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David Wilcox photos by Michael Wilson


I was fortunate to catch a DW show recently, at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. It was epic, must have lasted two and a half hours. He's so impressive, his guitar mastery, smooth vocals, thoughtful and heartfelt songs. He's not someone I can listen to all the time, but when I long to hear that thing he does, there is absolutely no one on this planet who does it better than he does.

Take his guitar playing by itself. He goes through a dozen tunings in a show, seamlessly, and always, always in tune. And he's talking to the audience the whole time, always working on that connection, that message, that experience of the evening at hand. Multiple capos, that mystery product we won't name in the rack (with the cover on!) at his feet that generates a tone an octave lower than his lowest string, the hi-fi subsonic factor. His gear and tone, so together, so impeccably devised and sound checked, night after night. Another thing that places him on the shoulders of all the pretenders to his throne, those who shamelessly or obliviously imitate his melodies and rhythms, is that he knows more chords in all those tunings than anyone ever did. He never plays in regular tuning, but has a vocabulary of jazzy and orchestral chords at his fingertips. We've only heard the likes of that altered tuning chordal magic from Pierre Bensusan, and he plays mostly in DADGAD tuning.

Wilcox has, in recent years, found a helluva henchman in Cincinnati's Rick Hordinski. Aside from being a producer who can "bring the songs up from the mystery like cool water from a deep well," he also played electric guitar, lap steel, octave and 12 string guitar, percussion, bass, loops and treatments (love to know what that means). One of the most gifted guitarists of our time, Phil Keaggy, plays bass.

Pierce Pettis co-wrote a couple of the tunes, and Tom Prasada-Rao and Maia Sharp one apiece. We don't need to go through the tunes, because for Wilcox fans, it's simply enough that there's a new record. Be sure to check out the clips of the man on the Listen page. And by all means, do not miss him when comes to play your town, it's a real experience.  • FG

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