Posted by: Billy Marsh | August 20, 2007

For Acoustic Guitar Lovers

Beyond Nature - Phil Keaggy Manzanita -Tony Rice Whiskey Before Breakfast - Norman Blake

There has been a new “100 Greatest . . .” list presented to public that categroizes the top 100 Acoustic Albums of all time. The judging criteria can be found on the website. As an acoustic guitarist, I was eager to see who made the cut and who didn’t. As we all know, the best thing about these types of lists is arguing about how our favorite ‘so and so’ wasn’t ranked high enough and then standing in shock at all the names we don’t even recognize. But, over the years I’ve tried to keep up with the folk music scene which has led me down many paths to a lot of acoustic guitar greats and even ones that ought to be more famous than they really are. However, if you’re familiar with the acoustic persona, you’ll be fully aware that most folk artists and acoustic guitar purists play for the sake of playing, thus causing fame usually to be thrust upon them rather than seeking it out with visions of grandeur in mind. Still, these are all the guys that most guitarists at heart desire to imitate and reduplicate.

Overall the list was pretty satisfying. The unofficial greatest guitarist of all time, Phil Keaggy, made the list in three spots including a solid placement at #3 with his outstanding instrumental album, Beyond Nature ( #37 Acoustic Sketches, #68 Freehand). And thanks to my good ‘ol Dad’s musical influence which is steeped in the likes of Leo Kottke, John Prine, and bluegrass greats such as Norman Blake, Doc Watson, and Tony Rice, there were many other albums on the list that I either own on LP, Cassette tape, CD, or simply know by heart somewhere in the file cabinets of my mind. For instance, I remember in my very early childhood listening to Blake’s classic album, Whiskey Before Breakfast (#10), singing ‘Old Grey Mare’ driving to the Smoky Mountains on one of our many backpacking trips. Another great memory consists of the time he took me to a famous old bluegrass music shop near Pigeon Forge, TN, where he encouraged me to buy Tony Rice’s breakthrough record, Manzanita (#29). I must say, that Rice’s singing and picking mesmerized me and to this day, he is my number one guitar hero.

Thanks Dad for instilling in me a rich musical heritage! And for the rest of you who don’t have one, what are you waiting for?! The guitar has been such a wonderful gift to the Church. See what others have done with it, let it influence you, and then use what you’ve learned for the glory of God! Not to mention, that good music is just plainly good music.


  1. Thanks son for being able to actually play the guitar instead of strum it like me! It always makes me proud to listen to you play. Coincidence maybe, but our band really played their hearts out last Sunday and you would have been proud..they actually let the lead guitar jam for a while. It was very good.

  2. Lovely to see those guitarists mentioned, they are three of my favourites. I love Tony Rices’s work with David Grisman.

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