José Medeles, M. Ward, Marisa Anderson and Chris Funk – Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems: A Drummers Tribute to John Fahey

With the help of M. Ward, Marisa Anderson and Chris Funk, José Medeles pays homage to the spirit and techniques of John Fahey in a beautifully unique way.

Instead of covering Fahey’s songs for this tribute album, Medeles, a drummer who had previously worked with The Breeders and the 1939 Ensemble, set about improvising new guitar and percussion pieces that channeled the essence of the legend’s music and style.

Medeles took the percussive qualities of Fahey’s fingerpicking and took them further, actually reinterpreting his style through drumming. Oftentimes, Medeles also roughens the sound of his instruments (usually with brushes), mimicking some of the textures that the guitar legend displayed on his records. The drummer even utilizes slow gong crashes, jangling chimes and bells to create atmospheres that are just as thick and mystical as some of Fahey’s more experimental pieces.

Ward, Anderson and Funk meanwhile take turns weaving intricate acoustic and electric guitar lines around Medeles’ beats and blankets of percussive sounds. Each guitarist plays in styles that are reminiscent of Fahey’s work, while also building upon and advancing his techniques and ideas. This shows just how much the Takoma Park artist’s legacy lives on in today’s solo and finger style guitar music.

Songs like “Golden,” with Chris Funk, or “The Paper Snake,” with Marisa Anderson, feel both at one with the original vibe of Fahey’s vintage recordings, and completely modern at the same time. Much like Fahey’s material, these songs combine elements of the past and present to create something entirely new that will always feel new. This outside-of-time aspect is perhaps the element of Fahey’s music that Medeles and company connected with the best. It takes some major dedication and love to identify and replicate such an incorporeal aspect to an artist’s body of work.

For the reasons stated above, this is perhaps the strongest and most accessible Fahey tribute record yet. You don’t even need to be a Fahey fan to dearly love this album. So click here to get your copy of Railroad Cadences & Melancholic Anthems today if you’re a fellow Fahey devote (or not!)


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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