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Music
 
A Bucketful of Guitar Craftsmanship
By Matt Thurber

   
   
 
Concert Preview:
 
Buckethead
 
In the Venue
(579 W. 200 South)
Tuesday, Nov. 15
Buy tickets for $15 in advance
or $17 the day of the show
through Smith’sTix at
www.smithstix.com.
 
   

It’s too bad Buckethead will most likely go down as the KFC-bucket-wearing axeman whose greatest achievement was performing another man’s songs in Guns ‘N’ Roses. Sure, he could re-create every line of “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Paradise City” without missing a note, but generally audiences didn’t “get it.” However, his short-lived run as Slash’s temporary replacement and Axl Rose’s yes man never put a creative damper on Buckethead by any stretch of the imagination. And when it comes to Buckethead, imagination drives this masked maestro to pull off some amazing feats even beyond his role as a musician.

For critics unfamiliar with Buckethead, he’s nothing more than a glorified scab who laid down a few tracks for the long-awaited Guns ‘N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy. He’s rarely seen on MTV or in music magazines. Buckethead doesn’t offer much about his background, yet he always stresses that he was born in a chicken coop and raised by chickens. It’s a strange story, but few have ever accused Buckethead of normalcy.

Maybe that unknown element is part of the reason why this mystery man, who will play Salt Lake City’s In the Venue on Tuesday, is still relatively ambiguous in mainstream circles. On the one side, he’s a virtuoso with soloing powers equal or greater to Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. However, naysayers see the bucket and automatically write him off as just another novelty act along the lines of Slipknot or Insane Clown Posse—and that’s simply not the case.

Prior to his latest release, Buckethead recorded with Viggo Mortensen (“Lord of the Rings”), Les Claypool, Mike Patton and John Zorn, among others. With so many amazing collaborations throughout his career, he still has not achieved the same successes as many of his counterparts. But nowadays, with better label representation and a growing core of fans worldwide, the masses are slowly figuring out what the buzz is all about.

Recently, Buckethead came out with a new album under the moniker Buckethead & Friends on Serjical Strike Records. Unlike any of his earlier efforts, Enter the Chicken represents a quasi-journey into a realm of world music from middle-eastern rhythms to falsetto vocal arrangements. The latest CD showcases Buckethead’s signature soloing style mixed with far-reaching, almost otherworldly soundscapes.

While not so much a conceptual album like his masterpiece Giant Robot, Enter the Chicken marks an altogether unfamiliar territory for Buckethead, with System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian producing the album and performing on several tracks. Its subject matter moderately resembles Buckethead’s Monsters & Robots when it comes to relating the story of the so-called “Chicken Messiah,” but the addition of so many different vocalists from Maura Davis to Efren Schulz (Death by Stereo) makes the album hard to nail down to a specific genre.

As the mystique associated with Buckethead has created interest in some regards, his opportunities to shine on his own have also increased as he is currently on the road on the “Disneyworld to Disneyland Tour,” stretching from Orlando to Anaheim. This year’s trek features drummer Pinchface and bassist Dan Monti playing instrumental versions of new tracks as well as the classics dating back to the Giant Robot era. Often during a live set, Buckethead will bust out a pair nunchucks and put on a martial arts act between songs. He’s also known to sample clips from “A Clockwork Orange,” move like a robot and simply stand still for minutes on end as his long fingers furiously climb up and down the fretboard.

From his contributions to American horror movie soundtracks to years of creating some of the most original, mesmerizing soloing techniques, Buckethead proves that behind the elusive white mask and under the bucket is a true guitar mastermind like no other. With grandiose visions of theme parks filled with roller coasters and carousels, Buckethead’s music takes listeners to a place called Bucketheadland where, “All your dreams and nightmares can come true.”

matt[at]saltshakermagazine.com

 

 
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