All a person has to do is just mention the name of guitarist Adrian Legg.
Immediately music lovers explode into rapturous descriptions of his multi genre style, his extraordinary and original compositions, his legendary showmanship, his infectious joie de vivre. In short, they love this transplanted Englishman and artist, who will be lighting up the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage in concert on Saturday, November 15, at 7 p.m.
“I have been fortunate enough to have seen Adrian Legg in concert twice – and would gladly see him nightly…” said Eric Thom (a former Morrisburg resident who writes music reviews for Maverick, Sing Out, Roots Music Canada among others). “(Legg’s) standalone style combines with elements of classical, jazz, folk, rock and even country, to create something altogether other-worldly and completely captivating.”
Adrian Legg has built an international reputation based on his completely unique finger style approach to the guitar. Recipient of numerous musical awards, and consistently on top of musical polls, Legg performs on a custom guitar that is a hybrid of electronic and acoustic. I asked him about “inventing” his instrument.
“The guitar wouldn’t do what I wanted,” he said, “so I changed it. For me, the American guitar goes from Elizabeth Cotten to Lonnie Mack, taking in banjo and steel guitar. While others devotedly tend individual trees, I just love the whole wood. I need an instrument that can come close to reflecting that.”
A teacher and mentor to other artists, Legg has just released his 12th album, Dead Bankers, to great acclaim. I asked him where the inspirational ideas for his music come from. “Tunes have a technical vehicle and an emotional idea. Sometimes they meet and work, sometimes they don’t…sometimes the music just arrives. I don’t really see music as a business. I keep learning. I have to, I keep writing things I can’t play,” he laughed. “We have to learn new words sometimes to say more clearly what we want to communicate, and so it is with music.”
His on stage versatility is the stuff of legend. “(My heart) lies in the moment…Sometimes music is very simple. A good piece of pop can tell a human story very quickly and simply. Sometimes the story is more complex and there are more layers to discover and understand. How can anyone lose a passion for music? That must be a kind of death.”
Live performance is Legg’s forte. He loves an audience. As he once wrote, “Playing live is the whole point. Everyone makes a journey:..we all come together to share this wonderful, universal, human emotional interaction. This is where music lives.”
And, as Eric Thom puts it, Adrian Legg’s sense of humour is as infectious as his music. “This warm, completely affable Brit…generously provides hilarious banter along the way. (Concert-goers) are in for one unforgettable experience.”
Opening for Adrian Legg on Saturday evening will be a young guitarist who is just beginning to make his mark on the Canadian music scene. Chris Thompson first appeared on the Stage in an Intimate Acoustics show case in 2011. A finger style guitarist himself, Thompson said that he is “excited and honoured to be sharing a stage with a musician as talented and decorated as Adrian. He’s a true genius and a guitar master.”
Thompson has two albums to his name now, and is a composer who “tries to write songs that meet a balance between catchy and melodic, while still being musically and visually exciting.” About two years ago, he went back to basics, focusing more on “building a strong melody and recognizable cohesiveness to my music.” He’s been working on improvisation, blues and jazz. Like Adrian Legg, Chris Thompson loves live performance.
“I really feel strongly that music should always be genuine and from the heart. Part of what makes music performance so powerful is its power to connect you with people. When you’re singing or playing a song that really hits home to an audience member, that’s when the magic happens. The fact that you can tell a story, evoke emotion, and share a connection with someone over some sounds on a guitar is beautifully fascinating to me.”
Tickets for Adrian Legg in concert at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Contact the Stage website at www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.