Are you ready to strum softly? Do you like your tunes hushed and languid? Can you look comfortable holding a child’s toy guitar in the presence of others? Live the embittered existence of a folk legend in the latest expansion pack for the successful Guitar Hero franchise. Pick up the authentic-feeling Gibson Monarch acoustic guitar (pending patent litigation) and pluck your way through thousands of folk classics. Featured songs include “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song),” by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, and Tom Paxton’s “Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation.” You’ll sing on subjects as diverse as pickup trucks, sparrows, the cost of battle, and gypsies.
Start as a coffee-shop crooner and travel the long, dusty road out of obscurity to singer-songwriter status. Select from genres including alt-country, freak folk, anti-folk, and the intensely difficult Irish traditional. As you gain expertise in each genre, folk bosses will test you, all with a unique power. Bonnie “Prince” Billy will turn your emotions inside out with his fragile warble and mellifluous string arrangements. Beware of Devendra Banhart’s tinctures and birdcalls. Joan Baez will attempt to steal you away from your girlfriend and install herself as your ultimate groupie. Journey back to the Newport Folk Festival of ’65 and battle Bob Dylan as he goes electric, undermining your entire sound and persona.
The Sensitivity Meter
Bare your soul and watch your compassion sensor, at the lower right, get dewy and moist. The meter has four levels.
You’re strumming so beautifully. The entire audience is bobbing their heads and thinking about relationships.
You’re putting on an OK show, but no one is buying anything from your merch table—not even the silk-screened tees with the owl on them.
The last song, about your old dog, didn’t have the effect you intended.
After the show, you’ll be packing your own equipment in the van and sleeping in it alone. Your rest will be troubled by the crushing smell of your own body odor.
Acoustic Citizen faithfully re-creates the crammed venues and festivals that you must play on the weary stretch known as “the road.”
At this little Hoboken hot spot, you’ll open for Yo La Tengo and join them onstage for a jam session later. Bonus points for sounding louder than Ira Kaplan’s feedback.
Elbow your way into the spotlight among nearly 2,000 other bands. Play well and a music rep from an ad agency will ask if you’ll license your song for a Zune commercial.
Have you sold out or are you reaching a wider audience? You’ll contemplate this in Chicago’s summer heat, playing to a musically numbed, nitrous-dazed teen audience.
Become part of folk history with an ever-expanding array of songs. Get the Peter, Paul, and Mary pack and play the March on Washington. Or, for a contemporary folk twist, download the Juno soundtrack, complete with Michael Cera and Ellen Page avatars. Max out your twee-levels and score key spots in other independent movies.
The Ultimate Unplugged Experience
(With Optional Wireless USB Device)
If you’re old enough to remember when Woody Guthrie released Dust Bowl Ballads or young enough to recall hardcore makeout sessions to Iron and Wine, Acoustic Citizen is the folk-music simulation for you. Play because you hate the government and the mess they’ve gotten us into. Or play to learn about the British miners’ strike of ’84 to ’85. From heartfelt ballads to sea shanties, your song is on the set list. We all have a modern-day minstrel inside us. Let him sing out tenderly.
Look for an additional Acoustic Citizen expansion pack, Jug Band, in early 2009.