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52 Guitars: Week 45

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Just a country boy and his dobro:


I didn't have in mind to venture away from standard guitar in this series. The other night I was watching the 2004 Crossroads concert, a guitar festival organized by Eric Clapton to benefit a drug treatment center he founded. It's two DVDs, four hours, of mostly blues and rock guitar, and I certainly recommend it to guitar aficionados, or anyone who likes that kind of music. The performance above came as a complete surprise to me. I had seen some brief mention, years ago, of an amazing Indian musician who had taken the American steel guitar (of which the dobro is a variety) and adapted it for Indian music, but this was the first time I'd heard him. I decided immediately that he would be this week's musician.

I included the Crossroads performance first here, because I have a feeling a lot of people won't care for this kind of music, and it's shorter than the next one, "Meeting By the River," from an album of the same name in which Bhatt collaborated with Ry Cooder. But I think this one is better.  So if you did like the first one, settle down--it's fourteen minutes long--and listen closely.


Now I want to dig out my old Ravi Shankar LPs. The vogue for Indian music came and went in the 1960s, and I suppose an association with a very dated sort of hippiness may still cling to it. But that's very unfair to the music, which was beautiful then and is now.


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