Extraordinary Afternoon of Extraordinary Guitars
Artists: Dan Lavoie, Trevor Gordon Hall, Shun Ng
This Saturday afternoon event was billed as an Extraordinary Afternoon of Guitars, but it could have just as easily been called an Extraordinary Afternoon of Extraordinary Guitars and Guitarists. The brainchild of Dan LaVoie, this event showcased the talents of Shun Ng and Trevor Gordon Hall as well as Dan.
Each guitarist performed a 25-minute solo set, followed by three cover songs which were played by all. Dan started the show on his gorgeous harp-guitar.
What a beautiful instrument! I had only seen it played once, by Andy McKee (who is a very close friend of Dan), and was amazed at the sound it produces. I felt the same listening to Dan; it sounded as if he were playing at least three instruments or running a computer loop when the reality was that it was only Dan and the harp-guitar. He played all original songs in a mostly folk style, and treated us to some of the history of the instrument. It has been around for much longer than I imagined (over two hundred years). He even offered to let anyone play it after the show! I did not see anyone take him up on that; if I knew how to play the guitar, I would have.
Next to the stage was Trevor, playing a kalimbatar which he invented. The instrument is a kalimba, also known as an African thumb piano, attached to a guitar. I was surprised that Trevor was able to play both simultaneously; he plucked the keys of the kalimba with his right hand while plucking the guitar strings with his left. He also added some percussive beats using the body of the instrument (Dan did the same). Trevor’s music comes from more of a new age style. One of his songs was titled “Turning Ruts into Grooves”, a great name for a piece of music!
The last to solo was Shun. He played a custom-made guitar he calls ‘Blackie’, made from a 180-year-old mango tree. It did not combine two instruments, as the others did, but it produced an unusual tone. Shun has a unique fingerpicking style which he uses to play the blues. He was the only one of the three performers who sang, and his somewhat gritty voice suits the blues wonderfully. Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is not an easy song to perform without being an imitation of Freddie Mercury, but Shun took this easily recognizable song and made it his own. He had the audience singing along with him.
Dan and Trevor joined Shun on stage for the three final songs, “The Thrill is Gone”, “Isn’t She Lovely”, and “Come Together”. Despite coming from three musical directions, they united to create beautiful versions of these iconic songs. They had a great time on stage, appreciating each other’s talents. The audience loved the show as well! It was an excellent way to spend a cold afternoon.
Click here for my photos of this extraordinary show.