More or less echoing what we wrote when Gwenifer Raymond passed through this house, and now 64 years on from the release of Blind Joe Death and 22 years since John Fahey’s departure, the spectre of American Primitive Guitar as postulated by the Master and propagated by his Takoma continues to haunt in a beatific way forms and approaches that guarantee its continued vitality. From Fahey’s contemporaries like Leo Kotke or Robbie Basho, to the generation of people like Jack Rose, Glenn Jones or Steffen Basho-Junghans, to more recent names like Marisa Anderson or James Blackshaw, the variety of solutions and stories presented is still relevant and capable of reinvention in body and spirit. Hayden Pedigo appears to us as one of the most fundamental to its perpetuation.
A curious persona who gained special notoriety in the American media when he ran for a seat on the City Council in his hometown of Amarillo at the age of 24. His surreal campaign was even the subject of a documentary called Kid Candidate in 2021, Pedigo stands out as a charismatic eccentric in a “genre” characterised by sobriety. Endowed with a peculiar sense of humour, noticeable in his videos, photos and artwork, Pedigo debuted in 2013 with Seven Years Late, revealing a music indebted to past masters but in search of its own language, in a lo-fi drift through the great American spaces between hesitant fingerpicking, degraded organs and a feeling of irresolution. A decade later, with five albums under his belt, including Five Steps – where he collaborated with some of his heroes such as Charles Hayward from This Heat, Fred Frith or “Zappi” Diermeier from Faust – or the celebrated Letting Go, Pedigo takes a safe step forward with The Happiest Times I’ve Ever Ignored.
With a title taken from a note left in a hotel room by Doug Kenney, co-founder of National Lampoon, and found after his death, this second disc on Mexican Summer definitively discards everything that might have been tentative in previous endeavours to reveal itself in seven resplendent songs, made up of harmonies that unfold at a slow pace, with the calm that these things demand, revolving around a particular idea without haste or displays of sterile virtuosity. Full of honesty. BS