Whenever someone comments that there is no talent in the Christian market, it only takes one man to blast that arguement to bits. It is a widely accepted stipulation that Phil Keaggy is one of the best guitar players alive today. But because he sticks to his guns and mainly plays churches and other Christian events it is rare that you hear a peep about him outside the Christian hub.
At his solo concerts he plays by himself onstage for an hour or more. He takes his songs and transforms them into one man jams, doing stuff to make even the most proficient guitar player drop jaw. In the Creation Festival setting, each slot gets about a half an hour of playing time. And this time was shared with one of the pioneers of Christian rock, Randy Stonehill.
The time started off with Randy Stonehill playing a few songs by himself. Other than knowing that Stonehill is classic and one of those guys that my dad has old records of, I did not know too much about him. I was impressed. While he was a 70′s hippie rock n roll guy, he now looks like a quirky business man. He was onstage with just an acoustic guitar and a sense of humor to rival Conan O’Brien. The songs translated well, I believe, to the acoustic guitar setting, and with the never ceasing humorous remarks he felt very intimate.
After a few songs he invited Phil Keaggy onstage. He and Keaggy have been good friends for a long time and would make comments like, “We wrote this song together back in ’84 when Keaggy was at my house.” I started to feel intimidated because I was born in that year.
When Keaggy came onto the stage I had a hard time recognizing him. The previous times that I’ve seen him live he is wearing a cap and doesn’t have any facial hair. This time there was nothing covering his head and he had a gotee. Regardless, his playing was unaffected.
After a few songs Stonehill excused himself from the stage and allowed Keaggy to give us a small taste of what his full length live show would be composed of. He played a few crowd favorites, allowing time in each to just jam out with himself. Using a loop pedal (I have no clue what it’s called), he would layer different guitar parts (and other stuff) to create a whole symphony of noise. He would use the hollow body of his guitar as a percussive instrument and loop that, too. By putting his face to the hole of the guitar he sang different vocal parts and they would start looping.
After about ten minutes, Stonehill came back onstage and they wrapped the all to short session up with another song or two. But the high created by the show lasted all day. If you play the guitar you have to make a point of checking out www.philkeaggy.net and finding a show near you.
For more information on the Creation Festival visit http://www.blogcritics.org/archives/2003/06/29/010811.php.