Nixon Portrait Series: Blake Mills
The elevator pitch on Blake Mills is that he's the best guitarist of his generation. At least Clapton says so, and he's something of an expert on the subject. The problem with such a distinction (humbling as it might be) is that it actually sells Blake a bit short. It's true, he's a once in a lifetime, pick-your-jaw-off-the-floor talent, but he's more than a virtuoso guitar wiz—he's a confident bandleader, a soulful singer and a careful curator of lost classics.
On Saturday, Blake and his band of A-list session musicians ripped through a repertoire of stone-cold hits from Conway Twiddy, Patty Griffin and Joe Tex, transforming San Francisco's The Chapel into something more like Sunday morning than Saturday night. But it was the handful of songs from Blake's latest LP, Heigh Ho, that separate him as more than a skilled side-man stepping out. On the fragile but forceful, Fiona-Apple assisted "Don't Tell All Your Friends About Me," his two voices—the one through his body and the one through his guitar—suggest a bottomless-ness to Blake's presence that make you think of the last time you saw a giant in jeans walk across the stage. And if you'll ever see one again.