Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 26

I like to think that the jazz language comes
out in everything I do, but I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a jazz guitarist. I've found that
sometimes if I commit to a genre in my head,
I'll be missing a big part of my playing, so I
love the idea of throwing country licks into
jazz songs or jazz lines into rock songs. I try
to just place the right sound in the right spot,
and it's not always within the lines of the genre
I'm playing.
Did you have a full academic training?

I did go to school for jazz at the Jacobs School
of Music at Indiana University, and was lucky
enough to study with the late David Baker,
as well as guitarist Cory Christiansen. "Real

Things" and "Where is My Mind" have a
lyrical folk-rock vibe. Did your Midwest
roots contribute to this approach?

I think it's probably a combination of the
Midwest influence, and also a love for '60s rock
and folk music. Even before I played guitar,
I remember my dad listening to The Band,
Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys.
I have always had a very deep love for strong
melodies and beautifully written songs.
Does your main guitar have a humbucker
in the neck slot?

Yes, there's a Bill Lawrence mini humbucker
in the neck and a Joe Barden in the bridge. I
mainly stay in the neck position, though. The
guitar was built by Kevin Heffernan.

CHARLIE
BALLANTINE

What were your other guitars, effects,
and amps on Where is My Mind?

Midwest Expressive

B

efitting a guitarist from America's
heartland, Charlie Ballantine's mixes
jazz, folk-rock, surf/instro, blues, pop, and
country into a simmering pot of guitar sound
and style. His instrumental work is beautiful
and complex, ranging from melodic journeys
to raging heavier sounds. Charlie's latest CD is
Where is My Mind?, a strong album that marks
him as a young player to watch.

You move between styles so fluidly.
Where did that come from?

I think it comes from a combination of being open to all styles of music and listening
to guitar players who can't be categorized by
genre, such as Danny Gatton, John Scofield,
and Julian Lage. I also spent a lot of time in
Nashville when I was younger. It was always
amazing to see musicians playing country
music on Broadway during the day, then the

same cats jamming on jazz and blues at night
in the clubs.
Your eclectic list of influences include Bill
Frisell, John Scofield, Roy Buchanan, Wes
Montgomery, and Jimi Hendrix.

Frisell and Scofield were really important
in my development as a guitarist because I
heard them at a time when I was trying to be a
serious bebop player. Both have such a unique
take on jazz, and hearing them definitely
helped me to search after my own voice. Being
from Indianapolis, I grew up listening to Wes
Montgomery, and his style, technique, and
sound are what set me on a path to learn more
about jazz. And as far as Jimi goes, I'm still
hearing things on the Band of Gypsys record
that make me take my pedals out and try to
emulate a cool effect he was getting. He was
truly a master of sounds.
Your jazz roots are evident on "Hallways."

VINTAGE GUITAR

26

January 2018

I played primarily through my Fender '65
Deluxe Reverb reissue. I had several pedals
- MXR Carbon Copy delay, TC Electronic
Flashback delay, Hall of Fame reverb, Ditto
looper, Hotone Harmonic pitch shifter, Boss
tremolo, and Rat distortion. Also, to get a different texture on some of the layered tracks, I
used a '58 Strat which definitely had a different
vibe - very old-school rock sound.
Describe your picking technique. Do you
use a thumbpick and fingers?

I have a pretty weird right-hand technique,
actually. I use a flatpick, but also pick with my
middle and third finger, sort of in the same
style as Danny Gatton. It comes from growing
up learning Chet Atkins and Merle Travis
songs, then being thrown amongst Charlie
Parker bebop-heads in college. I had to figure
out how to use a pick and play fast 16th notes.
What's next for you?

We're on tour with Where Is My Mind? I'm
always thinking of the next project, but also
trying to enjoy where we are in the moment.
My band sounds amazing, so the only thing
I keep thinking about on the horizon is a
live album. Musically, we're in a really good
place. - Pete Prown


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