Sunday, October 15, 2006

9 Questions for Richard Gilewitz

Those who enjoy the sound of fingerstyle guitar will want to check out Richard Gilewitz, who plays at Jambalaya Wednesday, Oct. 18.“It’s an unplanned night, no set list,” said Gilewitz calling from Florida before taking off on tour. “The music I play can be anything from ‘Embryonic Journey’ to a prelude by Bach to a John Fahey tune or something I’ve written. I play a little bit of everything in the fingerstyle guitar realm and in between I tell tales of life on the road, talk about origins of tunes or maybe about how I once mailed a fingernail to Leo Kottke.” Gilewitz is currently working on a book for Mel Bay called Nylon to Steel. He wrote another called Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Workshop. “It’s basically everything I know, even a chapter on how to deal with the sound man. That’s some of the stuff I’ll do in the workshop.” The workshop he refers to is the following night, Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Arcata Music in Sunnybrae. “It will be a combination of me playing, and a Q&A session afterwards; all levels of players are invited,“ said Gilewitz.

We had our own Q&A session via e-mail...

Who are you?

My name is Richard Gilewitz and I have been playing acoustic fingerstyle guitar for 34 years. I have been fortunate to have performed in concert as well as the conducting of seminars in 48 states and 8 countries. I have also released 6 recordings and Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop Books and DVD's for Mel Bay Publications with worldwide distribution. I mention 'fingerstyle' guitar which is another way of saying I DON'T play flatpick style guitar. The pick kept falling in the hole.

Where are from?

I was born in San Diego, CA, grew up in my formative years (I made up the 'grew up' part) in New Jersey, attended high school and college in Alabama and have been a Florida resident since the late 1980's.

What do you do?

I continue to compose for the acoustic 6 and 12 string guitars along with a few other 'toys', record, tour in concert, conduct acoustic guitar camps, conduct music industry sponsored guitar 'music dealer' store events, teach privately, write for the national music publication Singer and Musician magazine, and still dig out music I couldn't play in college to take a fresh 'crack at it'.

Why do you do what you do?

For many years my pat answer was to say "I didn't want a real job". In reality I have begun to realize the absolute absolute! necessity to stay on one's toes, work extremely hard, be creative, and more than anything fight like mad to maintain something along the lines of that passion that made (probably most of us) start playing in the first place.

What are you working on?

I recently compiled my entire repertoire in every tuning for every guitar to determine with the much feared 'metronome' exactly where my tunes 'live'. In other words, having the groove is one thing but having the 'click' is another. This became apparent in recent years as I have had the fortune of playing with tremendous players and the need for them to 'tap in' is crucial for them to be able to become absorbed in the music, have no doubt, release and add the most possible. Additionally I am playing a few old tunes that accidentally got shoved into the attic and working on a few new pieces. Some by J.S. Bach, a couple of refinements of my teacher David Walberts pieces, and conjuring up a new tune or two.

What’s next?

I have an interesting instrument called a Banjitar which is a 6 string Banjo type instrument tuned and played like a guitar. Along with experimentation with that I am seeking out workable tunes with a Breedlove synthesiser guitar to see 'what my work'.

When will you be here?

Solo shows: Oct. 18th - 9pm Jambalaya - concert 707-822-4766

Oct. 19th - 6 pm Arcata Music - guitar seminar 707-822-3531


Chinese zodiac sign: The Boar

Anything else you want to add?

Many years ago I recall working for an agency and I was helping them to book dates for one of my guitar heroes as a youngster, John Fahey. I recall booking him in Eureka/Arcata area somewhere and I remember him thanking me and telling me how much he specifically enjoyed your area. I have always wanted to play there myself and with all the touring I have done for many years this apparently seems to be my first opportunity. Ya never know how the wind blows.

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