In The Guitar Artistry Of Chris Proctor the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship winner talks about his style and influences as well as giving dazzling performances on both 6- and 12- string guitars.
Chris Proctor falls squarely into the “New World” steel-string guitar style. Beginning with pop and rock music, Chris was soon drawn to the country blues. After exploring that tradition, he studied classical and jazz music, the traditional music of the British Isles, bluegrass and old-time Appalachian music, and, finally, began to investigate the world of the 12-string guitar.
In 1982, Chris won the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship and released his first recording, “Runoff.” That recording, and the 8 that followed on the Flying Fish, Rounder, Windham Hill and Sugarhouse labels over the next 27 years, elevated Chris to the top rank in the steel-string world. Chris also wrote articles and books, filmed instructional videos of his transcriptions and techniques, created the guitar workshop program for Taylor Guitars, and designed the Taylor Chris Proctor Signature Model guitar.
Beginning in the year 2000, Chris broadened his original focus on new music to include reinterpreting music of his diverse set of original influences. His performances today are a primer on the acoustic guitar music of the “New World.” They feature original guitar techniques and devices invented and adapted by Chris, and they convey a striking array of tones, textures and moods.
Titles include: Tap Room, Hot Spot, War Games, Ozymandias, Beppe, Ladybug Stomp, Nights in White Satin, Bach to Ireland, Late Again, Interstate, Morning Thunder, The Last Steam Engine Train, Revisiting the Sailor’s Grave, Gecko Drive and Medley:A Scarce O’ Tatties/The Lyndhurst Jig
Review: Watching Taylor fingerstylist and original workshop clinician Chris Proctor in his new DVD Morning Thunder is an enlightening exercise. Proctor has always been an intrepid guitar explorer, and his expansive approach to guitar composition and playing is likely to leave your head percolating with fresh ideas to apply to your own fretboard excursions.
In the DVD, released through Stefan Grossman’s Vestapol Videos (www.guitarvideos.com) as part of Grossman’s “Guitar Artistry” series, Proctor intersperses solo performances, played on his signature model rosewood Grand Concert and maple 12-string, with interview segments as he shares his influences and evolutionary steps as a player. He talks about the merits of composing with one’s head versus one’s hands, explains his approach to arranging and interpreting, and highlights the tools he uses to bring new textures to the acoustic guitar, like partial capos, the EBow, and alternate tunings.
Proctor’s rich aptitude for so many different styles of music, from blues and traditional Celtic to classical and jazz, inform his “New World” approach, which synthesize different idioms in fresh ways, much like fingerstyle mavericks Leo Kottke and John Fahey, both of whom are significant influences. The DVD performances include a sweet version of Kottke’s “Revisiting the Sailor’s Grace” and Fahey’s “The Last Steam Engine Train,” along with Celtic medleys and Proctor’s original compositions, including the new tune “Gecko Drive.”
Though the DVD doesn’t adhere to a traditional-style instructional format, any guitar lover is bound to come away inspired to dig deeper into their own personal musical inspirations and use them to create something fresh. If only we all had Proctor’s spidery reach on the fretboard. – Wood & Steel