With a unique blend of acoustic folk, jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass and the avant-garde, New Haven, CT duo Prester John has a sound that is entirely their own. Formed in 2008 by underground guitar-hero Shawn Persinger, Prester John also showcases the musical talents of David Miller on mandolin and harmony vocals.
Taylor Guitars’ Wood and Steel once wrote, “Persinger has defined his career by playing hard-to-define music.” One minute you’re hearing a pop/rock song in the tradition of Cat Stevens or Jack Johnson, the next you’re listening to music that could have been composed by Stravinsky or Frank Zappa. When it comes to traditional and mainstream styles Prester John’s authenticity is also difficult to match; their bluegrass repertoire sounds straight out of Appalachia (no doubt due to Persinger’s West Virginia roots) and their swing tunes recall the bygone days of The Hot Club of France. The ease and flexibility they display traversing and transcending genres is practically unheard of in this day and age (if ever).
Prester John’s latest CD, “Desire for a Straight Line” focuses on the instrumental side of their repertoire. 16 catchy and unique compositions, this music is both challenging and accessible, a rare combination in modern instrumental music. For fans of vocal tunes Prester John is already at work on the follow up to “Desire…” a 16 song, all vocal recording, which also showcases their instrumental virtuosity. Of course you can always hear Prester John vocal performances at every live concert.
“This duo started with a backlog of Shawn’s songs but the future of our sound is wide open,” says Miller. “We both have an interest in different types of music and we also have the ability to play many styles. Whether it’s the simplicity of a two and four backbeat or the complexity of an atonal melody. Nothing is dismissed.” It is that eclectic taste and skill that makes Prester John a force to be reckoned with.