George Bedard 2011
unsupported by any institution or critical apparatus. It's an occasion for giving the man proper respect.
Variety and craft, more than blinding speed (although he's capable of that, too) have always been the hallmarks of Bedard's style, and both are abundant on Pickin' Apart the Past. His music is rooted in what might by now be called traditional rock 'n' roll, and in his quest for the memorable riff, he's an heir of the Chicago blues players who inspired the great rock guitarists and whom he heard in the clubs and at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival as a teen. But his artistry extends to many of the mainstreams of twentieth-century music: to straight country, pop (the new album contains a spot-on version of the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), and a remarkable amount of jazz in which he artfully reduces ensemble arrangements to the dimensions of a small rock band. He's a guitar polymath.
Bedard's new album of instrumentals is a more personal statement than most of his other recordings and performances with the various bands of which he's been part. He performs with longtime associates, including bassist Randy Tessier and drummer Rich Dishman, but mostly in trios or quartets, with the focus on his own guitar. In the booklet notes for Pickin' on the Past he discusses the processes, some of them years or decades long, by which he mastered individual pieces; with luck he'll talk more about these homages during his Top of the Park show.