July/August 2004

Bob Evans

July 15, 2004 • Tranzac Club • Toronto

Bob Evans, who played at the Tranzac in Toronto, is the 2003 National Fingerpicking Champion guitarist (Winfield,Kansas). He's fresh from playing at the Canadian Guitar Festival in Odessa, Ontario, this weekend, and his visit to Toronto is sponsored by the Toronto Fingerstyle Guitar Association, Randy Finney, Pres. So what is "fingerstyle" guitar?

It's the style of picking made famous by the late Chet Atkins. Chet taught the late great Lennie Breau, and Lenny taught Randy Bachman of the late "Guess Who", who explains it so: "you play the bassline with your thumb, the melody with your index finger and harmony and variations with the second finger."

No wonder it can sound like there's more than one guitar being played. Before I go any further with this report let me say, "Go out and hear Bob Evans if you can, and/or buy his CD-"Voice in the Grain" (Acoustic Tonic Music 2004)

Bob Evans is a virtuoso.He is also a hellava good player. Solid technique, clean, not too loud or flashy-fast, rich in textures and invention, dead on time, plenty of bounce, and never a string buzz during complicated changes on his acoustic unamped Larrivee OM-05, which he plays in standard and interesting open tunings. Bob also possesses the rare ability of being able to "sketch a story with a tune", especially the many excellent tunes he writes, or adapts and arranges himself. When he adds vocals to his mainly instrumental repetoire, he has the natural, quirky, warm approach that reminds me of Lyle Lovett.

As for musical genres, Bob's material includes The Beatles, John D. Laudermilk, Doc Watson, bluegrass, folk, ragtime, jazz and traditional roots. The only blues he does is 'happy blues' because, he says, he didn't suffer much as a child.

I am listening to the purely instrumental "Voice in the Grain" as I write this. Wonderful stuff, half Bob's own and including his own arrangements of the Beatles "Got to Get You Into My Life," "Yesterday," Henry Mancini's "Theme from Peter Gunn," and tunes by Vincent Guaraldi, Joe Carpenter,and Mike Nelson. Perfect listening on a Labour Day Weekend drive to visit the folks.

Report and photograph by Stanley Fefferman

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