Sure, the Oklahoma native’s folk-influenced, Peabody Conservatory-refined, world music-encompassing works were on a different planet than Jimi’s psychedelic blues/R&B hybrid, but both artists shared a common denominator: They pushed the technical, aural, and artistic boundaries of their instruments light years beyond what had previously been attempted or imagined.
Hedges’ discovery by Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman—who had his “head torn off” by the guitarist’s logic-defying fretboard techniques and multi-layered solo compositions—meant his records were usually relegated to the new age bins. However, the breadth of Hedges’ artistry was not so easily classifiable. Shrugging off conventional labels altogether, Hedges jokingly referred to his music as “new edge,” “acoustic thrash,” or “heavy mental.” Sadly, like Hendrix, Hedges was taken from us too soon. He died in a car accident in 1997, at the age of 43.
Aerial Boundaries, 1984
It’s not hyperbole to call this the greatest solo-acoustic record ever made. Partly because Hedges’ kinetic use of chord hammer-ons, customized altered tunings, and fretboard tapping/slapping make it sound like there are several guitars playing at once, but mostly because his chops never overshadow his brilliant compositional skills.
Live on the Planet, 1987
This live, panoramic snapshot of Hedges’ artistic oeuvre finds him playing ethereal duets with fretless bassist Michael Manring, offering hip interpretations of tunes by Dylan, Lennon, and Sheila E., and seemingly morphing into a one-man string consort on his 11-string Dyer harp-guitar.
After experimenting with vocals, drum machines, and keyboards on his previous outings, the sudden return of a handmade instrument stolen in 1982 sparked Hedges’ renewed focus on instrumental acoustic music. “Jitterboogie” and his reworking of Zappa’s “Sofa #1” rank among his finest solo guitar performances.
Breakfast in the Field, 1981
Recorded live to stereo, Hedges’ debut marked the subtle, yet undeniable beginning of a musical revolution. Although not as fully realized as Aerial Boundaries, Breakfast in the Field’s “Layover” and “The Funky Avocado” put the music world on notice that the steel-string acoustic could be more than just an accessory for coffee-house folkies.
Inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell, Hedges conceived Taproot as an “autobiographical myth told through music and non-literal imagery.” The CD certainly ranks as his most evocative and emotionally charged.
Posthumously released albums assembled from unfinished demos can be awkward affairs, but this collection of primarily vocal-based songs suggests that the artistic relationship/friendship Hedges forged with David Crosby and Graham Nash was coaxing him to higher levels of songwriting.
Watching My Life Go By, 1985
The tunes are solid, the lyrics are thoughtfully written, and Hedges’ voice is pleasant enough. Unfortunately, Hedges the instrumental composer set the bar so high that Hedges the tunesmith had a tough time measuring up.
Platinum and Gold Collection, 2003
While the dozen tracks chosen for this greatest hits CD are among Hedges’ finest, your one-stop shopping needs are better served by the more expansive Beyond Boundaries: Guitar Solos.
Linda May Han Oh Releases Fourth Solo Album 'Walk Against Wind'
Famed Guitar Maker Dean Zelinsky Discusses Starting Dean Guitars as a Teenager
Peter Hook Discusses His Live Recordings of Classic Joy Division and New Order Albums (WATCH)
This Week in Free Stuff: Light-Load Plug-in Instruments
Superbooth17 Day One: The Weird and the Wonderful
Puremagnetik K-Station Atmospheres Revives Love for the Kawai K5000S Additive Synth
Jazz Piano Legend Junior Mance and His Struggle with Dementia Profiled in New Kickstarter Film
The Art of Synth Soloing: Joe Zawinul, the Syndicate Years
Steinway Unveils Art Case Piano Celebrating Composer Modest Mussorgsky
Are Guitar Amp Simulators Better Than Real Amps?
Todd Rundgren and Joe Satriani Team Up for “This Is Not a Drill”
Watch Paul Gilbert Play “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Ghost's Papa Emeritus Performs with Kreator on German Talk Show
A Story Inspired Premiere New Song Featuring Fit for a King's Ryan Kirby, "Weak Willed"
Every Time I Die Tease Forthcoming Music Video
Is This the Mother of All Finger Exercises?
Watch Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr Perform "Something"
Watch Amy Winehouse's 2004 Promo for the Fender Stratocaster
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470