Guitarist and singer. Recorded numerous albums on the Windham Hill label. His CDs are usually found under new age, when in fact, they derive more from folk and jazz. Often worked with his friend, bass guitar player Michael Manring.

Hedges' modus operandi was much broader than a circusy two-handed hammering technique (Stanley Jordan, Van Halen). He used new tunings and guitars that allowed him to sound like...well...usually two deft guitarists and a bassist. Intricate rhythms, percussive attacks, and 100% less cheese than his Windham Hill labelmates made him a good crossover artist for the label.

Discography:

  • Breakfast in the Field (1983)
  • Aerial Boundaries (1984)
  • Watching My Life Go By (1985)
  • Live on the Double Planet (1987)
  • Taproot (1990)
  • The Road to Return (1994)
  • Oracle (1996)
  • Michael Hedges died in Dec 1997 in an auto accident. The obligatory posthumous release is Torched (1999).

    To hear Michael Hedges play is to be impressed. To see him play is to be dumbfounded. Some folks would say that music can be sufficiently experienced aurally and that the visual perception of the performance is irrelevant.

    Li Kao casts a baleful glance at the McCoy v. Hatfield crowd bickering about "Live" and "Studio" versions of recordings.

    In the case of Mr. Hedges, I would disagree with this assessment. Give a good listen with just your ears. Follow up with an ear/eye tag team of the performance for a good example of the justification of the existence of the word "gestalt."

    Now, having recommended a course of action, I have to admit that unless you live in a Peter F Hamilton universe or are shuffling off your Mortal Coil in the near future, your only timely avenue for this experience is likely to be a video recording. As an extension to Michael Hedge's discography, it should be noted that a video entitled "The Artist's Profile: Michael Hedges" (posthumously produced, as was Torched) is available from the Hedge's Estate nomadland.com website.

    Li Kao steeples his hands together, close his eyes and begins a droning litany.

    Therein, please find contained: the finest reading of Jabberwocky and best impression of the JubJub bird that this reporter has experienced; thrilling headgear that would do John K proud; and personal revelations regarding Michael's secret Ch'i powers.

    It contains some pretty nifty guitar performances as well.

    Michael Hedges used fast and furious hammer ons, percussive body taps and a superbly energetic two-handed style to create an almost orchestral impression, both live and in the studio. He demonstrated a fabulous empathy with the guitar and also played the harp guitar (a very rare animal) with equal verve and passion. It is no surprise that his music is frequently described as New Age or ambient, as it has a Zen-like drive in the chords, yet the notes he plays are relaxing and spiritually uplifting.

    He had the rare ability to make a single note hang in the air, something which is noticeable on several vinyl recordings. On first listening to him, I was amazed that this was one man playing one guitar. He makes enough music for two people. My only regret is that I never had the chance to see him play live.

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