Health & Beauty, Peter Walker | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Health & Beauty, Peter Walker 

When: Fri., Oct. 3, 9:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $10
A guitarist of unbridled curiosity and technique, Peter Walker seemed like he was prepping himself for a busy second act when he returned to the studio and stage in the mid-aughts after nearly four decades of silence. In 2006 guitarists like Thurston Moore, Jack Rose, and Greg Davis saluted him on A Raga for Peter Walker (Tompkins Square)—though his own four pieces on the compilation were the highlights—and in 2008 he dropped Echo of My Soul, a solo effort on the same label that showcased his deep love and facility for flamenco music, filtered through his own distinctive strain of American primitive guitar. Walker, who’s now 76, has been absorbing the tradition for decades, spending extended periods in Spain and learning from master practitioners. His hybrid is ravishing in its melodic rusticity and rhythmic fire. Another solo album in a similar vein, Spanish Guitar (Birdman), came in 2009, followed by a few more years of silence. Then a previously unissued 1970 session surfaced in 2013 under the name Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms? (Delmore Recording Society). The last, a collection of rugged originals, reflects on Walker’s significant investment in the antiwar movements of the 60s, and demonstrates why he otherwise kept his music instrumental: his vocals on it sound like someone reciting mathematic equations rather than singing melodies. Earlier this year Walker’s second studio album, Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies Are Important, released by Vanguard in 1968, was reissued by Light in the Attic, giving new life to its striking fusion of Indian classical music with American fingerstyle techniques. Walker’s marriage of traditions was exceptionally original and thoughtful for the time, and he does make mention in the Delmore reissue’s liner notes of his plans for further recordings. But until that happens, it sure is great to have him back onstage. —Peter Margasak



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