Katie Carroll: Acoustic Eidolon

Katie Carroll

— Have you ever seen a double-necked guitar? You’ll get your chance this week when the Acoustic Eidolon duo plays at The Chief Theater. Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire, also known as Acoustic Eidolon, founded the group in 1998 after a fateful meeting through an agent three years earlier. Turns out, Joe lived down the street from Hannah and they had never met! What else could bring a studio cellist and a double-necked guitjo player together?

Joe’s unique creation – and by this I mean absolutely original as it’s the only one in the entire solar system – is what gives Acoustic Eidolon their own special sound. Joe’s invention is a double-necked guitar with fourteen strings. The second neck allows for extra bass strings and an obviously greater range than the “real six-string” we all know and love. You may hear it called a guitjo, but that does not exactly explain it; a guitjo most often refers to any old six string banjo (you may have heard bangitar too). When you talk about Joe’s instrument, you must mention it’s a double-necked guitjo – or at least the dozen-plus strings. Even more, Joe’s guitjo sounds more like a harp than your favorite Mumford & Sons’ banjo twang.

It’s all right, your brain can stop spinning! It’s not Super Bowl drinking time yet – it’s just that cool. You’re imagining an instrument that looks like a guitar with two necks, multiple strings, and sounds like a harp. I won’t judge you if this is the hardest your brain has worked since Big Bird taught you how to imagine. Here’s an easier one for you: Hannah plays a Christopher Dungey cello. Hannah’s cello is based off of an 18th century model and looks just like the one you may have seen Sara Sant’Ambrogio play at the Chief in “The Music Thief” or John Sant’Ambrogio in his recurring “Duel of the Strings” series. The cello, too, certainly has a beautiful sound, and when it harmonizes with the double guitjo, it is incomparable.

Joe and Hannah knew from the beginning that these two instruments would create gorgeous music, and they let everyone know it by their band’s name. Their Acoustic reference is clear enough, but the word Eidolon means an idealized person or thing (clear enough: the thing is music). Eidolon also means specter or phantom, and it’s that applied definition that I find all the more alluring – for how else could you be haunted by phantom orchestrations unless they were truly beautiful melodies? If fate brought them together, then a seventeen-year collaboration proves it has been an ideal journey.

Acoustic Eidolon plays the Chief Theater TONIGHT, Thursday, January 29th at 7PM. Tickets are $5 students, $15 general admission. Those can be bought online or next door at the Shoe Chalet.

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