Jon Gomm is the first guitarist to astound me in a long time. He clearly started in the path created by Micheal Hedges (an admitted influence) but he developed his own unique style. The way he combines musical notes, percussion sounds and tuning pegs in a musical way stopped me in my tracks.
When you see someone reach such high and personal levels of proficiency and tasteful expression you know they’re passionate individuals who worked really hard to develop their art, and that’s the inspiration right there.
The fact that Jon steers clear of the corporate music world adds another level of appreciation from me. And to top it off he has a great name, both phonetically and orthographically.
In 1975 members of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band formed Mallard, releasing only two albums (“Mallard” and “In A Different Climate”) and never achieving commercial success. It’s a pity, though, because they sound really interesting. One can hear the unmistakable Beefheart mix of odd, angular rhythms and unconventional melodies paired with a commercial edge. Can’t blame these musicians for slightly abandoning the avant-garde of their Magic Band days in favor of a more straightforward version of rock. Still, their two albums contain gems like “Your Face On Someone Else”:
And here’s a live performance of “Reign Of Pain”:
Captain Beefheart maintained that he took these musicians and taught them how to play but it’s clear to me from hearing Mallard that Zoot Horn Rollo (Bill Harkleroad), Rockette Morton (Mark Boston), Ed Marimba (Art Tripp III) and Drumbo (John French) were in fact highly skilled musicians who contributed to the writing of Beefheart’s incredible songs. (The membership of the band changed between the two albums with John French and Art Tripp only contributing to the first one. The video above features the lineup that recorded “In A Different Climate”.)
This band is yet more evidence that the 70′s ruled. I mean: teenagers going to see bands of skilled musicians performing mostly intricate instrumental music and getting off on it.
Now think of what we have today: the music business has made live performances all but disappear and in lieu of them we have summer festivals sponsored by beverages where almost nobody plays live and the kids are getting high on said beverages, all with MTV broadcasting the “event”.
The most celebrated “musicians” since the Eighties have been those (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Lady Gaga etc.) who made their mark not with their music but with their outrageous clothes, sexually appealing dance steps, provocative stage shows and shocking tabloid lifestyle.
If you ask me, they have no musical relevance whatsoever.