Bay Area guitarist Chuck Johnson plugs back in on Velvet Arc

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Chuck Johnson - COURTESY OF TROUBLE IN MIND RECORDS
  • courtesy of Trouble in Mind Records
  • Chuck Johnson

Multi-instrumentalist Marielle V Jakobsons, who plays a solo concert Thursday at Cafe Mustache in support of the shimmery, gorgeous new Star Core (Thrill Jockey), was one of two driving forces behind cosmic Bay Area band Date Palms. She's currently on tour with guitarist Chuck Johnson, and she plays violin on a couple tracks from his latest album, Velvet Arc. It's his first electric outing in a decade, and another gem released by Chicago's great Trouble in Mind.

Johnson's growing discography is clearly that of an artist with a voracious curiosity and stylistic appetite. He's experimented with free improvisation and minimalism, and in some ways the new album puts me in mind of Nashville guitarist William Tyler—another probing player who's transformed a keen fingerstyle practice into a kaleidoscopic strain of instrumental band music that encompasses wide swaths of Americana. The first song on Velvet Arc, "As I Stand Counting," has an electric blues vibe, and "Middle Water" uses Cajun strains. For today's 12 O'Clock Track I'm sharing the majestic title cut, which blends Johnson's woozy pedal steel with lovely fiddle by Jakobsons—her lines sound like they're coming from halfway between Nashville and Mars.
Today's playlist:

Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band (RCA)
Dave Bailey Quintet, Two Feet in the Gutter (Epic/Legacy)
Sharon Van Etten, I Don't Want to Let You Down (Jagjaguwar)
S.E. Rogie, The Sounds of S.E. Rogie (Domino Sound/Mississippi)
Benjamin Schmid, Hannu Lintu, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, György Ligeti: Violin Concerto/Lontano/Atmosphères/San Francisco Polyphony (Ondine)

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the actual lineup of Date Palms.



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