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Erich Avinger: Poets, Misfits, Beggars and Shamans

A strong hint of early Pat Metheny Group runs through part of this offering by Austin-based guitarist Erich Avinger. After a spirited opening duet with drummer Mambo John Treanor, the band kicks into a Watercolors/American Garage vibe, with pianist Doug Hall conjuring up inevitable comparisons to Lyle Mays. It’s not until Avinger stomps on his overdrive/sustain box, nearly five minutes into the tune, that he veers away from Metheny mode. Yet in those moments of easy octave leaps, scalar runs and singing legato abandon he begins to summon up another Austin guitar slinger, Eric Johnson.

Avinger’s inherent bluesiness comes out on the relaxed waltz number “Ruined” and the suitelike “Morning Light,” a graceful ballad that segues to a funk section and gradually builds to a hair-raising crescendo with Avinger unveiling his nastiest grunge tones before a rock-hungry audience at the Elephant Room in Austin.

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