Some of the damnedest guitar you’ll ever hear


The Beads are back, which means one of the Twin Cities’ most gifted guitarists has found yet one more way to stay busy. A born-and-bred workhorse, Javier Trejo is already holding down more work than any two or three performers put together. Trejo shows up at clubs playing solo, billed as Javier Trejo & Friends, DUBsack, the Javier Trejo Trio, as a guitarist-vocalist with New Primitives…you name it. Now, he has resurrected the band that put him on the Minneapolis-St. Paul music map back in the late 1990s.

Also in the Daily Planet, read Dwight Hobbes’s interview with New Primitives’ Stanley Kipper.

The Beads’ album Ordinary Sunday People is once again available at stores and wherever Trejo plays. The album is a keeper: the kind of vintage San Francisco rock that used to be called psychedelic (which basically means a lot of high-powered guitar and weirdly poetic lyrics). Nobody plays a screaming lead better than Trejo, and Ordinary Sunday People is frontloaded with screaming, beautifully articulate leads—a fair share of it reminiscent of his hero Carlos Santana. The vocals (oh, yeah—he’s a splendid singer/songwriter, too) are rich and fluid, with sardonic lyrics.

Take “A.B.P.n’”: economic, jam-packed with feeling and very tasty guitar. The words give a perfect existential picture of a bustling nightclub from a performer’s perspective. When he does this song live, you’re treated to sheer ferocity and inspired invention as he extends the fiery solos into breathtaking forays. There’s the bluesy “Let Your Mind” and “Song for Carlos,” an eerily gorgeous tribute to Santana. In short, Ordinary Sunday People kills.

There never was a follow-up CD, because Trejo was virtually shanghaied. Stan Kipper, Chico Perez, and Joel “Family Man” Arpin of New Primitives caught a Beads gig one night at the Cabooze, pulled Trejo aside with an invitation to go Prims, and that was that.

He’s also got a solo album, Javier Trejo, released a few years ago. That album shows an easy, intimate vibe. Laid-back and freeform, with engaging nuance, its understated power irresistibly compels. “Skip To My Luke” (dedicated to his son) combines elements to come up with a light, jazzy samba that bears repeated listening (you can hear it at his Web site, “Dance of the Mountain Stream” is a spiraling jam, 90 percent improvisation, the central hook left hanging around as something like an afterthought. In the old-time spirit of the Grateful Dead (though considerably more effective), it works brilliantly.

What with all Javier Trejo’s incarnations, your best bet to figure out where and when to catch him in action is to simply go to his MySpace page, where you’ll see he’s doing more gigs than you can shake a stick at, playing some of the damnedest guitar you’ll ever hear.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.