A brilliant, poignant farewell to a great artist as well as a showcase for two great artists, “The Things We Used To Do: Solos & Duets” is a generous documentary featuring the work of guitarists Jack Rose and Glenn Jones, who have both, along with a few others, have carried on the mystical-mythical blues of John Fahey into a new era. Rose died while this was in final production, and so stands as a worthy final testament as well as to vibrantly daring acoustic music.
Shot in a minimally furnished loft in Brooklyn, the duet section features Rose on Lap Steel guitar and Jones on acoustic steel string for two songs. The first, and best, “Linden Avenue Stomp,” is moody but gentle-hearted, and features stunning lap slide from Rose.
Each is given time alone in the loft for a solo set. Rose’s nine songs blister with inspired fingerpicking, but have an aura of reflection and melancholy of which the former Pelt guitarist was a master. Of the nine songs, “Revolt,” “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” and “Song For the Owl” are the most jaw-dropping.
Glenn Jones’ solo set shows why his recent recordings have been so highly praised. There is an almost causal sense of history evoked in “Barbeque Bob in Fishtown” and “1337 Shattuck Avenue, Apartment D,” his waltzing tempos covering much emotional ground.
The DVD also offers two short solo sets recorded live at Plays and Players in Philadelphia in the spring of 2009, shortly before Jack Rose’s death. Jones set has more bite, the brilliant “Keep it 100 Years” being the highlight. Rose is equally effective, but there is an extra melancholy to tracks like “Luck in the Valley” that might hint at health issues. There is also included a short interview with Byron Coley.
For over two hours, “The Things We Used To Do: Solos & Duets” gives us the music and aura of two of the greatest acoustic and steel string guitarists of the last twenty years. Jack Rose and Glenn Jones are showcased perfectly: alone or together, with nothing around them but space and their instruments. This is a guitar lesson, concert, celebration, and eulogy, and one lovingly detailed DVD that you should not miss. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (4 August, 2010)