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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fred Gerlach

... you know: Music often lives of word-of-mouth and tales and legends... also some artist sort-of "shines" of moon-like reflected light, after being associated to this or that musician.

It happened several times - i.e. Folk Baroque, Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn... American Primitive - John Fahey, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke... 12 strings geniuses - Leo Kottke (again), Robbie Basho and... Fred Gerlach.

Now, twelve strings guitar, as per Robbie Basho's dream, truly represents a genuine, indigenous instrument to U.S. of A., also if it possibly arrived to American shores via Italian, Mexican and Portugueses immigrants.

Huddie Ledbetter aka Leadbelly, Rev. Gary Davis, Pete Seeger and... Fred Gerlach were, before Kottke and Basho, the first guitar players to spread the verb and the amazing, superbly rich, gorgeous sound, so rich of overtones of "the mighty, roaring twelve strings acoustic guitar", which captured thousands youngsters... a wave which didn't stop to these days, yet.

I had the chance to know of Fred Gerlach, through his seminal "Song my Mother Never Sang" on Fahey's Takoma and found it less interesting, too much traditional if compared to Peter Lang weird 12 strings solos or Kottke's best or - WOWOWWOW - Basho's masterpieces and style... BUT, nonetheless, Fred Gerlach, like Dick Rosmini's best twelve strings solos, was a fantastic player, deeply rooted in tradition, but still able to surprise a young seeker of musical uniqueness, like I was (and still are...), looking for the VERY best.

His Takoma's effort - which I later loved, after listening and re-listening to it in the eyars - was produced after choosing among 400+ hours (!!!!!!!) of playing and open-reel spinning under John Fahey's supervision...

I found his Folkway's twelve strings folk and blues disc later on, and still I appreciated it a lot, maybe more than Takoma's.

Fred has been an honest, passionate scholar of American root music and a lighthouse for anyone who met him in person or through His music and discs

A quiet, humble man, he passed away on Dec. 31st, 2009 in San Diego, after a life of music, played and as a luthier of superb acoustic guitars (read the amusing short story by Steffen Junghans-Basho on a link I posted here below).

An obituary
and and more tributes

... and - sadly - another father of "our" music has gone, folks...

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