Cameron Knowler and Eli Winter are two masters of the six string, but arrived at these distinctions via very different routes. Knowler is a journeyman bluegrass guitarist from the deep Southwest with lots of session gigging and a number of festivals under his belt, and Winter wields the same instrument as an avant-folk newcomer in the vibrant Chicago experimental scene. And yup, he's been featured on the site before. Given these professional contexts with seemingly little commonality, the title of their upcoming collaborative album is all that more impressive. Anticipation is key for any musical partnership, and across eight jams, the Knowler/Winter duo proves that they've got it down.
The duo in Texas. Photo credit: Mark Lewis
Anticipation serves as a snapshot of the artists' tour together through the sparsely-populated Trans-Pecos region of Texas during the winter of 2018. Nightly sets for small town crowds included both solo and duo performances, the artists running through traditional folk melodies and original pieces. The night before Winter flew back to Chicago via Houston, he and Knowler composed and recorded most of Anticipation in a marathon nine-hour session. It's a capstone piece, then, and a few of the tracks were recorded in just one take. Again, the music performed on Anticipation demonstrates exactly that.
Besides jam-based interplay, listeners can also appreciate the diversity of genres present on Anticipation. Each guitarist plays expertly within their respective wheelhouses, but are just as excited to wander outside established comfort zones in certain moments. Opening track (and lead single) Strawberry Milk sounds as one might expect from the pair, but then there is the bayou twang of And So I Did and the noisy chaos of Sippin' Amaretto. Caddo Lake twirls beautifully, and closing track Southern Filibuster is a raw live take. The album's apex, however, is A White Rose for Mark - a multi-movement tribute to the late Mark Fossom. Knowler and Winter played alongside Fossom during his last ever set, and the composition is deeply moving. Across the seven-minute track, the guitarists occupy a shared tread, making it seem like the two (or three) are playing as one.
Anticipation is out March 12th via American Dreams Records, who is churning out some top-notch material right now. You can find the album for preorder through this link, where you can also stream a couple singles early. Catch the video for the aforementioned Strawberry Milk below, and stay in tune for more from ADR tomorrow!