In 2015, intrepid guitarists Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker issued their first album of guitar duets, Land of Plenty, after developing their mutual dialogue over a monthlong residency at Chicago's Whistler. Two years later, SpiderBeetleBee reveals their shared instrumental conversation evolving into an intuitive, wonderfully imaginative musical language. Opener "The Grand Old Trout" juxtaposes American Primitive with English folk, as conversations and side conversations emerge, fade, and change shape to return as altogether other schemas.
Most will know Ryley Walker from 2015's breakthrough Primrose Green and recent follow-up Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, all jazz-folk vibes for Jansch and Martyn fans. However he maintains a parallel career, anchored in the new American Primitive scene. Partnering with fellow Chicago musician Bill MacKay, 2015 saw the release of live LP Land Of Plenty.
SpiderBeetleBee by Bill MacKay & Ryley Walker After enough time as a social being, it's no sin to prefer the company of certain kinds of friends to others — friends with whom it's easy to connect even after long stretches apart, friends who help you forget everyday life's most recent insult, friends (why not say it?) who don't ask too much of you or your time. It may be a stretch to speculate that that's the kind of friend Chicago guitarists Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker have found in each other, but it is the kind of companionship their new album offers to its listeners. Like the duo's 2015 debut recording, SpiderBeetleBee showcases an array of styles, techniques and instruments without coming across as showy or disjointed.