Established as a cult icon decades ago as a founding-member of the Sun City Girls, Sir Richard Bishop took on his royal prefix and began touring widely as a solo artist in 2005. A master guitarist whose improvisations and compositions effortlessly reflect the shadow worlds of India, the Middle East, North Africa, and American folk, Bishop’s penchant for crossing a range of styles yields a distinctive body of highly original work.
A Bhutanese guitarist now residing in Asheville, NC, Tashi Dorji makes meticulously crafted sounds that conjure spirits, wrestle demons and tame wild beast. As beautiful as they are cerebral, his acoustic works are reminiscent of Derek Bailey`s free improvisations, flamenco and Fahey`s Americana. After a handful of cassettes on various labels, this performance celebrates the release of Dorji’s first proper album on Hermit Hut, a new label created by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and inspired by spreading word of Dorji’s talents.
Richard Bishop was a founding member (along with brother Alan) of ethnic-improv pioneers and DIY tricksters Sun City Girls, who during their 26-year reign had over 50 full length albums, plus over 20 one-hour cassettes and a dozen 7” records. That being said, Richard has spent more than a quarter century perplexing, amazing, and alienating audiences exactly as planned. In early 2005, Richard (as Sir Richard Bishop) began extensive touring as a solo artist, performing throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. Though known mostly for his acoustic playing, he has recently been performing with electric guitars in a solo setting. Bishop’s guitar explorations often reflect the shadow worlds of India, North Africa and the Middle East, and other points along the Gypsy trail, though many strange and experimental forms have crept into the live shows as of late. One can usually recognize the influences of Omar Khorshid, Django Reinhardt, Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar in his playing, though he has fused these and many other influential elements into his own unique style. Bishop was also a co-founder of the Sublime Frequencies label, whose mission is dedicated to acquiring and releasing obscure sights and sounds from Africa, India, S.E. Asia and beyond, began in 2003 and currently has over 65 releases to its credit.
Tashi Dorji grew up in Bhutan, on the eastern side of the Himalayas. Access to any music created outside the country is limited, as are most cultural options, given the geologically isolation of the country. How Dorji went from a life so remote to developing his innovative and revelatory guitar style is mind-boggling. Yearning for access to the world outside, Dorji pursued and obtained a fully-paid scholarship to a liberal arts school in Asheville, NC, in his early twenties. He’s since settled in there (save a short stint in Maine), soaking up a vast array of music, most notably the works of Derek Bailey and John Zorn. Along the way, Dorji developed a playing style unbound by tradition, yet with a direct line to intuitive artistry. His recordings feature improvisations that spasmodically grow along tangential, surprising paths. All references break loose during a composition, as Dorji keys into his own inner world.