The Exotic Sound Of Steve Tibbetts

Steve Tibbetts; credit: Daniel Corrigan/ECM Records i

Steve Tibbetts, with his 6-string guitar. Daniel Corrigan/ECM Records hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Corrigan/ECM Records
Steve Tibbetts; credit: Daniel Corrigan/ECM Records

Steve Tibbetts, with his 6-string guitar.

Daniel Corrigan/ECM Records

Natural Causes, the new album from guitarist Steve Tibbetts, features his longtime collaborator Marc Anderson on gongs, steel drums and exotic percussion. For his part, Tibbetts plays a 12-string Martin guitar — the model played by Arlo Guthrie, Roger McGuinn, Paul Simon and Leo Kottke.

When Tibbetts plays, he creates an exotic sound that conjures images of India. He tells Liane Hansen he went to a concert in St. Paul, Minn., by Indian performer Sultan Khan that had a huge impact on his music. Khan plays a sarangi, a stringed instrument common in Indian classical music.

"His concert was really astounding," says Tibbetts, who praises "the way he bent notes and the way the colors came off the instrument."

Tibbetts says he was nervous about being his own producer and that he wanted to focus on finding a sparer acoustic sound.

"These days, it seems like music tries to cram as much sound in as loud as possible for as long a period of time," Tibbetts says, "and it can be a little bit wearing sometimes."

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