This weekend so far has been a guitar experience.

Friday night I caught most of a concert by Michael Pickett at the Artword Artbar. Michael is a bluesman who started out with a full band but now performs mainly solo. I’ve been going to his performances locally for some time now, especially when he plays in intimate settings like the Artbar.

His presentation consists of voice, accoustic guitar, and racked harmonica with only a few production tricks like reverb used occasionally. His style is vigorous and ideosyncratic. What I especially like is the way he uses one of his guitars, a National Steel. It’s one of those guitars from the ’20-’30s with a full steel body, steel strings, and a Dobro cone resonator. It’s a marvel to see and hear him attack the instrument, to hear the instrument’s response to a master’s hands and fingers. The music reverberates throughout the room; there is no space for other sounds to exist.

For this I want to thank Gwen Duncan and the Tribal Gallery.

Saturday afternoon I attended another concert, one that was similar in some respects but so different in others. The setting was even more intimate, thirty or so people gathered in someone’s home for a house concert. Again the performer was a single person, not a band or ensemble. Again the main instrument was a guitar. And that is where the similarities end.

David Leisner presented a program of music on his concert guitar, most of it written especially for the guitar. Whether playing a Bach arrangement or his own composition, he was the consumate musician – aware of his music, his instrument, his audience, and the synthesis of all those elements. There was no way to escape the spell in which we were held; his technique and arrangements had us transfixed.

And I came away  with the same emotional high. Two different performances, styles of music that could not be more dissimilar, presentations so contrasting. But in both cases the energy and the power innate in music as such moved me and gave me joy. Even thinking about it creates a glow.

And for the David Leisner concert I have to thank Emma Rush and Guitar Hamilton.

The Creator I thank for life and for music.

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