6-string and 12-string guitar concert / 17 May 2019 / Paper Mulberry Café, Te Aute / By Shelley Burne-Field
A back room in the old Sunday School building at the Paper Mulberry Café creates a nice rustic backdrop for an immersion into the world of American ‘fingerstyle wizard’, Richard Gilewitz. The acoustics are just right, the space embraced by an intimate audience, all breathy in anticipation of 40+ years’ honed guitar magic.
Richard Gilewitz doesn’t sing – though he hums a few cheeky tunes now and then. But his stories and deep voiced yarns build an instant rapport, which is pitch perfect from the get-go. He’s funny. Really funny. His in-jokes about C sharp minor chords as ‘death notes’ and references to Trump hit the audience’s tuning forks and make us hum and titter. He achieves the right amount of dry humour interspersed with interesting tales worthy of a weathered leather-bound tome describing an adventurous musician’s life travelling the globe.
Richard’s talented, dexterous fingers are as amazing as his talented tongue. He conjures blends of folk music, blues, classical and touches of banjo, drums, bass and ukulele, with six-string, five-course offerings, from the emotionally stirring to the frenetic and hearty, and expert finger-bleeding runs of 12-string delights.
We eat the notes up, nodding and tapping and moving as one. There’s comfort food in an arrangement of the Beatle’s Eleanor Rigby, but also unfamiliar, piquant chords and patterns that are taste-provoking and new. Gilewitz is not afraid to play some sweet originals and also keep a pavlova groove with classics like Hallelujah and even a bit of Elvis.
To the untrained, musically uneducated ear (mine of course) the concert is a powerful journey of the senses – with the added sensory enjoyment of actual wine, coffee, dessert. But I am jealous of those audience members who have the ears and the knowledge to truly appreciate what a phenomenon we have in front of us. Looking around the room, I see young and old eyes literally bugged out in star-struck awe.
Droll, funny, spectacularly skilled, Richard Gilewitz and his guitars are an absolute treat!
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