Handmade Music

by James Filkins

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Two songs featured and released on the compilation CD Handmade Music.

Hand Made Music, a concept album in the literal sense, is like a breath of fresh air… with music that is pretty much devoid of pretension, broad in scope, and a participating group of builders and players who live, breath, and share an obvious love for the acoustic guitar.

Aside from these traditional-leaning tunes, and a few excursions into classical territory, the remainder of the tracks on HMM could probably be broadly described as contemporary fingerstyle, in the lineage of players like Will Ackerman and Tommy Emmanuel, or the later work of someone like Pierre Bensusan or Peter Finger. I know it sounds a bit vague, “contemporary fingerstyle”, but for the purposes of this review, I could define it as an approach to acoustic guitar playing that is compositionally adventurous, and one that regularly delves into exotic tunings, advanced playing and modern recording techniques, and a certain kind of no-borders musical worldview. ”Progressive” is of course a loaded term these days, but much of the music on HMM is just that, especially when viewed from a compositional standpoint… and while a couple of these tunes do teeter on the brink of a noodly, new-age aesthetic, that’s definitely not the overall feeling. Tracks like J.P. Webster’s harmonic-rich “Wildwood Flower” (performed here by Doiug Young) and James Filkins’ “Autumnal Equinox” are patient, impressionistic-seeming works at first, but actually overflow with important musical details and nuances. These pieces can be equally enjoyable to listen to attentively, or to just get lost in, and their mix of melancholy and understated virtuosity can be found on many of these tracks.

-Work & Worry(Raymond Morin)


released June 2, 2010

Both songs were performed on a McKnight Highlander model guitar known as the “Cigar” made by acclaimed luthier Tim McKnight.



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James Filkins Traverse City, Michigan

James Filkins is a fingerstyle acoustic guitar player using primarily alternate tunings, with a style that is a bit new age, a bit Celtic but absolutely ALL acoustic! With an operating philosophy of “a barbaric yawp is better than no yawp at all” he has recorded two CDs of all original fingerstyle acoustic guitar music that is acoustically melodic, moody and textured. ... more

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