American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Downloads available for three Kicking Mule titles

The rights to four of Duck’s five records made for Kicking Mule in the 1970s have reverted to him by arrangement with Stefan Grossman, and three of them are now available as high-quality MP3 downloads, though the CD’s themselves are not yet for sale since they need to be transported from the USA to the UK. The available titles are:

There’s Something for Everyone in America
The King of Bongo Bong
The Kid on the Mountain

Tablature book PDF’s are included with There’s Something for Everyone in America and The Kid on the Mountain.

The downloads are available from the Online Store

A few words about the Kicking Mule records seems in order. There’s Something for Everyone in America was Duck’s first record, recorded in 1974-75 and released in 1976. It put him on the map in the guitar world, one of a new generation of fingerpickers who were building on the legacy of folk revival icons like Dave Van Ronk and Davy Graham, as well such country pickers as Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. Many of these young players also recorded for Kicking Mule, like Ton Van Bergeyk, Dale Miller and Leo Wynkamp. Others included Guy Van Duser, Woody Mann, Rick Ruskin, John Miller, Eric Schoenberg, Pat Donohue and Tim Sparks. These new guitarists tackled ragtime, fiddle tunes, old pop songs, and blues, and expanded into swing jazz, Irish dance tunes, and anything else they could wrap their fingers and imaginations around. There’s Something for Everyone in America provided a good example of this kind of widening of the folk fingerstyle repertoire, and it earned rave reviews in the folk press on both sides of the Atlantic. Duck’s second KM release, When You Wore a Tulip, continued with this approach, but on the third, Stefan Grossman thought it was time for Baker to narrow his focus, so he concentrated on swing material. 8 of the 13 tracks on The King of Bongo Bong were vocals, and Duck also showed himself adept at working with other players, as Grossman backs him on two numbers, and five feature a trio with guitar, bass, and swing fiddler extraordinaire Mike Piggott. This record reflects what Duck was doing with friends he played with when he was touring around the USA in the mid to late 1970’s, like Tom Keats, Ray Landsberg and many others in San Francisco, Dan Sadowsky and Tim O’Brien of the Ophelia Swing Band in Boulder, and Tim Sparks and Prudence Johnson of Rio Nido, in Minneapolis.

The idea of focusing on one style carried over for Duck’s last two KM records.  The Art of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar showed how he had evolved an approach to modern jazz that was very unlike that of classically-trained guitarists like Bill Harris, Charlie Byrd, or Joe Pass, and also unveiled a compositional style influenced by pianists like Thelonious Monk, Randy Weston, and Abdullah Ibrahim. The Art of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar remains under license to Shanachie at this time.

Duck had become increasing involved with Irish music after moving to London in 1977, regularly attending sessions that featured such notable musicians as Raymond Roland, Liam Farrell, Bobby Casey, and Roger Sherlock. He had adopted his approach to American fiddle tunes to Irish and Scottish music,  contributed tracks to the anthology Irish Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes & Airs, and put together a book of guitar arrangements of traditional tunes. So it seemed only logical for him to make a solo record devoted to the same sort of material, and the result was The Kid on the Mountain. This record is still regarded as a landmark, both because it was the first record of Celtic music ever released by a solo guitarist by many years, and because Baker’s approach was so markedly different from that of most of the other players who have worked in this style. This CD reissue also includes a few bonus tracks drawn from other KM records Baker contributed to, including Irish Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes & Airs.

A CD/download reissue of When You Wore a Tulip is planned for early 2018.

To order the MP3’s, please click here.


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