Peter Lang,
Dharma Blues
(Horus, 2001)

After a 22-year hiatus, Peter Lang has finally come out with a new album! Dharma Blues, released on Horus Records, is an excellent and engaging fingerstyle guitar album. Once you hear this CD, I am sure you will agree with me that it is too bad that Peter got sidetracked for two decades as an animation and special effects producer. I understand (but have not confirmed) that raising a family might also have had something to do with his disappearance from the music scene.

We can thank Peter's friend Fred Sheppard who, according to the CD liner notes, had been bugging Peter for years to record a new album. Apparently, one day a few years ago, Fred said "You know Pete, you might wake up some day, in a drainage ditch in the middle of the freeway with one eye sticking up out of the muck and think to yourself, gee, I wish I'd made that record." Thank goodness for bad imagery to get someone's butt in gear!

Dharma Blues brings to mind the country blues style of the '20s and '30s. However, eleven of the twelve pieces here were written by Peter especially for this CD. "Poor Boy/Guitar Rag" was written by John Fahey and Bukka White. All the selections are played solo by Peter on either 6- or 12-string acoustic guitar.

"Thicker Than Wicker" is a nice intro for the disc. This folksy tune nicely displays Peter's talent on the guitar. "Poor Boy/Guitar Rag" is probably one of my favorite selections on the CD. While Peter is a definite master on the guitar, I also have to admit that I have yet to hear something of Bukka White's that I did not enjoy. This piece has a real country feel to it with a little bluegrass thrown in.

Another favorite tune is "Itasca." This is a easy going piece with a simple riff for the most part, but it quickly grabs your attention. Most of the tunes on Dharma Blues are two to three minutes long. "Dogs Howl," however, clocks in at 9 minutes, 31 seconds! Showing his sense of humor in the liner notes, Peter writes, "Dogs howl, people play music. When the moon is full, I howl."

You can check out Peter's website for some more information about him as well as his recordings from the '70s. If you like acoustic guitar, folk, bluegrass, old country or just simply appreciate great musical talent, I don't think you can go wrong with Dharma Blues.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 9 March 2002

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