G is for… Jon Gomm

Image from Jon’s website, taken by Marc Mennigmann, used with permission

I became aware of Jon Gomm some time in the early 2000s, as he was on a Usenet (remember that?) group I also frequented, uk.music.guitar. It was a by definition a localised (to the UK) community of guitar players who were also geek enough to use Usenet, so there was plenty of common ground. I began to hear about this amazing acoustic player who plays percussion on his guitar while playing it, and sings at the same time. Sounded pretty far fetched at the time, but sure enough, it was true. I checked out some of his music and was suitably impressed. Jon is a true independent musician, by the way. He has released his three solo albums on his own record label, and generally avoids playing chain venues and corporate events.

Wikipedia says that Jon is "a disciple of Michael Hedges", which I can neither enforce nor dispute since I have no knowledge whatsoever of Hedges, but does say that he is "part of a generation of guitarists using extended techniques", referring to the way he plays an entire rhythm section and melody at the same time on the one instrument, often while singing over it at the same time, and mentions another such player Andy McKee, whose video "Drifting" had been my very first exposure to percussive playing of this kind.

Andy took my breath away with that, but it was Jon who clean knocked me off my feet with his musicality and his technique.

Clive recommends:

Jon’s been a busy touring lad of late, so we’re still waiting for new material since 2013’s amazing Secrets Nobody Keeps, but if you don’t have that yet, you’re doing it wrong. Stop that right now.

Video evidence

Jon is no trick-cyclist, his percussive and unique guitar playing style comes from deep within his soul allowing him to make the noises he must. That said, his technique is utterly jaw-dropping, and nowhere less so than on the breakout song “Passionflower”. Wrap your looking gear around the video that helped him to achieve the recognition he so richly deserves.

He does this stuff live, you know. No overdubs, no retakes. One man, one heart, one incredible sound.

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