I'm always interested by how records begin, and that's my new favorite start. It's like a movie, you have to be given a character you care about, or it's not going to work. And to what this character says, and especially how he says it, I'm listening.
And when the solo begins, the notes appear in this blues bubble, like something trying to get out. And the bubbles just float out of the speakers into the room and become part of the atmosphere, and his ambience becomes your ambience, subtly.
Bo Ramsey is one of those archetypal guitar players, like Carlos Santana, Merle Travis, or Daniel Lanois. What he does is very recognizable, very essential, and very emotional. His playing is very song-driven, both from a reverential point of view about the music that has meant a lot to him, and from a career that has often been based on accompanying some of the greatest songwriters of our time, among them Greg Brown, Lucinda Williams, and more recently, Pieta Brown.
His latest project is a tribute to the pantheon of blues greats that have been a lifelong inspiration, and a marker back to a treasury of work that he reminds us not to forget or turn our backs on. It's recorded in Minneapolis with people he's worked with all his life, and with Pieta Brown co-producing.
From a musical or guitaristic point of view, when it comes to touch playing, to tonal aesthetic or especially to note selection, Bo Ramsey is certainly among the greatest players today from the less is more school. When you hear him live, it's easy to see he is living inside whatever song he is playing at the moment.
We invite you to look at some video of Bo playing with Pieta Brown at the last SXSW in Austin--although the club lighting that evening made Bo at best into a rather ghostly figure. The clips (here, #3 and #4 on the page) give you a good idea about the ambience he's capable of generating, especially in concert with Pieta, who weaves a mighty web herself. He is a true gentleman of the guitar, a preserver of the real blues, and an artist whose recordings belong in your collection.