In the grand tradition of This Is Spınal Tap and Fred Armisen’s fabled 1998 crashing of South By Southwest, the brilliance of Forgotten Masters is that it’s fiction that totally seems like reality.
On one side of the Vancouver-shot web series, you’ve got grizzled music obsessive Ian Leighton, whose career pinnacle has consisted of a 45-year-run on local coop radio station CFRO. Joining the guitar-obsessed “Englishman” each week are the biggest six-string legends you’ve never heard of, all thrilled to recount every minutiae of careers that have somehow had them flying under the radars of, well, everybody.
Debuting in 2021, and starring Vancouver improv vets Ken Lawson and Gary Jones, Forgotten Masters has just announced its return to YouTube for season two.
Jones once again stars as ascot-adorned interviewer Ian Leighton, a veteran DJ endlessly in awe of the visiting guitarists he meets—this despite the fact they’re playing venues like Kitsilano’s Billy Bishop Legion.
Lawson plays the endless succession of "forgotten masters,” from Delta-blues lifer J.J. “Blues Dog” Jacobs to Deutschland hard rocker Klaus Schroüder, who’s still hanging on to that time he missed out joining the Scorpions.
Need a taste of the effortless chemistry between the two? Cue up the 13-minute mark of episode one (of season one), where Schroüder lovingly takes Leighton on a tour of his axe.
After asking that the camera be trained on the top of the guitar, he notes, “You’ll zee ze tuning head is crooked. ‘Cause my G-string I have it a little bit off. I like a slightly off G-string—zat’s vun of my signature sounds if you listen closely.”
Dutifully fascinated, Leighton responds by marvelling, “It looks like—it looks like the crooked tooth of an 80-year-old man.”
Each episode concludeswith Lawson ripping into a guitar solo torn from the back catalogue of the character he’s playing, the comedian as impressive tackling classic ’70s funk as he is CBGB’s punk.
Returning to direct season two of Forgotten Masters is John Murphy, who has this to say about the project: “As a guitarist myself, I have watched countless hours of interviews with musicians talking about their gear, songwriting, etc. This is both a send-up and a love letter to those types of videos.”
Go here to follow the series, which resumes on October 13. And keep your fingers crossed that you’ll be seeing new-millennium screamo and Detroit garage-rawk installments sooner rather than later.More