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NPR Music

America, The Primitive: 5 New Guitar Records That Would Make John Fahey Proud

Bill Orcutt has reinvigorated and befuddled our ideas about the guitar.
Bill Orcutt has reinvigorated and befuddled our ideas about the guitar.

The American Primitive guitar record is the soundtrack to the open road. It breathes in dust and exhales smoke. Blues, country, rock, psych, drone, folk, ragtime, bluegrass — it encompasses all of them and none at all. But ultimately, it's evocative of a landscape that doesn't know its boundaries. That's why, in particular, 2013 has felt like a 6- and 12-string renaissance that both celebrates and extends this music, especially since the passing of the beloved Jack Rose four years ago.

It's hard to narrow down just five recently released records that exemplify what American Primitive means in 2013. We're barely scraping the dirt floor, especially since the idea has changed over the years. But John Fahey, self-deprecating in the face of founding this music, said it best in some archival footage featured in the lovely new documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death: "I wouldn't worry about calling it anything."

For an extensive list of American Primitive guitar records and reissues released in 2013, click here.

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