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Beefheart Guitarist Gary Lucas Explores Gospel on Chase the Devil

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Blog post by Jeff Owens

New York avant-garde guitarist and guitar scholar Gary Lucas has raised eyebrows and amazed listeners for years—including an ’80s-era stint with Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band—and has now turned his formidable musical attention to gospel music in a new collaboration with jazz/blues vocalist Dean Bowman titled Chase the Devil.

Often wielding his 1966 Stratocaster® guitar on the album, Lucas, with Bowman, leads listeners through a 12-song set of spiritual roots music, ranging from a pair of originals (“Nobody’s House,” “Time and the Place”) to traditional arrangements (“God is a Good God,” “In Christ There is No East or West”) to Jewish folk songs (“Hinay Ma Tov”) to Rev. Gary Davis covers (“Twelve Gates to the City,” “Children of Zion”) and more.

Lucas, hailed by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke as “one of the best and most original guitarists in America” and by the New Yorker as “the thinking man’s guitar hero,” is also a Grammy-nominated songwriter, internationally acclaimed recording and touring artist with more than 20 solo albums in a wealth of genres, bandleader in his own right (Gods and Monsters, Fast ‘n’ Bulbous), prolific film and television soundtrack composer, and a respected music educator/lecturer who has taught at Yale University (his alma mater), the Amsterdam Music Conservatorium, the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, New York University and Columbia University.

Most visibly, perhaps, Lucas spent five years in the 1980s as guitarist with his childhood hero, visionary avant-rock godfather/composer/bandleader Don “Captain Beefheart” Van Vliet, appearing on albums Doc at the Radar Station (1980) and Ice Cream for Crow (1982). Lucas has also worked with a vast and diverse array of artists, including Lou Reed, Nick Cave, John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Leonard Bernstein, Robyn Hitchcock, David Johansen, Matthew Sweet, Iggy Pop, Van Dyke Parks, Dr. John, Graham Parker, Fred Schneider, Warren Haynes, and many others.

Lucas is enjoying an especially prolific year in 2010, with other scheduled releases including a compilation of instrumental versions of Rolling Stones hits performed by Latin American musicians and a DVD featuring his film score collaboration with composer Reza Namavar for director Abel Gance’s 1919 silent anti-war epic J’Accuse.

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