April 13, 2009

Dean Magraw

The world is full of amazing guitarists.

There are flatpickers, and fingerstylists. Performers and composers.

Guitarists engaging in a variety of genres - country, jazz, folk, classical, rock and roll, avant garde, and world music. Players who shine a light on the traditions of the past, and others who look to the future for sounds yet unheard.

It's very rare that a single player can cover so many bases, and still excel at all of them.

Maybe that's the best way to describe Dean Magraw's talent - rare. From bebop flavored jazz sets at the Artist's Quarter, to rollicking takes on folk music from around the world with his eclectic ensemble Boiled in Lead - Magraw never disappoints. His solo acoustic work goes in many directions, sometimes with a pick in hand, and just as often without. At times, very traditional; and at others, wholly contemporary. He can push the sonic boundaries (and his audience's comfort zone) with his forays into the avant garde, embracing the chaos that makes space for the beauty of it all.

Magraw is a guitarist's guitarist - talented, skilled, adventurous, and never lacking the playful spirit behind his ever-present smile.

He sees the threaded connections between all music, threads that might seem disparate to most others.

In a world that asks us to define, categorize, and compartmentalize, Magraw (true to form) runs against the grain and simply asks us to listen.

And we should.

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