KEITH CALMES: Surf Guitar Classics: CD

Jan 31, 2018

Keith Calmes has played Carnegie Hall and has earned multiple degrees from such prestigious schools of music as Juilliard and the University of Southern California. Further research reveals that Calmes is the creator of The Laughing Messiah, a 1980s punk fanzine that covered the Fresno, Calif. scene and reviewed the likes of MDC, the Varukers, and Bad Brains. A “real” musician with punk rock roots. Nice. He has also, I read, fulfilled opening duties for surf guitar legend Dick Dale. On this album, Surf Guitar Classics, Calmes performs iconic American songs like The Ventures’ “Walk, Don’t Run,” The Shadows’ “Apache,” and Stan Jones’s “Ghostriders in the Sky.” I love these songs and surf guitar in general, but I feel that Calmes’ approach, using a nylon-stringed, classical guitar leaves much to be desired when one is used to hearing the classic versions. I miss the reverb and tone of the original “Walk, Don’t Run” and the shitty drums that sound like the underside of a coffee can. Are Keith Calmes takes technically proficient? Yes. Nicely recorded? Absolutely. I will, however, still take the originals any day of the week. –Jon Mule (Laughing Messiah)