.String Theory

kakiUSEGuitar is the teacher, and Kaki King is a star student

Recently on her Facebook page, singer-songwriter Kaki King asked fans in the greater Santa Cruz area to send her postcards so that they could be featured during her show at the Catalyst.

“I had done a project with fans in the past where we exchanged postcards,” King says. “They are such interesting objects, relics of a bygone era. A few of [them] made their way into the show, and I thought it would be really fun to be able to show postcards from the local area of each place we visit on tour.”

Fans of King’s music and shows will not be surprised to hear of the considerable visual element of Saturday’s show. In 2009, for example, she put on a guitar art show of sorts, with artists taking 15 blank guitars and creating pieces of art on these guitars, each drawing from one King’s songs for their inspiration. Her new tour features a different but still radical approach.

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“In this show, there are three things to look at: the rear projection on a gigantic surface, the projection that is mapped onto my guitar, and me performing,” King says. “There are times when I can control the visual elements through the guitar, [others] when the visuals take over, and there is even a time when the guitar starts talking to the audience directly. All of the visuals tell a story of creation, travel, and the relationship between player and instrument.”

King’s upcoming release, The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, is full of her trademark adventurous playing, with songs ranging from ominous Americana (King’s sparse notes make “Opening” feel like the soundtrack to an unknown gunslinger’s arrival in a post-Apocalyptic desert town) to ambient folktronica (“Oobleck”’s simultaneously hypnotic chords and progressive rhythms are not unlike the more subdued moments from Euphoria’s Beautiful My Child).

“I still look at the guitar like I’m a student,” King says. “The beauty of the guitar is that it always teaches me. I will always be learning how to play it, to play something different, to combine this pedal with this amp to get a new sound. It is endless. In many ways, The Neck is my homage to the power of this instrument.”

Kaki King will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $25/advance, $30/door. For more information, call 423-1338.

PHOTO: Kaki King gears up for a highly-visual show in Santa Cruz.


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