Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

lilting guitars

Last night my little brother and I went to a restored small historic home in McKinney's Chestnut Square to hear an evening of finger-picking style guitar. The two guitarists were local guitar instructor John Wynn and former national finger-picking champion Doug Smith, who is one of the contributors to the Grammy-winning Mancini guitar compilation a few years back.

The audience was a bit over 30 folks, sitting in comfortable chairs in a simple concert space that had once been a living room on a home. The two guitarists played instrumentals in the enjoyable finger-picking styles. This genre frequently uses covers as well as originals, but the point is not the "cover" itself, but the way in which the unique tunings and arrangements apply to the familiar melody. One of Doug Smith's solo tunes merged Schubert's "Ave Maria" with Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love", which Doug felt was an very odd but enjoyable juxtaposition, but I made a mental research note, because both songs of the medley sound to me as if they have a root in "Plaisir d'Amour", although I am not as familiar with the Schubert piece. John Wynn impressed me in that while he was in some senses the "second banana", he proved to be more banana, and not just local peel.

The crowd-pleaser was a version of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" for solo guitar. The Beatles and Elton John arrangements were also well-received. Though all the songs were good, I preferred the originals, because each artist seemed more experimental and unrestrained in tunes written to show off the melodious acrobatics that finger-style guitar-playing can involve. Here's a sample of Doug's work, to give an idea of the style:



The concert lasted a solid two hours, including a small encore. After the first set, home-made desserts and fresh fruit was served.

When the concert was over, my young friend, who is very musical and has an interest in the guitar, asked Mr. Smith if Mr. Smith had any tips for him about music. Doug smiled and said "Practice". "Practice". We enjoyed our trip to McKinney's guitar equivalent of Carnegie Hall last night.
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