Beyman Bros: The Thinking Person's Americana

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The Beyman Bros

The Beyman Bros (from left to right): Christopher Guest, CJ Vanston and David Nichtern. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Actor and filmmaker Christopher Guest is probably best known for his role as lead singer Nigel Tufnel in the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.

But he's always been a serious musician. Now, for the first time in his career, Guest is sharing that side of his personality. He and some longtime friends calling themselves The Beyman Bros have just released their first CD, Memories of Summer as a Child.

Spend a few minutes inside the intricate, placid music of The Beyman Bros, and it's clear that Guest is serious about music. Of course he had to be at least a decent musician to pull off Spinal Tap and the spot-on satires of old folk music in the 2003 parody A Mighty Wind. But the music of The Beyman Bros suggests he's more accomplished than that. Just listen to the way Guest and his longtime collaborator, guitarist David Nichtern, interact: It's as if they're flying in formation.

Guest plays guitar and mandolin, mandolin cello, and even the clarinet. The Beyman Bros' members have been playing together informally for years, mostly in Guest's kitchen. Nichtern says that when they began to work on the new album, they started with simple rhythm-guitar ideas. Once they arrived at an intriguing mood, they'd go off exploring.

Those collaborative journeys led The Beyman Bros to a striking, spacious sound: instrumentals that exude the placid calm of meditation music, but also carry flashes of rock-guitar brilliance, late-night swamp blues and the carefully knit tapestries of bluegrass. It's thinking person's Americana — lovely and low-key and enchanting, and nothing you'd expect from the guy who gave the world guitar amps that go up to 11.

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