Scott Huckabay, The Galactic Center, Feb. 9

When Scott Huckabay stepped foot into Solar Culture Gallery, he said he was drawn to the energy of the space next door. So Steve Eye, the building's caretaker, gave the thumbs-up, and the show was moved to the Galactic Center. The audience sat on provided cushions on the floor.

Getting started, Huckabay gently tapped his bead-filled acoustic guitar. He then licked one of his fingers and slid it along the guitar body, creating a squeaky sound resembling a dolphin's vocalization. This sound would conveniently tie into the loosely woven narrative throughout the show, involving a man who swam with dolphins. Although the brief intro may have been discordant to the average listener, Huckabay then ran a violin bow across the strings—and the performance turned majestic. From the depths of the ocean, we were launched into the stratosphere with full-tilt acoustic fury.

I've never seen Huckabay's equal on acoustic guitar. It's as if he found the guitar in the wild when he was young, and never having seen anyone use such a thing, he invented his own way of producing sounds. While there's an undercurrent of classical training in Huckabay's playing, he doesn't just think outside the box—the box doesn't exist.

Some of his more-modern techniques included two-handed fret-tapping, looping and using an EBow. The stuff that blew my mind included approaching the fret board over the top for string-bending, -plucking and -strumming from every possible angle—including on the headstock itself. He also kicked the guitar while a bell was wrapped around his ankle for extra rhythmic emphasis. Most impressive was his ability to completely change the tuning of the guitar on the fly, while in the middle of playing a song.

To close the show, he placed the guitar on the floor. While practically mounting it, he rubbed rocks and crystals along the strings to create eerily comforting soundscapes. It was a performance that impossibly—and beautifully—meshed elements of folk, rock, pop and classical music.

The intensity, even during the quieter moments, was palpable. Witnessing someone merge with an instrument in such an unprecedented way was transformative. Huckabay is indeed a musical shaman.


More by Mel Mason


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