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Guitarist comes home to lead summit in Ann Arbor

of the Oakland Press

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Bill Kirchen is best known for his hot electric guitar playing, both with Commander Cody & his Lost Planet Airmen and now as a solo act.

So what’s he doing with a bunch of folk festival and club gigs on his touring itinerary?

“Let’s face it — that’s just what’s happened to folk music over the years,” explains the Ann Arbor native. “And more to the point, the stuff we’re playing is exactly what folk music is — traditional forms from a few decades before that, if we’re not duplicating, they’re at least informing what we do.

“I always tell people I’ve always been a folk musician — I just play too loud and too fast to be called one.”

These days Kirchen is mostly showcasing his latest album, “Word to the Wise,” which features guest appearances by Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, Paul Carrack and longtime pal Commander Cody (George Frayne). But this weekend he brings his band home to be part of An Electric Guitar Summit, jamming with Blackie & the Rodeo Kings’ Colin Linden, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan sidewoman Cindy Cashdollar and fellow Ann Arbor icon George Bedard. The Summit concept was launched at the annual Folk Alliance convention in Memphis, and Kirchen is confident it will also fit well at the Ark, which he knows from its days as a non-electric venue.

“We learn a certain amount of things that have to be learned, and here’s a lot of common ground rock ‘n’ roll and blues and swing that everybody can play pretty much on the spot,” Kirchen, 62, says. “I’ve played with all these people, and it’s always a great experience. We’ll just draw from the bag of Americana and see where it takes us.

An Electric Guitar Summit, featuring Bill Kirchen, Colin Linden, George Bedard and Cindy Cashdollar, takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $30. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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