Guitarist Asbell to play in Ripton
RIPTON — The Ripton Community Coffee House, a nonprofit community concert series, welcomes guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter Paul Asbell on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ripton Community House in Ripton.
“Legendary” is the only way to describe Asbell, who began his musical career in Chicago, with tours and recordings with such well-regarded performers as John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters, and Paul Butterfield, among others. In 1971, needing a “spiritual battery recharge,” Asbell moved to Vermont and was soon doing session work for Philo Records and performing regionally with Mary McCaslin, Jim Ringer, Paul Siebel and other singer-songwriters.
The desire to play challenging original music led him to assemble the award-winning quartet Kilimanjaro. In 1984, Kilimanjaro joined forces with Paul Butterfield and toured for several years as a double bill. While at home, Asbell and other members of Kilimanjaro joined with blues-jazz legend “Big Joe” Burrell to form the Unknown Blues Band, performing and touring in New England and the Northeast.
Since the early ’80s, Asbell has performed with numerous legends of jazz and blues, including Bobby McFerrin, David Bromberg, Betty Carter, the Sun Ra Arkestra and Joshua Redman. More recently, he has begun infusing a lifelong obsession with Depression-era American “folk ’n’ roots” styles into his performances.
Recent appearances include Healdsburg and Newport guitar festivals, MerleFest, and numerous acoustic venues across the country. His solo acoustic CDs, “Steel-String Americana” and “Roots and Branches,” received numerous rave reviews for their highly individualized twists on blues and jazz standards, old-timey country-based themes and original pieces from the “American roots” tradition. The Flynn Theater called them “a genre-blurring, virtuosic waltz through the deep heritage of American folklore, where styles of Robert Johnson, Doc Watson and Dr. John rub elbows with those of Joe Pass and Bill Frisell.”
Asbell has taught for years at University of Vermont and Middlebury College and has given master classes at Skidmore College, Dartmouth College, Johnson State College, Marlboro College, Swannanoa Guitar Week, and elsewhere. In addition, he presently sees between 10 to 25 private students each week, covering every conceivable age, style and playing level. Past students have included recognized professionals in jazz, rock, folk, and more, including Phish songwriter/guitarist/icon Trey Anastasio.?
As always, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with an open-mike set, followed by the featured performers. Open-mike performers are encouraged to call in advance and reserve one of the four open-mike slots. Admission to the coffeehouse is $3 for kids 12 and under, $10 general admission, and $15 generous admission. The economically challenged may pay what they can afford. Refreshments are available.
The coffeehouse is held on the first Saturday of each month, except August. For more information, contact Richard Ruane or Andrea Chesman at 388-9782.