Monday night at Constellation, Fred Frith shook and scraped and stroked and beat his guitar. He set a can on top of the strings and ran a red ribbon through them. And that isn’t half of what he did. He had a whole table of implements ready to coax noises out of his guitar. He made it rattle and rumble and ring out. Very little of what came out of the amplifier sounded anything like conventional musical structure, and yet it was undeniably musical. At one point, Frith succeeded in making his guitar sound extraordinarily like a dulcimer.
Near the culmination of Frith’s hourlong improvisation, he sang wordless melodies. And when the whole remarkable performance was over and he left the room and everyone applauded, he came back and gave a bow. The crowd clapped more, and Frith came back one more time. He told us he wouldn’t be playing an encore, because he had just tried to take all of us on a journey with his music.
“We finally get somewhere and what do we do? Get back on the bus and go somewhere else? Nah.”