Shane Parish received Fireside Book of Folk Songs as a gift. It sat on the shelf for a few months, a proud edition to his sheet music library, with its colorful illustrations and contextualizing prose. Then, one day, he picked it up and began to feel his way through the tunes on guitar—sea shanties, ballads, work songs, hymns—all coming to life in the singular interpretive style that he has been developing for many years.
There is a point, after years of exploration and focus, at which ones craft merges with their personality, and becomes intuitive, effortless, and fluid. Like a casual conversation, or ones natural gait when crossing the floor, the interpretative style is just what is. There is no forced effort.
When Parish released his 2016 album “Undertaker Please Drive Slow” on Tzadik Records, it marked a turn in his output. The technical fireworks of his band Ahleuchatistas, and the deep listening and melancholic vibes of his improvised work, combined with a heightened awareness of kinesthetic feel for his instrument, forged a meditative stream-of-consciousness approach to instrumental song interpretation on guitar. It is an approach that draws from everything, the total field of universal music. After years of trying to play different styles, with vary degrees of success, a definitive personal approach emerged, and the trying subsided, and the music flowed.
This style, or no-style, of playing has only become more free and flowing in the years since Undertaker. So much so that Parish could now comfortably try his hand at a much larger selection of repertoire and trust that the music would flow, a story would be told, and feelings would be felt.
So, he hit record and documented his takes on the 147 songs of Fireside Book of Folk Songs.
"The longer pieces contain silences and pronounced dissonances that suggest a more than passing acquaintance with John Cage’s music for prepared piano, as well as melodic permutations that move as fluidly as Grant Green in a purposeful mood. Parish does not improvise according to any known set of jazz prescriptions, but like Django Reinhardt or Charlie Christian, his improvisations express a strong sense of form" Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine
"I also hear these influences as I listen to Ahleuchatistas: the guitar inventions of Robert Fripp and even progressive rockers Gentle Giant, but also sounds that span the globe with styles that can feel North African or Asian. 'Heads Full of Poison', Ahleuchatistas' new album, is a fabulous sonic journey honed from nearly 100 live performances into studio recordings that were made over a few years." Bob Boilen, NPR Music
"...reminiscent of John Fahey and Robbie Basho, at times of John Cage and Morton Feldman, Shane uses these beautiful songs as launching pads for his creative flights of fancy, at times boiling them down to their very essence. A spiritual project that will keep you riveted from first note to last.” John Zorn
Releases on DLR:
DLR 005 - Way Haul Away (2020)