Sunday, September 03, 2017

9.2.2017, Fort Worth

Your left hand is what you know, your right hand is who you are.

Whoever handles social media for Martin Guitars posted those words on Facebook yesterday, and I had them on my mind when I walked down the street to see my friend and fellow Lawn Guyland expat Darrin Kobetich doing "something different" at the Grackle Gallery, where Kavin Allenson has been booking an eclectic mix of experimental, improvisational, and non-traditional musics under the "Grackle Live" rubric.

Da Kobe usually performs as a solo act playing original acoustic guitar instrumentals, but his trick bag also includes electric guitar, dobro, mandolin, oud, and cumbus. He plays bluegrass with the Boxcar Bandits and Blackland River Devils, improv-funk-jazz-world music with Eddie Dunlap's Rage-Out Arkestra, rock with Groom Lake Racers and his Weatherford High School bud Jeff Satterly, and has provided music for some Hip Pocket Theatre productions. Most recently, Darrin has been involved in a studio-only improv project, Bisagre, with bassist Jimi Sly, drummer Jeffrey Williams, and producer Tony Sims. A busy guy.

On this particular night at the Grackle, his arsenal of axes is limited to his oud, his Fender Stratocaster, and a Martin 12-string equipped by luthier extraordinaire Mitchell Cigainero with a second, movable bridge (inspired by one used by guitarist Kaki King) that allows Darrin to fret or pick on either side. With the second bridge in place, Darrin is able to get sitar-like sounds, bending strings by pressing down, or play the instrument with hammers like a dulcimer.

He also employs a looper pedal to stack percussive effects he achieves by striking his instruments, drones (he uses a violin bow on his guitars a la Jimmy Page), and other sounds to create an orchestral backing over which to improvise his signature long, flowing melodic lines. His music has always had an Eastern European flavor (Da Kobe digs tritones), and his right hand attack is highly riddimic even without the slapping and tapping. It's a modern approach that sounds like it could be ancient. Towards the end of his second set, Darrin even threw in a little Dick Dale and a taste of Fiddler On the Roof as teasers. Kavin was recording audio and video, so hopefully documentation will be available soon.


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