Today is International Women’s Day. Unfortunately, that has very little to do with guitars. For whatever reason, women do not seem to be drawn to play guitar. I don’t have official statistics, but anecdotally, I would guess that less than 10% of guitarists are female. (I am pleased to report that fully half of my students are female.)
In the past, I have featured a couple of female guitarists on this blog – notably, Macyn Taylor and Muriel Anderson. Today I give you someone that I’ve just recently discovered, Eva Beneke:
Eva was born in East Berlin and studied guitar at the Berlin University of Arts and the Franz Liszt Hochschule in Weimar where she graduated in 2007. She released her first CD, “Coming Home” in 2010.
A question for all of you women out there: Why don’t you play guitar? Or, if you do play guitar, why do you think that other women don’t?
I recently read a great blog post from Adam Rafferty which describes his process for building a set list. He also talks about the importance of melody and some of the pitfalls to avoid when composing new tunes or adding repertoire. You can read the post here.
Last Tuesday, I had the privilege of playing at the Sunderland Lions’ Music Festival along with four of my guitar students. The tune that I chose to play this year was “Dune” by Bob Evans.
Last spring, on May 1st, I got to see Bob Evans play a concert at The Earl Pub in Stouffville. At the concert, he mentioned that there was a transcription of his song “Dune” available for free on his website. On May 2nd, I started to work on the tune. It took me three months to learn the tune, and another three months before I was able to try it out at an open mic. At long last, in approximately the same amount of time that it takes to make a baby, it was ready to be presented “for real” at the festival.
Below, is the video of me playing “Dune” in Sunderland. And while it is not my best performance of the tune, I’m pretty pleased with the results. At one point, I squeezed the neck too hard and produced an awful noise that was supposed to be a chord, and later on I had a minor brain cramp where I momentarily forgot where I was going, but overall, I was happy with the result. (And the adjudicator had nice things to say too!)
So, (with apologies for the quality of the audio and video) here I am playing “Dune” at the 2012 Sunderland Music Festival:
February’s Video-of-the-Month features Philadelphia guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall. I’m guessing that he goes through a lot of strings…
While there are a lot of guitarists who incorporate “parlour tricks” into their playing, Trevor does it very tunefully with this track! Outside the Lines is from Trevor’s latest CD “Entelechy”. It is at least his third CD, but his first with CandyRat Records.
Muriel Anderson is a classical virtuoso and master of the harp guitar who, in 1989, became the first woman to win the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. In this month’s video of the month, she teaches us how to play bluegrass:
The video of the month for December is “Wandering Hands” by Owen Van Larkins. It is a very tuneful demonstration of pretty much all of the fingerstyle guitar playing techniques known to mankind – tapping, percussion, partial capo, vibrato using the capo (something I don’t recall seeing before), and both real and artificial harmonics.
Maneli Jamal is a young fingerstyle virtuoso, who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He recently played a concert at the Foster Memorial here in Uxbridge, and although I missed the concert, I certainly heard the reviews. Everyone I talked to was buzzing about this great young guitarist. So I looked him up, and this is what I found:
From his website:
Born in Iran and raised in Germany, Jamal moved to the States in his adolescence, immigrating to Minnesota before relocating to Austin, Texas until his late teens. At this time, his family was issued a deportation letter by the immigration office, and they were forced to claim refuge in Canada within thirty days of receiving the notice.
Taking literally only what they could fit in their hands, Jamal and his family arrived in Toronto after establishing their lives in Austin. It was at this time that Maneli got an acoustic guitar from his father, which has scarcely left his hands since.
“I carried it on the plane, and everywhere I went, I had it”, Jamal recalls. “For half a year, we only had what we had in our hands, and I had that cheap acoustic guitar in my hands with no case. Going through something like that, as a teenager especially, you need an outlet that can take you away from life and zone you out. That’s what the acoustic guitar did for me.”
Another product of the guitar program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Kevin Horrigan also took first place in the 2011 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championship.
Update (October 10th, 2011): Kevin was kind enough to write and provide further biographical information:
Kevin won the 2011 International Finger Style Guitar Championship in Winfield, KS, as well as the 2011 Canadian National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Kingston, ON. Kevin is the only person to have won first prize at both competitions. He graduated with High Honors from UW-Milwaukee in 2008 with a BFA in Finger-style Guitar Performance, studying Finger-style with John Stropes, and Classical with Rene Izquierdo. While it may not be immediatly apparent in his music, his favorite genres of music are Roots Reggae and Afrobeat, and his favorite band is The Fleet Foxes. Kevin is currently working on his debut record “Self Oscillation,” which will consist of 12 original compositions, including Lion’s Lament. At this point, it is an independent project. DOB: 7/21/83
Our second video-of-the-month for September is Pat Bergeson playing his Chet Atkins-style composition “Just You” at, appropriately enough, the annual Chet Atkins Appreciation Society convention in 2000.
I have no affiliation with FingerstyleGuitar.ca, except that I am on their mailing list, but I have been introduced to a number of excellent fingerstyle guitarists as a result of being on that list. September’s Video of the Month features Adam Rafferty, who is playing a show at Chalker’s Pub in Toronto on September 15th at 8pm. You can get information and tickets at FingerstyleGuitar.ca.
Here is his bio from their site:
Adam Rafferty was born and raised in Harlem. He was mugged in front of his building when he was 10. He played in a hard rock band at 12, got ripped off by a club owner on his first gig at 15, and by 18 he was a rapper on a gold record overseas.
By 19 he was playing guitar professionally and at 20 he was playing an after hours joint in Harlem on 137 street and Adam Clayton Boulevard where the bandleader would drink himself into to oblivion and regularly threaten customers with a 10 inch kitchen knife.
Adam has played the New York City subways and street corners – and played the most upscale music rooms New York has to offer such as Birdland and The Jazz Standard. He’s led his own band through Europe, produced his own albums, and played with Dr. Lonnie Smith, The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, L.A. Studio legend BennieWallace (who wrote the soundtrack for “White Men Can’t Jump”), bassist Bob Cranshaw (from the original Saturday Night Live band), Alvin Queen (drummer for Oscar Peterson), and Mike Longo (Dizzy’s pianist).
Adam’s playing is as colourful as his experiences. There is no doubt he is a first rate guitarist but, more important, he understands that with great power comes great responsibility – i.e. he understands that the greatest purpose of music is to make people smile.
(Incidentally, if you are feeling brave and want to “open” for Adam, there will be a open stage for fingerstyle guitarists immediately before the show at 6:30.)