TVD Live: Steve Gunn at Baby’s All Right, 8/22

PHOTOS: MAS HINO | We first heard of Steve Gunn when he opened for Kurt Vile at Bowery Ballroom, and we missed him. He could be seen playing on the side of the stage with Kurt Vile, but we really couldn’t hear him. We made the assumption that if you are playing guitar with Kurt Vile, then chances are you are probably pretty good at guitar.

Later that month we were record shopping at Academy Records, when it was on N 6th, and up on the wall with the staff picks was Time Off and it said, “Recommended if you like Gene Clark’s No Other.” And we do, very much so, and although it doesn’t have the volume of overdubs and sounds more like when Jimmy Page breaks out the acoustic, they were right on the money that us Gene fans would dig this record.

Sadly, his show last Friday at Baby’s All Right was the second time we have not been able to see Steve Gunn together. Last summer Alex was on tour when he played 285 Kent. It was right after an awesome Tiny Desk Concert performance and the release of Time Off, so we were certain it would be packed, sold-out even, but to my surprise there were 15 people in the room.

Gunn was absolutely amazing and everyone there was stunned in disbelief that so few people seemed aware of it. He was truly on another level that night, peaking in fact, and I’m so glad I was there. His show Friday was great as well, and he delivered all the goods—cyclical and melodic guitar riffs, mellow and sultry vocals, thoughtful somewhat vague lyrics that sink into my bones, songs that slowly build into epic jams that you find yourself lost in, and this time, a packed room. There was even a touch of myth in the murmurs, dudes attempting to explain Gunn’s past to their ladies.

There is a genuine, dusty, salt-of-the-earth quality to the man and his voice. He sings about when the work is done. I want to say it’s the incredible fingerpicking skills that draw me in, and it is, but I also just have a soft spot for an amped acoustic run through some pedals and the resulting harmonics and overtones. There is this interplay I really love between the repetitive guitar licks that act as both rhythm and reprisal.

I also have to mention, as this is The VINYL District, that he had 4 different 12″ vinyl record for sale and a 7″ single and Time Off was NOT one of them—what a champ. It’s worth checking out his impressive discography on his website. I bought Melodies for A Savage Fix, a Steve Gunn / Mike Gang-Loff collaboration, and last time I added Boerum Hill to our collection, which are both easy listens and a lovely hang, but Time Off is still a winner and regularly plays in my headphones as I walk the city.

Walk around the city or your city to the song “Water Wheel” and get back to me.

Steve Gunn must be a rad guy because a lot of people like collaborating with him; we heard about yet another one on Spinning On Air Sunday, Desert Heat, with Irishman Cian Nugent and John Truscinski.

We are fans and can’t wait to get our copy of Way Out Weather October 7th.

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