If you surf the web and scan the blogosphere with enough regularity, you’ll find chat-box commentary from testosterone-addled mooks professing that women are incapable of being great guitarists. I’ve read this hogslop so many times I’m convinced that ignorance should be defined as institutionally sanctioned stupidity.
Patty Larkin certainly heard it enough times over the course of her long career and, even though she’s disproved it with every single note she’s ever played on every album she’s released, she found it necessary to find some equally, differently and exquisitely gifted women and compile them in a 2005 collection she titled La Guitara. Of course, even as Larkin defended her gender to make a valid point, her own work has long stood as a monument to incredibly textured guitar playing, intuitive songcraft and brilliant lyrical sensitivity.
As if La Guitara wasn’t clear evidence of Larkin’s generosity of spirit, her 25th anniversary release from last year, appropriately titled 25, featured the title number of Larkin songs and a corresponding number of her favorite artists — including Shawn Colvin, Bruce Cockburn, Rosanne Cash, Suzanne Vega, Chris Smither and many others — accompanying her on re-recordings of favorites from her own catalog.
It was an inventive way to look back at Larkin’s incredible catalog (if you don’t know Regrooving the Dream or Red=Luck, your life is incomplete) while honoring her favorite artists and their contributions to her musical accomplishments. That might seem an odd way for an artist to gear their retrospective after a magnificent quarter century, but Larkin is like few other artists. It’s more like Patty Larkin threw a 25-year party to tribute her music and she finally found a night where her best friends could stop in for a song.Larkin’s shows are celebrations of song, guitar and voice coming together in perfect unison with a perfect blend of skill and humility. Patty Larkin would never tell you that she’s a great guitarist, but she’ll show you all night long.
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