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P. G. Six - Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites CD (album) cover


P. G. Six


Prog Folk

3.98 | 4 ratings

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4 stars There are two P.G. Six CDs in my collection: this one, and his latest ‘Slightly Sorry’ (for which he should be). This one was added on the strength of several positive reviews I’d read about Pat Gubler’s post- Tower Recordings solo work. I don’t know much of anything about his other studio releases, but between these two ‘Parlor Tricks & Porch Favorites’ is easily the better piece of work.

P.G. Six (i.e., Pat Gubler and in this case Tim Barnes) undoubtedly have some artistic influences but there aren’t any heavily apparent ones here, so for the most part the listener is left to experience (and hopefully enjoy) Gubler’s own original expressions, which is nice. For those not familiar with P.G. Six, take note that Gubler seems to take the role of independent singer-songwriter/crooner quite literally and seriously, so expect languid and pensive acoustic compositions with rather abstract lyrics, all of which are sung by Gubler himself. If you’re cool with that we can move on; otherwise, you might want to stop here and go find some prog folk with cast-iron balls like Comus or Silmaril something. Don’t forget to take your meds on the way.

This is an almost embarrassingly unassuming production, recorded on four tracks and released as album #14 on the tiny Amish Records label. The liner notes consist of a watercolor head-shot of Gubler and Barnes, a list of the instruments they play, a couple of thanks and Gubler’s contact information. That contact information consists of a post office box number in a tiny upstate New York town and Gubler’s Hotmail account. Like I said, pretty humble. Things would get better for him professionally a few years later when he signed to Drag City Records, but I can’t say the music improved with that move.

Like I explained earlier, this is all understated, slow tempo acoustic music with marginally abstract lyrics (or at least ones that seem to require inside knowledge for a full understanding of their meaning). The instrumentation is all over the place though, including harps, tin whistles, and all manner of hand drums. Gubler seems to have a large collection of exotic instruments, as he finds ways to introduce a Turkish kemance (on “Quet Fan for SK” and probably some other tracks); a ukelin (derived from the zither I believe); shakuhachi (Oriental wood flute – see “When I Was a Young Man” which seems to feature this along with the tin whistle); and one of my favorite keyboard – the archaic and unfashionable (but soul-soothing) farfisa organ.

And speaking of “When I Was a Young Man”, this is one track where a certain influence is too apparent to ignore. Gubler launches into a seventies-era Ian Anderson vocal chant that must have been inspired by him having a woodwind in front of his mouth at the time. The result is actually rather charming though, and this became one of the standout tracks on the album.

The other tune worth pointing out is the Annie Briggs cover “Go Your Way (My Love)”. Briggs sang this once as a duet with Bert Jansch, but Gubler turns it into a long, rambling acoustic lament that’s full of sad, quiet woodwinds, harps and some sort of wooden plucked string instrument (probably the ukelin), plus an extended passage of hand percussion that fills the middle portion of the song. This is a really sad tune in Gubler’s hands, and makes a good musical backdrop for a worthwhile reflective interlude on a Saturday morning while sitting on your back porch. Go ahead and try it.

I was disappointed by P.G. Six’s ‘Slightly Sorry’ release in 2007, and hope Gubler is going to work his way back to more experimental and instrumentally challenging music some time soon. But even if he doesn’t at least this album remains in his repertoire and is well worth picking up. Four stars for the instrumental variety and the inspiring tones of the music.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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