Glenn Jones

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  • Cambridge, MA

Artist Biography

"The best guitarist you never heard of." –The Boston Globe

Glenn Jones is a master of American Primitive Guitar, a style invented in the late 1950s by John Fahey, whose traditional fingerpicking techniques and wide-ranging influences were used to create modern original compositions. Jones, who led the post-rock ensemble Cul de Sac, brings his own made-up tunings, the use of custom-crafted partial capos, and a highly skilled picking style on both banjo and guitar, to create personal compositions that are lyrical, emotive and elegant.

What sets him apart from the myriad guitarists playing today is his ability to tell stories with the guitar and banjo, and to convey a range of emotions. This process starts with the compositions themselves and carries through to his selection of recording environment and engineer. 

Jones turned away from standard tuning years ago, inventing tunings as a way of escaping the known. The pieces he writes in these tunings are his way of navigating new and unfamiliar landscapes. “But it’s my hope,” he says, “that what you hear are not the tunings and partial capos and all that, but the music — the feeling within these pieces.” 

To date, Jones has issued six full-length solo albums, many of which have made several critics' year-end "best of" lists. HIs most recent were Fleeting (2016) and Waterworks (2017), and An Idea in Everything (2017), a collaboration album with Chris Corsano and David Greenberger.

Jones has written extensively about the leading lights of the American Primitive guitar style, namely John Fahey (with whom he was friends for nearly 25 years), and Robbie Basho (Jones was friends with the guitarist until Basho's untimely death in 1986, and hosted the guitarist / singer's final tour of the East Coast).

He's written liner notes for five Fahey albums to date, including, notably, Fahey's final album, Red Cross, and he produced Fahey's posthumously issued 1968 live album, The Great Santa Barbara Oil Slick (Water) as well as a 1980 live recording by Robbie Basho, Bonn Ist Supreme (Bo' Weavil) and the issue of demo recordings for Basho's last solo guitar album, Twilight Peaks (Smeraldina-Rima).

Jones also produced a massive five-CD box-set of John Fahey's earliest recordings, Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You(2011; Dust-to-Digital), which he worked on for 11 years. The album received rave reviews.

Glenn first began touring solo in 2003, opening for Jack Rose in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the UK. Jones guests on several of Jack's albums, including his last, Luck in the Valley. The Things That We Used to Do, a DVD featuring hour-long solo sets from each artist, and a pair of duets, was issued in April 2010 (Strange Attractors).

Jones' latest project is The Thousand Incarnations of the Rose -- An Introduction to American Primitive Guitar & Banjo, 1963-1974, a double LP / CD package for which he selected the tracks and wrote extensive liner notes. It's slated for release in late 2017. 

Glenn also just finished recording a brand new studio album for Thrill Jockey, which will be issued in 2018.

Selected Press incredibly adept fingerstyle guitarist whose technique always remains in service of the song... His vigorous leaps are daring but never reckless, and nearly always sublime.

Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader

...establishes the guitar aficionado as nearly being in a world of his own as far as technical prowess and emotional resonance goes... a wonderful and mesmerizing album of masterful guitar work from one of contemporary music's finest... a graceful, nuanced, tranquil affair...

...captivating... Jones' slide work on the resonator guitar sounds especially meaty, and when all six, and sometimes 12, strings start chiming as he fingerpicks, the effect is shimmering.

Mike Shanley, Harp

Besides his determined, dexterous finger picking, Jones uses half-capos and alternative tunings to create incandescent sitar-like sounds... these shimmering musical meditations evoke a wondrous tranquility that's simply soulful.

Linda Laban, Boston Globe

Jones has a solid grasp of the fundamentals, not just of his instrument, but also of music-making in general. He obtains attractive and varied tones from his several open-tuned acoustic guitars, and fashions them into involving, carefully drawn and skillfully paced audio narratives that impart emotions ranging from sweet affection to complicated grief... declare[s] Jones to be a musician whose moment has arrived.

Bill Meyer, Dusted

Jones couldn't be more pliant, blending Old World into New... he dedicates himself to mastery on a downright thrilling listen that threatens to elevate his chosen idiom to renewed prominence.

Kevin Keegan, Illinois Entertainer

...both daring and accessible... Jones is a talent who deserves a larger audience...

Ted Drozdowski, Boston Phoenix