on Walk Right In
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
1 pm (est)
Before his concert at CFOOT Studio (1108 W. Main St., Charlottesville) with Ned Oldham, Alex Caton and Matty Metcalfe Tuesday, February 7, No Quarter recording artist Nathan Salsburg will stop by Walk Right In for some live music and conversation with host Rebecca Foster. They might even play a cut or two off Nathan's 2011 release, Affirmed.
Nathan Salsburg was born in that Diamond City, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania—she of anthracite glimmer and Babe Ruth's 1926 long ball—and is a longtime resident of Louisville, Kentucky. He is a folklorist and a producer and presenter of traditional music for East Village Radio, the Drag City imprint Twos & Fews, and the Alan Lomax Archive, among other outlets. His first solo record is called Affirmed, and it's about race horses—Affirmed, Bold Ruler, and Eight Belles, specifically—and desire and reckonings of the spirit. It's an almost entirely instrumental affair, save his elegiac rendering of the traditional tune "The False True Love.
I hear it took Salsburg a long time to make Affirmed, and it sounds it. Not because the picking is complicated, which it is—I suspect Nathan will eventually be recognized as among the foremost American acoustic guitarists, for anyone keeping that score—but because there is so much emotion here, so much full-grown, that it must have taken a life, at least.
Affirmed is a personal record—for Salsburg, surely, but for me too. I'm getting older, and my relationship to music now develops vertically rather than horizontally. I need something that has some stake to it, because I'm trying to find the light myself. We used to play for silver; now we play for life. Like that. So I'll damn right sing you every note on Tom T.'s Old Five and Dimers Like Me; but if art's not open—and that's the word I use to describe Affirmed: open—then what good is it to your soul? I'm talking about grown-up things here, things that set the bitch of this whole journey in relief: Barry Hannah's Ray, or Sammi Smith's version of "Saunder's Ferry Lane," or Duke Ellington's "Blue Indigo." I count Affirmed among these.
Put another way: It's easy to write a song in a minor key and play it sad, but so much harder—though truer to life, I reckon—to play blue in a major key. Nathan Salsburg does this with Affirmed. He does it so well. Hats off to him.