Listening to My First Album

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

In honor of its 30th anniversary, my very first recorded album, ACOUSTIC GUITAR, released in 1979, is now available for download.

ACOUSTIC GUITAR contains ten original tunes and was a self-produced and self-financed project. There were only a thousand (vinyl) copies pressed. It has been out of print for decades.

A lot has happened between then and now (including the digital revolution and the invention of the cd)…but listening to it again I have to say, without intending any self-praise, that there is some very good stuff on my first record.

It was reviewed by GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE at the time, calling it “exceptionally fine…composional diversity and guitaristic brilliance”.

I was very into 6 and 12-string fingerpicking back then…and influenced by Leo Kottke, John Fahey, and Jorma Kaukonen…but the album also contains jazz and classical-influenced compositions, as well as the roots of my later percussive sound.

A few facts:

— I recorded the album with two acoustic guitars, a Martin D-28 six-string and a Martin D-28 12-string, at a studio in South Glastonbury (near Hartford), Connecticut.

— Most of the tunes on the album were written while I was living on the corner of Bush and Steiner Streets in San Francisco between 1974 and 1977.

— I had originally intended to make the album a mix of solo and ensemble material. Financial constraints made me change to a solo format. The album does, however, contain a duet with guitarist Jeff Pevar…an up-tempo jazz tune called “It’s Not Just Your Face”.

— Out of the ten tunes on the record, five were named after women…and three of those were named Barbara: one a Barbara, one a Barbara whom I had nick-named “Boo Boo”, and one a Barbara who had changed her name to “Jesse” before I knew her.

— The tune “Bush Street Beehive” was written when I was living on Bush Street in San Francisco. The melodic idea for the second part of the tune was borrowed from a Larry Coryell tune.

— The chromatically ascending bassline in the tune “Kristy” was inspired by Jimi Hendrix.

ACOUSTIC GUITAR marked the beginning of my recording career. It is a snapshot of who I was in 1979 at age twenty-four. It also offers clues to what I was to become as a guitarist and composer. Through the next thirty years and fifteen albums my music and playing have evolved much…but this record still sounds good to me.

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2 Responses to Listening to My First Album

  1. Bil says:

    Preston it soundz GREAT!

    We saw you at SPACE in Evanston, that was great too!

    White Mans Burden & Bush Street Beehive knock me out.

    THANKS for sharing.

  2. John says:

    I’m one of the lucky owners of the original vinyl album, which I imagine I must have purchased after seeing you perform at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA (or was it my imagination?). It sits in my parents’ basement and I listen to it when I’m back in MA as I don’t have a turntable here in San Francisco. Great to stumble across your notes here and ironic you lived on Bush street in SF as I used to live a couple of blocks away at Lyon & Sutter. Glad to see the downloadable version is available too – now I can listen here in SF. I play guitar for fun and my two boys will enjoy hearing your great tunes from the master himself.

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