Sir Richard Bishop w. Jozef Van Wissem, Tashi Dorji, Samuel Locke Ward
Trumpet Blossom Cafe — Friday, April 3 at 9 p.m.
Mission Creek has built a solid reputation for curating some of the best musicians in niche genres, and for this year’s festival there probably isn’t a better example of this than legendary guitar player Sir Richard Bishop. He headlines a night of experimental music Friday a 9 p.m. at Trumpet Blossom Cafe.
Sir Richard Bishop (not an actual knight but totally deserving of the accolade) is generally known from his work as a member of underground rock weirdo institution Sun City Girls. He released over 50 albums with the band over the course of 26 years until the tragic death of drummer Charles Gocher in 2007. Since then, Bishop has released a number of successful solo albums, perhaps most notably 2009’s The Freak of Araby, a tribute to Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid that is equal parts surf rock and traditional Middle Eastern music.
The majority of Bishop’s music, both with Sun City Girls and as solo musician, has featured a heavy influence from world music, especially musical forms from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. His most recent album, this year’s The Tangier Sessions is perhaps his rawest music to date. It uses only the sound of a single guitar.
Bishop’s guitar playing is absolutely stunning from a technical point of view, yet it never sounds stiff or boring. This is not an academic exercise intended to perfectly recreate the traditional music of some exotic locale. Bishop isn’t afraid to stray from tradition, particularly if his deviations come from a place of genuine emotion and self-expression. The music is often hypnotic — mystical even, and it is almost cinematic in the way it opens up entire landscapes using nothing but sound.
Those who are familiar with Sir Richard Bishop only through Sun City Girls will probably be surprised at how inviting his solo material is. While Sun City Girls had a penchant for being open hostile towards its listener, Bishop’s solo work is surprisingly restrained and even inviting. That isn’t to say the music isn’t experimental. It is still just as uncompromising as ever, but it seems weird by accident rather than design. It’s music that might require the listener to meet it halfway, but this isn’t because it doesn’t want to be appreciated.
Sir Richard Bishop will also be joined by two equally talented and interesting experimental musicians, Jozef Van Wissem and Tashi Dorji, as well as the never disappointing Samuel Locke Ward.