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Guitarist John Fahey survived what Utah Phillips called "the great folk music scare" of the 60s to establish himself as a contemporary virtuoso of traditional acoustic guitar. He's probably best known as a blues musician, archivist, and scholar; he was instrumental in the rediscoveries of Bukka White and Skip James, his Takoma Records eventually became a prized collectors' label, and he himself is a walking compendium of southern acoustic blues styles. But Fahey's gifts go beyond studying and reproducing the intricate lines and barrelhouse passion of the great southern bluesmen: he's recorded albums of Christmas instrumentals, railroad songs, and even military waltzes with an unerring combination of adherence to tradition and heat-of-the-moment emotional commitment. Fahey's gruff irreverence saves him from folkie earnestness (his first LP was named after a fictitious Delta bluesman called Blind Joe Death), and his ability to segue from raw Delta percussiveness to tenderly plucked melodic romanticism is as owe inspiring today as it was years ago when he was dubbed the Andres Segovia of Folk. Fahey seldom makes it to Chicago, so this appearance is not to be missed. Saturday, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 478-4408.

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