Richard Gilewitz,
(Gillazilla, 2004)

This artist's approach to writing music is as unusual as his playing style. Teacher, author, guitar player and storyteller Richard Gilewitz is often referred to as the strangest man in acoustic music today.

Gilewitz studied computer science and mathematics at the University of Alabama, and he even tried a traditional day job for a while, but the pull of his love for music was too strong. For the past 25 years, Gilewitz has been touring all over the world, spreading his musical views and tales to fans. Along the way he has shared the stage with Kenny G, America, Taj Mahal, the Indigo Girls, the Little River Band and Marie Muldaur.

Gilewitz's approach to writing is that each note is an individual and a group of notes is a society. On his album ThumbSing, Gilewitz takes it a step further with each song being its own entity, thus providing an album of 13 original and cover tunes where no two tunes are the same. While some musicians carry around gadgets that are like a band in a box, Gilewitz takes his 6- and 12-string guitars and creates a concert, all while telling tales so fantastic and wild that they could only be true.

"Thumbsing" is one such concert. But without the wild stories. Gilewitz opens the album with the title track, a piece he plays using only the thumb on his right hand in a down stroke (strumming) motion. Also among the varying styles of tunes Gilewitz plays a Bach Prelude and the cover tune "Freight Train" with the capo (sometimes referred to as a cheater) on the second fret, giving the guitar a sound somewhere between a mandolin and a banjo.

In the hands of Richard Gilewitz, the guitar becomes an instrument used for much more than strumming chords.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Sherrill Fulghum

26 July 2008

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