rihm, Gesungene Zeit (Deutsche Grammophon)
Miguel Angel, Samba Na Onda (Whatmusic)
Arve Henriksen and Elling Vanberg, Ellivan (NORCD)
Luc Ferrari, Chantal (Ohm Editions)

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