The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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An Evening of 21st Century Guitar

8pm Doors / 8:30 Sound
$15 General / Free for members
Reserve seats here

This program explores an iconoclastic strain of Americana that merges experimentalism with folk forms – a style often connected to John Fahey's Takoma Records catalog of the 1960s and 70s – and the artists who are expanding and challenging the boundaries solo guitar-based practice in their own way.

Bill Orcutt is usually recognized as the co-founder of the band Harry Pussy. Formed in 1991 and featuring Orcutt on 4-string guitar—a practice carried over, developed, and refined from circumstantial adolescent experiments in working around absent strings. Twenty years later, Bill Orcutt still only plays four strings, but now they are attached to a vintage acoustic Kay that has withstood enough damage and repair that it requires custom tuning to stay in one piece. Sometimes clanging and ominous, other times mournful and slight, strangely alienating, but simultaneously vulnerable and cathartic, his music is compared with equal frequency to avant-garde composers and rural bluesman.

Chuck Johnson is a musician and composer who approaches his work with an ear towards finding faults and instabilities that might reveal latent beauty, with a focus on guitar, experimental electronics, and Kosmische Americana. Recordings of his work have been published by Three Lobed, Merge, Trouble in Mind, Strange Attractors Audio House, Communion, and Amish, among others. Between 2011 and 2015 Johnson released a triptych of solo acoustic guitar LP's - "A Struggle Not A Thought," "Crows in the Basilica," and "Blood Moon Boulder" that have become touchstones of the post-Takoma era. His music has been acclaimed for a compositional style rooted in both a haunting melodic sensibility and a minimalist penchant for pure sonics. In early 2017 he will release a new LP of ambient works for pedal steel guitar and electronics for VDSQ.

Itasca is a band based in Los Angeles, CA, originally created as an alias for folk guitarist and songwriter Kayla Cohen, and now touring and recording as a full band, with various Los Angeles-based players, currently pedal steel player Dave McPeters, drummer Coleman Guyon, and bassist and vocalist Julia Nowak. Cohen was raised in New York State, and has released several cassettes, CDs, and one LP over the past half-decade following a relocation west to LA in 2011. In this same time period, Cohen has toured the country as Itasca several times in various guises, alternately as a solo guitar player, and continuing the folk tradition by traveling as a singer and songwriter. She follows in the footsteps of iconoclasts such as Michael Chapman and Bridget St. John, while simultaneously carrying the mythology of the modern American West in her musical style and iconography. A new LP featuring Cohen and her collaborators is due in the fall of 2016. Over the past few years Itasca has toured and shared bills with many acts including Spires that in the Sunset Rise, Bitchin’ Bajas, Daniel Bachman, Circuit des Yeux, and Valet.

Sarah Louise is a 12-string guitarist based in the mountains of North Carolina. The impulse for a new composition comes frequently from observing the sounds and movements of the woods around her home. Lush and ethereal at times, yet embracing dissonance as well as tonal and time-signature shifts, her music often encompasses a full spectrum of emotions within one piece. All-original tunings, picking patterns and bold transitions mark her as a unique player. Scissor Tail Editions released her first album, “Field Guide,” in early 2015, which quickly became an underground favorite. Her brand new album, VDSQ Volume 12, is already garnering praise from media outlets like NPR and artists such as Ben Chasny, who calls Volume 12 an album “that makes me love the sound and possibilities of the acoustic guitar.”