Friday, January 25, 2013

Fullerton's blues and beyond

Sean Fullerton (Photo by Nikilette Walker)

Talking about music with Sean Fullerton gets pretty far ranging. We started with Eddie Van Halen. Got into the legend of Robert Johnson.  Compared Bob Dylan to Paul Simon. Discussed the work of John Hammond, and learned a little about creating acoustic arrangements of Beatles songs. I also found out_ and never would have guessed_ that Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” is Fullerton’s favorite song.

Fullerton is simply a music omnivore, but he knows what he likes and why.

“I listen for anything that makes the hair on my arms stand up,” he says. And as a musician he finds that experience most readily in a solo acoustic setting playing the blues.

Fullerton is back in the Coppertop Sunday starting at 4 p.m. He’ll be wielding acoustic guitars and playing harmonica through a repertoire steeped in traditional blues and a variety of folk and rock gems and a few of his own tunes.

After years of being rock-oriented, Fullerton moved more deeply into the blues after heading off as a solo performer. And the style quickly become one his audiences encouraged him to pursue.

As a guitarist he was all for it, learning the intricate little twists that, like he says, make the hairs rise on your arm.

“The stereotype is that blues is all the same old three chords,” Fullerton says. And to an extent, he agrees that there is a simple structure most blues get built on, but adds, “It’s the way you use the three chords.”

Fullerton wears his devotion to the blues on his sleeve- his forearm actually.

After meeting Robert Johnson’s grandson Steven Johnson, Fullerton learned that the blues legend’s only living relative is a painter. Johnson has a series of paintings depicting juke joint scenes, one of which is a player wearing a harmonica rack and hunched over a slide dobro. Fullerton had the image tattooed on his arm, using it as a totem of sorts, like the spirit of Robert Johnson is playing along with him.

Beatle Wood is a project Fullerton has in development with two other Beatles-loving musicians, with the aim of working up a repertoire of acoustic Beatles songs.

“The idea lets us play the acoustic songs that the Beatles didn’t play live and create arrangements of electric songs. ‘Dear Prudence’ sounds great on acoustic guitars,” he says.

Sounds hair raising.

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