For this Acoustic Guitar Session in Place, Brooklyn, New York–based guitarists Cameron Mizell and Charlie Rauh perform “Local Folklore,” the title track from their upcoming duo album on Destiny Records.
Mizell and Rauh began writing the music for the album before the pandemic began, and as the metro New York area entered lockdown, certain extramusical elements began to suggest a cohesive set of pieces. “Instead of a constant hustle, we got to know our neighbors and neighborhoods better, and that spoke to the theme of this album,” says Mizell. “I wrote ‘Local Folklore’ one day while looking out the front window of my house, watching the neighborhood buzz. The melody happens to use eleven notes of the chromatic scale—I didn’t do that on purpose—but to me it reflects the diversity of all these different folks’ history and experiences coming together to function as a community.
Rauh adds, “That was a mutual theme for both of us—the context of community, family, friends, history. My older sister and frequent collaborator, Christina Rauh Fishburne, has been working on a novel which incorporates elements of small town community/deep personal relationships. We both read early drafts of the story and composed some of the music inspired by her characters. Along with the new music, we arranged one of each of our older tunes that we felt matched the concept of personal experience, community, family, and storytelling.”
In the video—and on the bulk of Local Folklore—the duo plays a pair of Collings guitars with notably contrasting voices, Mizell a C100 with East Indian rosewood back and sides and Rauh a Parlor 1 S with mahogany back and sides. The duo found that their voices paired together remarkably well for recording purposes. Rauh says, “As individual players, we gravitated towards these guitars for very specific reasons. I play very lightly, and tend to favor legato left hand and hybrid picking for articulation. The Parlor 1 S allows me to be as subtle and light with my attack as I want, while also projecting a full and round tone.”
Mizell elaborates, “I definitely dig into the guitar a lot more than Charlie, and the C100 tolerates that very well. When they’re recorded, the tonal differences of these guitars make mixing really easy because they occupy different sonic spaces—the Parlor tends to have a darker, woodier tone in the mid and low midrange, while the C100 has a punchy low end and brighter, snappier mids. The guitars kind of have an opposites-attract relationship—in the same way as our playing.