The Squid's Ear Magazine

Gregg, J. J. / David Van Auken: Lunar Prairie [CD w/ DOWNLOAD] (IntangibleCat)

After meeting through mutual esteem of their individual SoundCloud presences, these Oregon string players met to develop their compellingly engaging work in rehearsal, David Van Auken's guitar arrangements the perfect canvas for the sitar melodies of J.J. Gregg; after touring together they went into the studio for this album's 8 tracks, plus two live recordings.

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J.J. Gregg-sitar

David Van Auken-guitar

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Label: IntangibleCat
Catalog ID: cat-25
Squidco Product Code: 34611

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Resonant House in Salem, Oregon except tracks 6 and 8 which were recorded live at Minto Island Growers' Farmstand.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Drawing from the Fahey school of finger picking, David Van Auken's unadorned guitar arrangements create an apt canvas for J.J. Gregg's beautifully fluid sitar melodies, evoking a certain joy that permeates the duo's stellar debut album, Lunar Prairie.

The members of Lunar Prairie met on SoundCloud of all things. David Van Auken, checking out some Indian Classical music, stumbled on JJ Gregg's sitar recordings whereupon JJ discovered his interest and really liked some of David's solo tracks.

As JJ describes it: "We got together a couple times in the summer of 2018. We came up with some interesting material, but things hadn't quite clicked to pursue a full scale collaboration. It was in those early days that we laid the groundwork for "Line of Totality", the first track on the new album. We kept working on our individual projects, but kept in touch. David's invitation to work on one of those long lost tunes came in 2022 as he finished up his debut album release, American Harmony (on Debacle Records). David's tracks were all recorded and I added the new sitar material in the studio. A new live version of this song, "Enchain", features on the new Lunar Prairie album."

After finishing "Enchain" in the studio, David suggested that they write some new material together. As part of JJ's PNW tour to support the release of his 2022 album, re-cycling, David opened up for a few of his shows and we started performing together at those shows as well, adding new songs along the way. "We were having a lot of fun, crafting a sonic landscape unlike one we had experienced before. We garnered a fantastic audience response...we had momentum," says JJ.

JJ and David started recording 'Lunar Prairie' in January of 2023 in JJ's home studio in Salem. Some of the material they had written or refined in earlier rehearsals and some they worked on in the studio. Many of the tracks required a lot of development and rehearsal, while a couple tracks coalesced almost immediately. David experimented extensively with different guitars on different tracks, the most unusual found on the slide guitar of The Tidal Record.

After about eight sessions, they had most of the material for the album. Not quite satisfied with a few recordings, JJ and David recorded the whole performance at Minto Island Growers Farmstand in Salem in August 2023. From that show, the final two tracks were ready, "Somnambulance" and "Enchain"."-Intangible Cat

Artist Biographies

"A dynamic yet meditative sitar player, J.J. Gregg performs improvised and pre-composed music. With over a decade of hands-on training in India, J.J. immerses western experimental and jazz music into the traditional world of the sitar. He has performed on the sitar in India, Japan, Thailand, and throughout the U.S.

Born and raised in rural Illinois, J.J. spent his teenage years performing and recording experimental rock music. In the year 2000, J.J. moved to Pune, Maharashtra, India to attend a study abroad program and met internationally renowned sitar player Ustad Usman Khan. For the past twenty-one years, J.J. has studied sitar and South Asian Classical Music under Khan's guidance at Naad Mandir in Pune, India. He returned to India seven more times to study with Khan, most recently in December 2018.

In 2016 J.J. Gregg teamed up with dancer Peter de Grasse to create 'Malkauns Meditation,' a collaborative performance based on improvisation in contemporary dance and South Asian Classical Music. The piece premiered at Whitman College in 2017, and they performed together in 2018 at both the Seattle International Dance Festival's 'Art on the Fly' and the UNESCO affiliated World Dance Congress in Mumbai, India.

Just released in August 2022, JJ teams up with tabla player Pavan Kanekal on the concept album 're-cycling'. Recent solo sitar albums include, 'in delicate balance,' in 2020 and 'opening up,' released in April 2018. In December 2021, J.J. Gregg and poet Sherman released their collaboration 'Hell might be a place,' which combines poetry, sitar, and improvisational percussion and hearkens back to J.J.'s many years as an experimental rocker and recording artist.

J.J. Gregg lives in Salem, Oregon where he teaches private and group sitar lessons. In addition to his years of study at Naad Mandir in India, J.J. Gregg holds a BA in Mathematical Economics from Colorado College and a Masters of Education from University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to performing and teaching, J.J. continues to increase productivity in his organic garlic patch and front yard garden with the help of his curious (and hungry) toddler."

-J.J. Gregg Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"David Van Auken is an Oregon-based guitarist and filmmaker who's studied early-American acoustic music for over a decade.

His original compositions grasp at old traditions, conjuring the familiar while evoking landscapes for the future.

David's work in documentary film originated during his studies in cultural anthropology and continues to approach subjects with an ethnographic lens.

David has performed in venues throughout the Portland, Oregon area and beyond. His music has been featured on radio programs around the globe, including NPR WBUR Boston, WVKR New York, KEXP Seattle, KCUR Kansas City, and more!

His short documentaries have screened at several film festivals and theaters throughout the United States."

-David Van Auken Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Line Of Totality 4:55

2. Tidal Shift 3:43

3. Eagle Moon 3:15

4. Slow Rebound 4:55

5. Shadow Ellipse 4:23

6. Somnambulance 3:49

7. Lunar Prairie 2:14

8. Enchain 4:43

9. The Tidal Record 3:19

10. Astral Clarity 4:11

Related Categories of Interest:

Rock and Related
Compositional Forms
Duo Recordings
Avant Folk, Etc.
Stringed Instruments
Guitarists, &c.
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
New in Rock Forms
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