Renowned finger guitarist Duck Baker had the most humble of beginnings: He wrote sardonic articles and record reviews for an alternative newspaper. Although he's still a critic and a writer, Baker isn't afraid to put down the pen and play some. His bio boasts that his repertoire includes the entire history of jazz music, from ragtime to bebop to free improvisations. He's also fluent in conventional sounds such as gospel, blues and Appalachian music. Since 1976, Baker's released nearly 20 solo records, written 10 books and appeared in a number of instructional guitar videos. Acoustic Guitar magazine hailed his 1997 release, "Spinning Song," as "one of the best guitar records ever, by anybody." The talented Duck returns to the small pond Friday, Dec. 28, at 8 p.m. at Ashland Coffee & Tea. $8. 798-1702.