Marc Ribot at the Creative Alliance

Marc Ribot at the Bee-Flat concert in Bern, Switzerland, 2006.

“I don’t want to impose some agenda on a song … chops need to be in the service of meaning…” – Marc Ribot, Downbeat

Clear as truth, a resonant half-click to the left of the norm and swaddled in the succor of thoughtfulness.

This is how I and many others are beseeched by the music of Marc Ribot, born 61 years ago in the ironbound city of Newark, New Jersey.

Consider Ribot’s intimate take on John Lennon’s “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (Beatle John murdered by gun 35 years ago this week) on the album Saints, released in 2001 by Atlantic. The guitar — alone and alive via the miracle of electricity- takes all of the parts, plucking out the vocal lines while surrounding them with gauzy room to move.

Ribot’s catalogue spans nearly two dozen albums going back to 1990 — the most recent a 2014 live album at the Village Vanguard in NYC — and includes prominent session work on numerous Tom Waits albums going back to Rain Dogs.

“I like his tone and the eclectic nature of his playing. From the understated jazz he has released to the more abrasive stuff he has laid down with Tom Waits, he always fits,” said Matt Berman, a fan living in Monkton. “Someone said that your grandmother should be able to recognize your guitar playing after two notes. Ribot has that.”

This weekend, on Friday the 11th in the Holy Land of southeast Baltimore, Ribot will play a set of whatever strikes his fancy before his solo accompaniment to Charlie Chaplin’s silent film from 1921, The Kid.

The film features the young Jackie Coogan, known to boomers as the light bulb sucking Uncle Fester on TV’s Addam’s Family.

As the lustful Gomez often declared to his ravishing wife, “Tish, I love it when you speak French!”As does Ribot, who recently returned from one of his many trips to Haiti where he works to keep alive the career and compositions of Frantz Casseus (1915-to-1993) the father of Haitian classical guitar and Ribot’s teenage guitar teacher.

“I love what [Ribot] does with those twelve [unique] notes and the notes in between,” said Baltimore blues guitarist Pete Kanaras,who has a regular gig at the Cat’s Eye Pub. “His use of extended space and found sounds as dramatic devices is just magnificent. His style belongs to only him.”

Doors open at the Patterson 8 p.m. Friday with tickets $20 for Creative Alliance members and $23 for non-members. At noon the following day, also at the Patterson, Ribot will conduct a master class workshop for musicians — of any instrument — who have reached the university or professional level.

The fee is $30 for members and $35 for non-members. More information at


  1. TyC 2 years ago

    Marc Ribot is often lauded as guitarist’s guitarist, when he is truly a music lover’s guitarist. My faves by him are both versions of Fat Man Blues and The Prosthetic Cubans. I find the Cubans work showcases Marc’s understated funky side.

    Over the past few years, the Creative Alliance has showcased some of the best old and new music still travelling our fair land. Marc’s appearance is yet another testimony in the Holy Land.

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