If you remember seeing Nine-8ths Irish at the Cityfolk Festival a few years back, you were privy to the superb picking of Northern California guitarist Kathy Barwick.
This year, her self-produced CD In My Life arrived. It's a beauty, melding primary influences in her music such as country, bluegrass and traditional Irish music with a bundle of finely crafted ideas: a gorgeous waltz by Swedish guitarist and composer Roger Tallroth, the Irish tune Poll Ha'Penny done on dobro with bluesy Irish whistle from Bo Bowen, Maybelle Carter's My Native Home sung with fiddler Samantha Olson, and Fiddlin Arthur Smith's Florida Blues which features mandolin from the legendary Roland White. The spirit of White's guitar playing brother Clarence (another core influence) seems to hover over the whole CD. Bluegrass Unlimited was equally impressed by the album.
Her style has been shaped in part by her early experience playing banjo. She's been performing and teaching guitar for decades, specializing in a style called "crosspicking". Acoustic Guitar recently showcased Kathy explaining her technique on their website. She is also a regular contributor to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, a magazine devoted to furthering the art of flatpicking guitar and guitarists specializing in flatpicking techniques.