To guitarist Todd Clouser, Kurt Cobain was a folk artist — and he’s not sorry the notion might seem far-fetched. He is, however, whimsical about his pigeonhole.The first of Clouser’s three albums to be released this year, “20th Century Folk Selections,” comprises what he calls “reimagined” versions of favorite songs from his youth. Cobain’s “All Apologies,” Neil Young’s “Needle andamp; the Damage Done” and the Beastie Boys’ “Gratitude” arranged as jazz and called folk is Clouser’s playful poke at the music industry.“The musicians of my childhood were Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder and the Beastie Boys,” he said last week from Brooklyn, N.Y., during a phone interview with Action. “For me, playing music is such a joy and there’s such freedom in it that I feel we’ve cheapened ourselves as listeners and as artists; as far as segmenting and subsegmenting it into these subgenres, we’re missing out as a culture and as a society. “Now there are subgenres of indie rock and subgenres of avant-garde jazz. Come on, let’s just listen to music. I think it comes from the desire to market things. A little pushback against that is the whole theory of the record.”Clouser grew up a rock ’n’ roller in Minnesota, learned guitar and discovered King Crimson and Frank Zappa as a late teen, took up jazz at Berklee School of Music and moved to Baja, Mexico, after the White House took an extreme turn to the right.When he tours the United States, Clouser, and his band, Love Electric, schedules performances in the Upper Midwest, Denver, New York, San Francisco and Tahoe.“Todd and his group are one of the best bands to ever play at Moody’s Bistro or The Up andamp; Down Club,” Moody’s owner JJ Morgan said. “I was really blown away.”Love Electric, a quartet that includes horn player Brian Allen, will perform Friday and Saturday in Moody’s at Truckee. Today, for a $5 cover charge, the Divided Sky’s Brian Levy will use a crowbar to squeeze patrons into his second-story venue in Meyers at South Shore.It will be the third Tahoe appearance in a year for Clouser, who said he enjoys a simple lifestyle in Mexico, where he teaches children music, visits his town’s one jazz club, Havana’s, and writes songs.“You can lose an ear for simple melody if you are playing a lot and get lost in your own head,” Clouser said. “There is a certain amount of unlearning that I think I have to practice.”Each of Clouser’s 2012 albums will have a theme, and the second comprises all originals and will be released in June. Last week, Clouser was in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was recording the third CD, a collection of “dance-rock-jazz” tracks with guest artists trumpeter Steven Bernstein and drummer Billy Martin of Medeski Martin andamp; Wood.“It’s a lot of work, but the music is written in such a way a lot of people are able it assimilate and enjoy it. It’s not painstaking. We can all express ourselves. We celebrate that everybody has their unique voice.”
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