Rob Noyes helps carry on today’s golden era of fingerstyle guitar | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Rob Noyes helps carry on today’s golden era of fingerstyle guitar


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These days there seems to be a bottomless well of young guitarists exploring the paths blazed by American Primitive master John Fahey and his adherents, who included Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho, and Peter Walker. Recent reissues of old private-press recordings suggest there were even more folks following Fahey’s lead in the 60s and 70s than listeners might’ve known, but I still think it’s safe to say we’re in the midst of a second golden era of fingerstyle guitar. Nothing in this realm has hit me as hard recently as The Feudal Spirit (Poon Village), a 2016 album by Boston’s Rob Noyes. He rips straight out of the gate with a furious barrage of cross-hatched rhythms and twined melodies on the exuberant “Paydirt,” where his technical proficiency on the 12-string—astonishing as it is—recedes in importance behind the sheer joy and manic propulsion he brings to the music. Though his work is largely free of Fahey’s blues thrust, Noyes weaves a rich stylistic fabric from diverse sources, whether he’s reflecting Basho’s hammering mastery of the 12-string or revealing a more meditative side of his personality that suggests the influence of British heavies such as John Renbourn or Michael Chapman. I can only imagine where he might go from here.   v

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