November 9, 2010
An Interview with Mike Fekete
All week Delta-Slider will be running interviews with artists from the Imaginational Anthem Vol 4 release. Today we are talking to Mike Fekete.
When I met you on your last tour you mentioned having a strong opinion about guitars for solo guitar, would you like to expand on that? Maybe start by telling me what you play...
I play a Taylor 312ce which I bought new in 2000, right around when I started playing solo guitar. It's been my main guitar since then. I think that what I was talking about when we met was about solo guitar records, not about guitars themselves.
I am curious about what attracted you to solo guitar.
What I'm drawn to most is the idea of seeing how much can be expressed by one person within the constraint of one instrument.
You have some pretty long pieces, how much do you improvise during live performances? While recording?
When I play live I like to connect pieces together and improvise the segues. As far as improvising within the actual compositions, I do change the amount of times I repeat certain ideas, but I rarely do anything like improvise a melody. I never improvise while recording.
You seem to go on tour regularly lately, is that something you enjoy?
I like everything about it. It's always interesting to see how the music resonates differently based on the geography. Also, I'm a big fan of driving long distances alone, and touring with this kind of music provides many opportunities for that. The only hard part I can really think of is trying to talk about it without sounding cliché.
How is George Winston important to you?
He has everything to do with me being a solo instrumentalist. It was his solo piano album, Plains, that first made me want to play solo instrumental music. He also produced and released--on his Dancing Cat label--the compilation, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters, which was the first guitar record to have a big impact on me. In addition, I recently found out that he was responsible for providing the previously unreleased first half of Fahey's, America, for the 1998 CD reissue--which is my favorite Fahey album and the most influential on me. He told me that he was going through a used record bin in Los Angeles and he came across a double LP in a blank sleeve and the only thing written on the label was "John Fahey" which was in what he recognized as John's own handwriting. It turned out to be the original test pressing of America, including the first half, which at that point nobody really knew existed. George has influenced my music in many different ways, and I've also gotten to know him personally a bit, and through that relationship have been inspired by his deep kindness and generosity.
Considering the critical acclaim that this series has garnered, how do you feel about being included in this 4th volume?
I'm a big fan of the first three volumes, and of Tompkins Square in general, so it's a total honor. Also, I personally think this new volume is a solid addition to the series, and I'm very proud to have been a part of that.
Tell me about your connection to Pat O'Connell. Have you met other members of the compilation?
I got in touch with Pat after hearing him on the Fahey tribute, Revenge of Blind Joe Death. We began communicating and discovered that we both grew up in Ohio, and literally right down the road from each other. The more I got into his music, the more I could see how much we come from the same place musically as well. What I'm drawn to most about Pat is his strong sense of melody. He currently lives in New Mexico, and I'm in Washington State, and we still haven't met in person--although I've enjoyed getting to know him via email. We've been trying to meet up in Ohio to do some shows, but we haven't been able to work it out yet. The only person on the compilation that I've actually met is Aaron Sheppard. I first met him at a show I was doing in Santa Cruz. I played with Sean Smith in San Francisco the night before and Sean had been raving about Aaron--so based on that I invited him to come up and play during the set break. His playing was so impressive that it turned into a long break. I invited him up after my second set as well. Afterward, he told me it was only the third time he had played in front of an audience. One thing I really love about Aaron's playing is how articulate the rhythm of his right hand is. Besides being a great guitarist, he is also one of the nicest people I've met. We did a show together down in Portland not too long ago, and I hope to do more performances with him in the future.
Future projects we should know about?
I put out four EP's between 2001 and 2006 which were all limited release, and are currently unavailable. I'd like to make them available again, and that'll probably be my next release. Also, I have most of my next album written, and I'd like to have that out sometime in 2012. I like to sit with music for a quite a while before I record it.
Be sure to check out Mike Fekete on CDbaby
Mike is also on MySpace, and Facebook.
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