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Danny Gatton’s music was pretty
well documented up until his death in October 1994. “I recorded several of
his concerts,” says the guitarist’s longtime engineer, Ed Eastman. “He was never very happy with any of the tapes. Danny much preferred working in the studio. He was a perfectionist. He liked that control.”
Self-criticism aside, control was one of the many things that Gatton was able to harness when he strapped on a guitar. But Eastman says Gatton would generally find some flaw in a performance: a note, transition, or lead that didn’t live up to his high standards. One of the rare shows that passed muster Eastman recorded at the Birchmere. The concert, now immortalized on In Concert 9/9/94, would be one of Gatton’s last; he killed himself less than a month later.
“Before he died, Danny listened to the tapes and was
very happy with this set,” says Eastman, an Annapolis native whose Big Mo Records released the Birchmere recording.
The concert is ripe with classic Gatton mischieffleet-
fingered country licks doused in bloozy soul, muscular surf-
guitar flailing, and heavy doses of “redneck jazz.” In his version of “Land of Make Believe,” Gatton even makes Chuck Mangione sound cool.
The music on the CD is presented much as it was on that night in ’94, free of the overdubs and studio gloss that made Gatton sour on his few major-label releases. Not that the attention to purity would matter if the master were still around.
“Frankly,” Eastman chuckles, “if Danny was alive today, he probably would’ve eventually found something he didn’t like about the show. He was like that.”Brett Anderson
In Concert 9/9/94 is available for $14.95 ppd. from Big Mo Records. (800) 244-6638.