Echo Location: The Beyman Bros

Spinal Tap guitarist creates bluegrass jams in global space.

(You can hear an audio version of this blog with music from The Beyman Bros.)

Christopher Buest, David Nichtern, CJ Vanston

Christopher Buest, David Nichtern, CJ Vanston

When you see the back CD cover of an album by The Beyman Bros, with Christopher Guest sitting on a porch, holding a mandolin, you might echo these thoughts by Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.

“Is this a joke? Excuse me. Is this a joke?

After all, Christopher Guest is the director, writer and actor who brought us Spinal Tap, Best of Show and A Mighty Wind. But then you hear the music on an album called Memories of Summer as a Child. Memories Of Summer As A Child It’s a CD of chilled trans-global bluegrass from Christopher Guest, David Nichtern and CJ Vanston. Vanston has worked with Guest since the early 90s, but the other Beyman brother, David Nichtern has known him since birth. They grew up in the New York City folk scene of the 1960s and played rock and roll together.

David Nichtern: I have a picture of the two of us in my studio here that I would say were probably 13 or 14 and I’m playing banjo and he’s playing guitar. We were kind of bluegrass heads and folk heads back then.

While Guest went to Hollywood, Nichtern went on to play with David Grisman. He composed Maria Muldaur‘s “Midnight at the Oasis,” and created a world fusion group called Drala. But he always got together in Christopher Guest’s Los Angeles kitchen to jam, and it’s usually not “Big Bottom.”

Christopher Guest: It is certainly either Bluegrass or some generic noodling, acoustic noodling. Either we are both playing guitar or I will play the mandolin. And sometimes we sing songs, but other times we’ll just kind of play and see where it goes.

With The Beyman Bros it goes to a world of bluegrass jams on eastern modalities drenched in ambience. Whatever you call the Beyman Bros global folk chamber music, it’s certainly not a parody.

Christopher Guest: Once you hear this it is evident pretty quickly this is just music. There’s no singing, so there are no jokes that would be in the lyrics. And it’s just music.

You can watch them playing that music here:

The Beyman Bros album, Memories of Summer as a Child is a deceptively beautiful CD, full of rich, east-west intersections and melodies that emerge from folk but go somewhere new. We’ll be featuring more of the Beyman Bros interview next Monday on Echoes. This has been an echo location, soundings for new music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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