Words and guitar
One chanteuse and one ‘poet of the guitar’ team up for new duo, The Sing Strings
Chico, CA 95928
Bay Area acoustic guitarist Brian Gore spent his college days studying philosophy in Tübingen, Germany.
“When the parents asked me, ‘What are you going to do with a degree in philosophy?’ I said, ‘Become a musician,’” Gore offered in a recent phone interview from his San Francisco home.
Makes perfect sense. Especially since Gore, now 47 and referred to widely as a “poet of the guitar,” has played the instrument since he was “12 or 13.”
At first, Gore “used the guitar as a reference point for songwriting.” But, he said, “When my voice changed, I started doing more instrumental stuff.”
And the highly praised guitarist’s “instrumental stuff” got pretty darned good. He’s now known around the world, as well as here in Chico, for his popular touring guitar festival, International Guitar Night.
In February, Gore teamed up with Bay Area chanteuse Scheherazade Stone—whose musical résumé includes collaborations with the likes of late jazz trumpeter Don Cherry and tenor sax player Chico Freeman—to become the duo, The Sing Strings, which will perform at 1078 Gallery on Aug. 7.
Local “California Celtic” band Ha’penny Bridge will open the show, which will feature “a good core of [Gore’s] instrumental pieces” in addition to The Sing Strings’ set.
“I’ve been following her for a long time,” said Gore of Stone, whom he went to see perform regularly at S.F.’s now-defunct Storyville Classic Jazz Club.
“People used to say, ‘Brian, you’ve gotta ask her [to perform with you],’” he added. “But I was too shy.”
Part of the reason for his initial shyness, Gore explained, was the fact that Stone is so talented and so “drop-dead gorgeous.” But he finally broke down late last year and e-mailed her a recording of one of his original instrumental songs, “Zen Scream.”
“And she said, ‘Man, I love this!’”
Stone’s soulful rendition of the lyricized version of “Zen Scream” shows off her smoky, emotive voice as well as Gore’s facile, pretty playing. The song is on the duo’s new live album available for free download on Gore’s blog (http://guitaristbriangore.wordpress.com).
The other songs on the album—a mix of originals and cover tunes—similarly show off the creative power generated by combining the superior and eclectic talents of Stone and Gore.
Their version of “Use Somebody” is a lovely, peaceful take on the well-known, rocking Kings of Leon song, and their take on Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean’s “Ready for the Storm” is equally serene and accomplished.
“I can definitely tell you that there has never been such a soul- and R&B-tinged version [of ‘Ready for the Storm’] like the one that she does,” said Gore, with a touch of pride in his voice.
Gore and Stone’s cover of late English singer-songwriter Nick Drake’s “Things Behind the Sun” epitomizes the duo’s musical beauty. On it, the two clearly work as a musical team. Gore supports Stone perfectly with his sensitive, responsive guitar work while she delivers Drake’s observant lyrics and complex melody with passion, conviction and control: “Look around, you find the ground/ Is not so far from where you are/ But not too wise/ For down below they never grow/ They’re always tired and charms are hired/ From out of their eyes/ Never surprise.”
While he has worked with a number of vocalists over the years, Gore said that his plan “had been not to work regularly with any singer.” But his collaboration with Stone has changed all that.
“We’re gonna stick with each other and go as far as we can take this,” said Gore. “I hope I won’t be doing solo shows without Sche-herazade for a long time to come, do you know what I mean?”