BOB KILGORE
Time And Again
(Weaseltrap Records)

 

Guitarist Bob Kilgore brings his music to its highest level yet on his 2016 CD Time And Again. The 13 track album is essential for fans of instrumental acoustic-based guitar music as well as New Age music, especially as the music on Time And Again is quite meditative and peaceful sounding. Playing his Martin D16M guitar, Bob gets support from his keyboardist brother, Bear and the CD also features orchestral strings by cellist Sarah Dean. The CD packaging also lists the various tunings Bob uses on his guitars and the album is also a showcase for Bob’s own Harmonic Capo, which helps him get some appealing harmonic string sounds on his Martin guitar. Kilgore’s 2016 notes regarding the making of the CD are revelatory with the guitarist adding, ‘I worked on it for over four years, discarding it twice entirely before I was completely satisfied with the compositions and with my performances of them. I am immensely proud to offer it to anyone who cares to give it a listen.’ If you go to Bob’s website you can see all his many fine albums released to date on his Weaseltrap Records imprint. Music fans into deeply inspiring, acoustic guitar-based New Age instrumentals are well advised to track down and give a good listen to the music of Bob Kilgore. www.weaseltrap.com

 


 


mwe3.com presents an interview with
BOB KILGORE

mwe3
: Can you tell the readers where you’re from originally and where you live now in South Carolina and what you like best about it?

Bob Kilgore: I was born and raised near Baltimore and moved to Greenwood, South Carolina in 1999. I came here to get married! My wife Marf has been the best thing in my life ever since.

mwe3: What is your musical background and when did you start developing an interest in music? Did you grow up in the 1960s or ‘70s? When did you start playing guitar and can you remember your first guitars and some of the guitarists and other musicians that inspired you to become a recording artist?

Bob Kilgore: I was the youngest of seven kids and we all played music. There was always music in our house growing up. My first guitar was a nylon string, classical style guitar – a very cheap one, I’m sure. I was mainly interested in classical music early on, but at age 13, I went to a concert that forever changed my life. It was 1974 and I saw the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with John McLaughlin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Narada Michael Walden, Gayle Moran and Ralph Armstrong. John McLaughlin was the first and greatest influence on me musically. Every time you hear me playing alternating odd time signatures, that’s John talking.

After that first exposure in ’74, I listened to every European fusion band I could find. I was never much interested in pop music. One of my favorite albums from the 70’s was Pekka Pohjola’s Mathematician’s Air Display also known as Keesojen Lehto in Finland, with Pierre Moerlen on drums and Mike Oldfield on guitars and Sally Oldfield doing vocals.

In the 1980’s I discovered the music of Michael Hedges and Steve Reich who were also great influences on my compositions and in the case of Michael Hedges, on my playing techniques. Both of these composers redefined what was possible for me.

mwe3: How many solo albums have you released so far and how do you feel that your latest release, Time And Again is a progression in your musical career? Is there a way to chronicle your musical evolution as a composer and player and how Time And Again represents your best release yet?

Bob Kilgore: Time and Again is my 5th CD. I’ve never actually analyzed my compositions with an eye for spotting evolution. I suppose it’s there, but maybe that’s for others to comment on. I’ve always just composed what I felt and recorded it as faithfully as I knew how.

There has certainly been an evolution in the quality of my recordings, and in that sense, I think Time and Again is definitely my best work. I confess to being a bit of an audiophile. It probably annoys radio producers that I don’t use much compression on my CDs, but radio-ready volume comes at a price, and most of the time, it’s just not worth it to me. In today’s world of low-fi music distribution and even lower-fi playback technology, I’m probably wasting my time trying to perfect the audio, but I just can’t help myself.

mwe3: Why do you call your new CD Time And Again? Was there a time when you considered stopping playing the guitar and what brought you back into recording again? How would you compare your early music from the late 1980s with the music you recorded when you started recording again in 2009?

Bob Kilgore: You must’ve been reading some old liner notes! Yeah, I have a history of putting my guitar down for years at a time. There were some long stretches when I didn’t play at all. My longest “down time” was between 1991 and 2003. All my recordings before that were made on analog tape. My brother Bear and I had a home studio, built around a Tascam 38 and a Tascam 32. Those early recordings were severely limited by what you could do with those decks, so "spartan" mixes were a necessity, not a choice.

I started playing again in 2003, but it was a long time after that before I made any new recordings. I put together a new home studio, built around an Akai DPS24 Digital Workstation. That machine allowed me much greater flexibility than I ever had with the Tascam gear. Although it wasn’t analog, it was the best sounding digital recorder I’d ever heard. I used it to remaster all my old analog tapes, and in 2009, I released two CDs worth of material gleaned from those early recordings. At the same time, I released a third CD of all new recordings called, Back In The Day.

Now, getting back to your original question, the opening track of Back In The Day is called “Van Winkle’s Dream”, which was meant to symbolize my long absence from the recording studio. If you play that tune and then follow it with the title track from Time and Again, you’ll notice that the first dozen notes of both tunes are the same. “Van Winkle’s Dream” wasn’t finished with me. After a few years, it wanted another go, hence the title Time And Again.

mwe3: Tell us about working with Bear on your albums and what can you say about Bear’s 2010 solo album, which was also released on your Weaseltrap Records label. I know you and Bear are brothers. It’s no wonder there’s such a musical telepathy on your albums with Bear. Also, how long have you been working with Sarah Dean, who plays cello on your albums?

Bob Kilgore: Bear’s got a brand new album! We just released After a Pause on May 1st, 2016. Bear and I definitely think alike musically, but we could hardly be more different in terms of how we compose. I am a total hack at composition compared to Bear. Time and Again took me four years to put together. Four years. Bear composed and recorded After a Pause in three days. His previous album, Untroubled was also improvised in the studio in just a few days. Bear can play anything he can hear, effortlessly. Yes, I am jealous!

Sarah Dean has been helping us out with cello and violin tracks since Back in the Day. She is a very popular music teacher here in Greenwood, and I’m very grateful that she has been able to find the time to join in our fun.

mwe3: Tell us about your Martin D16M guitar that you recorded Time And Again with. How long have you been playing and recording with that guitar and what else can you tell us about that guitar? How does the D16M compare with other Martins as well as other guitars you have or have played before or after? When it comes to guitars are you somewhat of a gearhead?

Bob Kilgore: Me, a gearhead? No. Far from it. My D16M is a 1990 model. I’ve played it exclusively on the last two albums. I’ve never owned more than four guitars at a time and I’m down to two at the moment. I know, it’s a mental deficiency, no doubt, but there it is.

I’ve always liked this D16M because it has a great rich bass tone while still being very lively for high harmonics. This guitar tolerates being tuned down to a low A, which I use a lot.

My Martin has held up well for the most part, but during that long “down time” episode, the top and back cracked in the case. C.F. Martin was great about it, though. They repaired the cracks for free. I had it re-fretted at the same time. I remember the luthier got annoyed at me for being picky about the action up at the 20th fret. He said something like, ‘Oh, come on. How much of the neck do you really use?’ I usually tell that story just before performing a tune called “Traveler’s Tale”. My response to the luthier was, “I use ALL of it.”

mwe3: When did you come up with the idea of the Harmonic Capo?

Bob Kilgore: I invented the Harmonic Capo way back in 1981, quite by accident. At the time, I was practicing fast flat picking and not having much luck with it. I was trying to do fast scales high on the neck, but I kept screwing up and accidentally playing the open strings. To alleviate that, I stretched a rubber band over the headstock of the guitar and let it close over the strings right against the nut. Of course, that didn’t make me stop screwing up, but it did make the mistakes quieter.

So, I was practicing like that for a long time and I got more and more frustrated. At one point, I was so mad I grabbed the rubber band and pulled it all the way up the neck and strummed the strings in disgust. To my surprise, I heard some harmonics ringing out. Completely by accident, the rubber band was resting over the 12th fret. The two outer strings were muted by the rubber band, but the four in the center were ringing as harmonics. An hour later, I had made my first Harmonic Capo out of two rubber bands and a strip of metal I cut from an old coffee can. The rest is history.

If you want to know more about the Harmonic Capo, I recommend watching the tutorial video on the weaseltrap.com website.

mwe3: You recorded Time And Again with mainly two different guitar tunings, AADEAE and DADGAD. Is there a way to compare those two different tunings? It sounds like DADGAD is the more peaceful of the two? Did you try to expand on the boundaries of guitar compositions with those tunings and what other tunings do you like to use?

Bob Kilgore: One of the things I learned from Michael Hedges is that the tuning should be whatever you need it to be to get the sound you want. There’s no system to it. The tuning changes when I can no longer reach notes I need. I’ve settled into a few “comfortable” tunings lately. I never used DADGAD before the Metamorphoses album, and then I used it on every track. I’ve used AADEAE for a long time and also CGDGDE.

One thing that is common to most of my tunings is that the lowest string usually goes down to provide contrast to the higher strings where I use the Harmonic Capo. By only engaging the capo on the higher strings, it allows some very cool chord pull-offs, where some notes go down and others go up.

mwe3: Did you use your world famous Harmonic Capo on different tracks on Time And Again and what tracks of yours offer the best examples of the Harmonic Capo in action? Do you feature the Harmonic Capo on your other albums too? What other artists have used the Harmonic Capo?

Bob Kilgore: I’ve used the Harmonic Capo on all my albums. Metamorphoses used it on every track. On Time and Again, I used it on nine tracks. The best examples are probably “Once Upon a Sky” and “The Tortoise and Achilles”.

I’ve sold thousands of Harmonic Capos since 2007, some of them to very famous guitarists. Honestly, I’m not sure how many of them use it in performance. I’m sure Vicki Genfan wouldn’t mind me dropping her name here. RafQu is another.

mwe3: I was reading that there was a German guitarist, who passed away in 2011, named Hans Reichel who also used a type of harmonic capo around the same time you did. Did you ever meet or speak with Hans and do you like his music and vice versa?

Bob Kilgore: Oh, yes. I wasn’t aware that he had passed away though. Hans Reichel was a very creative soul indeed. He had many inventions and unique instrument designs. Apparently, we both came up with the Harmonic Capo at roughly the same time. I think he said he had the idea in 1984 or 1985.

When I first learned about Hans Reichel, I contacted him by email and sent him one of my capos. He was very gracious and assured me that he had no intention of marketing his design because he had moved on to other creative projects. I regret that I never met him.

mwe3: What can you tell us about the artwork for the Time And Again CD cover art. It looks even more metaphysical than your other CD covers. How much of a role does artwork play in your music. Either by inspiring you musically or enhancing your music, for example in album cover art and even video clips which feature your music? Have you done any soundtracks and is that something you’d like to do in the future?

Bob Kilgore: The cover of Time and Again was created from a composite of a Hubble Space Telescope photo of a stellar nebula (V838 Monocerotis) and a photo of a hollow log that I took while hiking in North Carolina. I was drawn to the way the two images naturally merged. In a way, I think of my music as something organic, something firmly rooted in the soil, yet it also reaches to the sky. Looking back at my earlier album covers, there does seem to be a pattern there.

I’ve never pitched my music for soundtracks. Some of the tunes would make good ones. “Tap Jockey” comes to mind.

mwe3: What other musical activities are you planning for 2016 and into the coming year as far as writing, composing, performing and even creating new videos or other musical activities?

Bob Kilgore: Right now, I’m concentrating on marketing Time and Again and also Bear’s new release After a Pause. I don’t perform in public often, but I’m sure I’ll be doing some shows later this year.

I definitely need to do some videos of the tunes from Time and Again, especially “Tap Jockey”, “Stop Motion” and “On Point”. Those all need to be seen as well as heard.




 

 
   
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