Steve Gunn’s openers

 James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg will be opening for Steve Gunn Oct. 26.  Joan Shelley
James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg will be opening for Steve Gunn Oct. 26. Joan Shelley

A duo of accomplished guitarists, who record their music off the cuff over a couple of beers in an attic, will be strumming up Signal Kitchen.

James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg will be opening for Steve Gunn Oct. 26.

Elkington, although living in Chicago for the past fifteen years, originally grew up in England, while Salsburg hails from Louisville, Kentucky. Their styles reflect their origins, Elkington prefers 60’s and 70’s British folk revival while Salsburg plays a more American school of music.

“I haven’t heard a combination of those two styles much, especially in recent years anyway,” Elkington said.

Part of their success as a musical duo stems from the fact that they are both good friends and have shared interests when it comes to music. This comes across in their latest project, Ambsace, an acoustic, instrumental guitar record.

Ambsace features a series of nods to their favorite musicians, including covers of The Smiths and Duke Ellington, influences of legendary folk guitarists such as Bert Jansch and John Fahey, all while managing to create a sound that is uniquely their own.

 “We wanted to reference the stuff we like and that we feel is representative of our tastes and how we feel about music. I think we did that,” Elkington said.

 Although the record has some traditional influences, the recording process was far from traditional, recorded as it was being written, in a series of long weekends.

 “We’re really just doing it for fun, we didn’t have a label lined up or anything like that,” Elkington said. “Anytime that we were feeling any pressure we would just back off from it.”

Both Elkington and Salsburg felt it important to keep their music from feeling forced.

“It’s a much better use of our time to go and have a beer or just hangout because first and foremost we’re friends,” Elkington said, “the music thing came along as a result of us being friends.”        

Their unique approach allows them to achieve a rare blend of effortless yet methodical acoustic guitar playing.

Ambsace features playful complex guitar work that sounds as if it was tossed off in an afternoon of whiskey and laughs,” Lars Gotrich of NPR music said.

The duo has only played live together three times before this tour; so their shows will have the same spontaneous and laidback quality that the recording of Ambsace did.