Three Lobed Recordings issued a statement over the weekend that Philadelphia-based acoustic guitarist Jack Rose passed away over the weekend of a heart attack; he was 38 years old. Rose was self-taught and made a name for himself originally as the guitarist in the band Pelt in the 1990s, but eventually went his own way. Of the new brand of American acoustic guitarists, Rose was different. He had not only absorbed the styles of players such as Robbie Basho and John Fahey, as have others since the early part of the 21st century, but was obsessed with traditional ragtime, blues, country, and jazz styles from the 1920s through the early 1940s and incorporated them into a physical but fluid style on six-string, 12-string, and lap-steel guitars that also employed formal Indian classical music.
His two best known albums, Raag Manifestos (2004) and Kensington Blues (2005), appeared on the VHF imprint, and his most recent recordings, Dr. Ragtime and Pals (2008, Beautiful Happiness), Jack Rose and the Black Twig Pickers (2009, VHF), and I Do Play Rock and Roll (2008, Oscillation III), were all critically acclaimed. Much of Rose's work appeared on limited-edition vinyl runs before being issued later on CD. By all accounts, he was a contradictory persona, being a large man who looked like he could snap the neck off a guitar with a couple of fingers, contrasted by the way he played: with intricacy, genuine warmth, and home-made elegance, and of course a rather stunning virtuosity. He was a visionary who simply never thought of himself that way. Below are two video examples of Rose in action.
Photo credit: Dan Cohoon