Monday, February 9, 2009

Guitar circle at John Eiler's Monday, Feb. 16

This is either a timely reminder or late-breaking news: Mountain State songster and founder of the St. Louis guitar circle Michael Shannon Friedman is coming back to town for two special (and free) engagements: a guitar circle Monday, Feb. 16 (7 p.m. until midnight, at the home of John Eiler on South Grand; hit me up for directions) and a gig Wednesday, Feb. 18 at The Tap Room (8 p.m. until midnight, 21st and Locust) with Rough Shop and Fred Friction.

I'll link you to some of Michael's own recordings, exquisitely produced by Roy Francis Kasten, and I will bootblog some more of his material before he gets back to town, but right now I am talking up and bootblogging the guitar circle.

I've written about it before, but I'd like to reemphasize that the guitar circle's name is misleading and should not drive away creative types who don't play guitar. Michael borrowed the concept from Texas, where it's called a "guitar pool". Here, it came to be called the "guitar circle," and it did retain a strict circularity, though we welcomed all kinds of anybody: fiddlers, drummers, banjoists, cellists, a clogger, poets, a performance artist (or whatever it is that Kelsey does), a koto player, a capella singers, and any number of listeners that didn't feel up to doing anything other than listen that night.

As to circularity: that's the point. We sit in a circle, and we take turns, with the hot spot moving strictly around the circle (and someone keeping track of whose turn it is). It's not a jam session, unless the person whose turn it is encourages someone to play along. Not that we don't like jamming, it's just that those of us who put this thing together with Michael couldn't jam. So it became a listening circle, more than anything, since on a good night you might play four or five times but be in the circle for three or four hours.

About the sitting: bring your own chair, if you can, to John's, if you come on Monday, Feb. 16 (contact me for directions - it's right across the street from Tower Grove Park). John Eiler is short on few things, but chairs is one of them.

Here is a taste of the early guitar circle days, from a set of recordings that Roy made for Michael so he wouldn't forget us.

"Michael Friedman had left St. Louis, returning to Charleston, West Virginia, to care for his father, who was dying," Roy remembers. "When Michael called to say Jack had gone, I wanted to do something for him. So I rang up some of the guitar circle regulars and had them sing some of Michael’s favorite songs by each, as well as a few off-the-cuff numbers."

Free mp3s

"Sunset, Riverboat"
(David Loeb)
David Loeb

"Back to My Senses"
(Adam Reichmann)
Adam Reichmann

Chris King

(Bob Reuter)
Bob Reuter

Purple Heather
Mark Stephens


The image is the cover of the CD Roy made for Michael, with Roy's photography of the songsters.


Katy Kalysta said...

What if you didn't have any guitar talent but just wanted to come to listen?

Confluence City said...

You are more than welcome, Katy.