"Do you know of any good liquor stores in town? Or, better yet, record stores?" Steve Gunn asks me after playing a mesmerizing set at the NPR Music offices. He's a record collector with insatiable taste and a vinyl-packed apartment. His ears perk up when I tell him that Future Times co-owner Andrew Field-Pickering (a.k.a. Maxillion Dunbar) stocks the electronic jams at Joe's Record Paradise, and that Red Onion Records is never without a stellar jazz and folk section. Maybe bits and pieces of those sounds hit the guitarist's music, but his work mostly stems from a bushy, overgrown definition of what we often call "Americana," with a healthy understanding of the La Monte Young drone.
Grateful Dead and J.J. Cale certainly reside in the rubber-band bounce of "Old Strange," a song that keeps the groove mellow, but will suddenly pop with water-drop elasticity. "The Lurker" comes from a much longer solo guitar version that originally sounded like one of Roy Harper's acoustic epics, but with Gunn's trio, it becomes a back-porch barn-burner. Both songs appear on Gunn's latest album, Time Off — a perfect record for goofing off, taking it easy, or whatever lazy tendencies summer tends to inspire. Mostly, though, it just inspires you to take time and listen.
- "Old Strange"
- "The Lurker"
Producers: Denise DeBelius, Lars Gotrich; Editor: Parker Miles Blohm; Audio Engineer: Chad Miller; Videographers: Parker Miles Blohm, Becky Lettenberger, Maggie Starbard; photo by Erica Yoon/NPR