Three of the most popular, talented, innovative and musically rich guitar players and composers in contemporary music will bring their acoustic guitars together to perform and interact on stages across America this October and January 2011 when Eric Johnson, Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino meet on the Guitar Masters tour.
The 21-date two-leg run of theaters, colleges and clubs will feature individual sets by each capped with a finale where all three interplay and collaborate for the first time together to offer an engaging and enlightening aural feast of acoustic six-string mastery and melodic brilliance.
The trek is sure to be an unforgettable musical experience for concertgoers that unites guitar virtuosos not just known for their awesome skills and technique but a mutual gift for song composition and melody and drawing out the full musicality of the solo acoustic guitar to near-orchestral dimensions. Creative sparks, one-time only stunning improvisations and mutual inspiration are sure to abound as they come together at the end of every show to offer a value-added concert bill that appeals to fans of many musical styles as well as guitar aficionados.
Grammy-winner Johnson is one of the most respected and renowned guitarists playing today, celebrated for his electric six-string playing and songwriting gifts, but also his acoustic talents that have graced his albums and which he has showcased on a number of previous solo tours. He is enshrined in Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats and was named one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century by Musician magazine, took three instrumental songs from his 1990 platinum album Ah Via Musicom into the pop Top 10, and boasts a total of five Grammy nominations. “He’s an extraordinary guitar player accessible to ordinary music fans,” raves the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Andy McKee is an Internet phenomenon whose solo acoustic six-string performance videos and compositional flair have racked up an astounding 78 million-plus plays on YouTube, where he has also held the three Top-Rated Videos of All Time. His creative and innovative use of altered tunings, syncopated rhythm guitar taps, partial capos, and his textural use of polyphonic tones and drones won him Acoustic Guitar magazine’s worldwide Silver Medal award for fingerstyle playing in 2008. With six strong-selling and critically-lauded independent albums to his credit, McKee is a popular and engaging live music attraction who plays some 200 shows a year internationally. As the Lawrence Journal observes, McKee has “forged a distinctive style that proves eye-opening and ear-opening to many.”
Native Italian Peppino D’Agostino “plays steel-string guitar with virtuosity and complexity… Influences as far-flung as the flamenco work of Paco de Lucia and the pop sensibilities of the Beatles, evident in the songs he’s written, which brim with memorable melodies,” raves the Chicago Tribune. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay area, he was voted Best Acoustic Guitarist in Guitar Player’s 2007 Readers Poll and won Acoustic Guitar’s Players Choice Award the following year for Best Acoustic Album Of All Time. He has nine previous U.S. CD releases, including collaborations with electric rock guitar star Stef Burns and classical guitar expert David Tanenbaum, and also adds his steel string playing to eight nylon-string savants in the United Guitar Ensemble. The San Diego Reader hails D’Agostino as “a giant of the acoustic guitar.”
The tour will be the first time that McKee has met Johnson, whose hit “Cliffs of Dover” inspired him to play guitar. “He’s really musical.” McKee observes. “It’s like hearing a song but rather than having a vocalist he covers the melody and all the bases at once with his guitar. I still listen to his music all the time and even make references to it in my playing.”
D’Agostino has opened shows for Johnson and notes, “When he plays he really puts his special knowledge in it.” He is also an admirer of McKee’s talent. “What he does with techniques like tapping and his compositions is fabulous. He’s an amazing player.”
“Andy is a great player who puts it all these guitar technique into songs he writes and plays that make them quite interesting. But it’s still all about the song,” Johnson observes of McKee. “Peppino is a really emotional and very soulful player. And he comes from a little bit different background than Andy and I do, so it’s really nice combination for all of us to come from our different sources and mix it all together.
The tour will coincide with the release of Johnson’s new album, Up Close, on his own Vortexan label via EMI. McKee issued his latest recording, the CD/DVD package Joyland, on Razor & Tie Records in March. And D’Agostino’s latest album, Nine White Kites, comes out on his own label August 24.
Guitar Masters tour itinerary:
Oct 1 Milwaukee, WI Northern Lights Theater
Oct 2 Indianapolis, IN Clowes Memorial Hall
Oct 3 Ann Arbor, MI The Ark
Oct 6 Salina, KS Stiefel Theatre
Oct 7 Iowa City, IA Englert Theatre
Oct 8 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre
Oct 9 Rochester, MN Mayo Civic Center
Oct 10 Evanston, IL Space
Oct 13 Phoenixville, PA Colonial Theatre
Oct 14 Lebanon, NH Lebanon Opera House
Oct 15 Bethesda, MD Music Center at Strathmore
Oct 16 Westhampton Beach, NY Performing Arts Center
Oct 17 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Jan 14 San Luis Obispo, CA Spano Theatre
Jan 15 Mission Viejo, CA Norman P. Murray Center
Jan 16 San Rafael, CA Marin Center
Jan 17 Visalia, CA Fox Theatre
Jan 19 Arcata, CA Van Duzer Theater
Jan 20 Chico, CA Laxson Auditorium
Jan 21 Napa, CA Opera House