(Blue Sky Records, CD)
Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Donohue is one of the hottest fingerpickers around. But his incredible facility on acoustic and slide guitar isn't his primary claim to fame. Donohue's got a regular gig as a member of Garrison Keillor's rock-solid "Guys All-Star Shoe Band," who perform every Saturday night on National Public Radio. If you've heard Donohue's name, chances are it's been out of Keillor's mouth. Donohue has played with the broadcast legend for a decade; he's been making great music a lot longer than that.
The guitarist recently appeared on Vermont songwriter Patti Casey's 2005 release, The Edge of Grace, contributing some of the album's tastiest guitar work. His latest solo effort, Profile, is his 10th recording. It contains a wealth of varied original compositions, showcasing Donohue's mastery of a boggling number of styles.
Donohue conjures the ghost of John Fahey on the slack-key "December Waltz," shows off killer slide chops on "Caroline," drops Blind Blake-style ragtime on "Buddy the Blues" and cakewalks his way through the Cajun-flavored tune "Risin' River" with remarkable dead-thumb guitar picking. How many fingers does this guy have, exactly?
The overused phrase "guitarist's guitarist" actually applies here. Both the late Chet Atkins and the very-much-alive Leo Kottke have offered Donohue glowing compliments. He'll make a series of rare local appearances this week - his first solo shows ever in Vermont - including Wednesday and Thursday performances at the Good Times Cafe in Hinesburg, and one at East Montpelier's Old Meeting House on Friday, March 3.
He's not too shabby a blues and jazz vocalist, either.