I have two solo acoustic cds coming out this year, one is all-Simon and Garfunkel tunes, and the other, all-Bob Dylan. I have also released a solo acoustic cd in the past, “Drive it Home”, a very personal record that is dedicated to the memory of my wife Deborah, and my daughter Gillian, whom I both lost in a car accident in 1998.
The obviously deep and personal reason for this album made it a perfect candidate for the solo acoustic route, especially since many of the musical pieces were things that I improvised “on the spot”, as I felt them. It basically felt like I was channeling through the guitar, and that it was speaking a very singular, true voice for me.
The voice I have when I play electrically in front of a band, is also deeply personal and improvisational in nature, but I have found recently that the solo acoustic guitar, alone and naked on the stage as well as the studio, is an incredibly expressive and freeing tool to have.
I know there are many big established artists who can now be found playing and touring in this way, and though even some of that is due to the sheer economic difficulty of touring with a band, I’m sure that many of these performers are finding a similar rewarding sense like I have found in this medium.
Not to say that it isn’t fraught with danger too! I mean, it’s quite humbling to have to walk out in front of a thousand folks like I did a few months back, all just with my Gibson J 185 around my shoulder, ready to do my thing, when I was used to having a whole band behind me! Yet, it was simultaneously freeing as well as scary, because I knew I could count on myself. And when it really became apparent that the audience was with me, that REALLY opened the door to my happiness and freedom! It actually got to the point where you realize that the entire auditorium is your instrument, and that you are controlling the sound, space and even the time that is going on in there…..what a feeling when you play a strong groove, and you suddenly stop, to find that the audience is still clapping in time so well, you can use them as your backing percussionists to solo over!
After I went off the stage, to a thunderous standing ovation, I noticed the audience’s grave disappointment when the next act, the headliner, came out and only sang to instrumental tracks that were pre-recorded onto a rack-mounted unit of some kind! Needless to say, some folks even started to walk out! No wonder I was called to do the gig just the night before…..guess they needed the real, human thing up there, creating REAL music, with real feeling! Keep this in mind the next time YOU have to bare your soul out there, especially when it’s on one acoustic guitar! You CAN do it, and you don’t ALWAYS need a band…you ARE the band!
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