James Blackshaw on guitar.

Acoustic guitar masterpieces

By Julian Wise - June 15, 2006

James Blackshaw, and Jesse Sparhawk have emerged from the prestigious Berkelee College of Music as eminent up-and-coming talents in the acoustic guitar domain. Their June 21 performance at Aboveground Records in Edgartown will give Island audiences an opportunity to enjoy their extraordinary talents.

The two are touring as representatives of the "Imagination Anthem Volume 2" CD from the Tompkins Square record label. The disc is a collection of 12 premier acoustic guitar pieces by giants in the acoustic music field. Tracks include "Kowaka D'Amour" by the late Robbie Basho, the first live recording by this legendary artist. "Devil's Brew," a home recording by 12-string master Fred Gerlach, is often cited by Jimmy Page as an inspiration for his Led Zeppelin work.

Jesse Sparhawk, a multi-instrumentalist composer specializing in harp, guitar, electric bass, and mandolin, performs "Light Cycle/Tetrahedra." A pair of artists from the Takoma record label, Peter Lang ("Future Shot at the Rainbow") and Billy Faier ("New World Coming") round out the disc.

The notoriously unforgiving critics at Entertainment Weekly gave the disc an A-minus, and Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote, "The history and beauty here speak for themselves, at the perfect volume."

The Imagination Anthem tour runs through June from Brooklyn to San Francisco, with the Vineyard performance sandwiched between shows in Portland, Maine, and Philadelphia. For aficionados of exquisite guitar performances, the Imagination Anthem tour is not to be missed.

James Blackshaw and Jesse Sparhawk perform on June 21 at 7:15 pm, Aboveground Records, Triangle, Edgartown. $5 suggested donation.