When I phoned Gary Lucas this week he was right in the middle of renewing his Forward subscription. “I’m a religious reader,” he punned effortlessly. He also had his cell phone pressed to his other ear, waiting to buy concert tickets. It comes as little shock that the prolific composer, songwriter, guitar legend and musical Renaissance man is a consummate multitasker.
Over the past 30 years, Lucas has collaborated with everyone from Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and Nick Cave to Bob Weir, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg and, perhaps most famously, avant-bluesman Captain Beefheart. His music runs the stylistic gamut from blues to country to jazz to classical. (“Each to his own taste. And I’ve got very catholic taste, in the small ‘c’ sense of the word.”) He’s been called “the thinking man’s guitar hero” by The New Yorker and “the greatest living guitar player” by cognitive psychologist and record producer Dan Levitan. In the last year alone, Lucas has performed in China, Europe, Cuba, Croatia, the Canary Islands, and all across the United States, in support of one or another of his seemingly endless array of musical projects.