blues guitar

Michael Gregory Jackson, putting his Superman into it, onstage with his Stratocaster Deluxe.

photo by Jon King

When the lifelong 6-string freedom fighter found himself burdened by the weight of systemic racism in an increasingly hostile climate, he found solace in the healing power of his git boxes—and a new solo album.

During the climax of the final piece of an ensemble concert held at a gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson climbed up a stepladder so tall that an acrophobic would have a heart attack just looking at it. Once high up in the sky, Jackson let loose a bucket of ping-pong balls in the direction of the audience. “Kinetic motion, sonically beautiful, startling, if not shocking,” recalls Jackson, “The concept was to break and disturb the plane and formality—the distance between the performers and the audience. To add a little mayhem and surprise. It also sounded great.”

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Rig Rundown - Carolyn Wonderland

An Austin guitar legend in the making shares her rare Gibson, custom-built amp, ferocious fingerpicking style, and passion for bringing fire to the blues.

Austin, Texas, has been a fertile proving ground for legendary blues guitarists. Some, most notably Stevie Ray Vaughan, have emerged to international acclaim. Others, like Derek O'Brien, make a living and earn the respect of their peers while mostly playing in the city's many clubs and studios. In recent years, Carolyn Wonderland—a revered player on the local scene since her arrival in 2001—has become a rising global star in the genre.

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