Steve Gunn + Nathan Bowles @ The Mothlight | 03.22.18
As Nathan Bowles strummed his banjo, I found myself pondering the holding patterns of life. His contemplative playing progressed through repetitions and patterns, moving forward but also becoming entangled again in new patterns. It’s a fitting reflection of life itself. I currently find myself in limbo between holding patterns, feeling the relief of exiting one, only to find myself in the anticipation/dread of entering another. Bowles’ style of playing, sometimes referred to as American primitivism, has a history of enticing otherworldly existential qualities out of earthly tones. Bowles’ set of banjo introspections definitely fit this description.
Following Bowles and headlining the night was guitar-slinger Steve Gunn. Standing alone on the dark stage, Gunn nimbly picked through his tunes with his own meditations in contemplation. His songs find balance between the classic delta blues, traditional rock & roll and Fahey-esque folk. On record he’s usually backed by a band for a fuller sound, but the solo performance on Thursday night provided Gunn’s songs a beneficial intimacy. Thankfully, the mostly seated crowd was quiet and polite. As he weaved enchanting melodies on his six-string, his calm voice provided casual, sparse vocals which helped to provide breaks within the hypnotizing spell of his playing.
The sets by Gunn and Bowles, though unaccompanied on Thursday night, were captivating in both prowess and the introspective qualities that arise from their organic approaches to songwriting.