Guitarist Richard Gilewitz talks to legendary TAFFYs in an exclusive video interview about his career and experiences in the music business.
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At turns mesmerizing, playful, humorous and wistful, Gilewitz is a master of moods when he speaks to audiences through his guitar. He’s always at the service of his inner voice, which has a sneaky way of connecting directly to the listener’s heart.
— Creative Loafing Magazine, Tampa Bay FL
I actually wanted to be a drummer. Five minutes after my folks heard that news, they bought me a guitar. I tried flat-picking, but the pick kept falling in the hole. At one point I thought about playing a harmonica, so I blew on that for about a month. Then a real harmonica player saw me in action and said, ‘Did you know if you breathe in you get all the other notes? You could ride down the road and hold it out the car window and get what you’re doing.’ So I recovered and rediscovered fingerstyle guitar.
For over three decades, American fingerstyle wizard Richard Gilewitz has fascinated listeners with 6 and 12-string finger gymnastics while spinning enchanting yarns of a seasoned raconteur. His signature playing style delivers a technical diversity of banjo style patterns and classical arpeggios with a rhythmic percussive approach, exploring the history of guitar with sounds of folk to Americana, the blues to the classical, ragtime to pop, and somewhere in between. In addition to his concert performances, Richard offers his GillaCamp Guitar Workshops, Meet the Artist Seminars, and Avenues for Success Education Outreach programs to inspire players worldwide and provide opportunities for music lovers to hone their craft and young players to learn fingerstyle techniques and tips of the trade.
Richard Gilewitz BiographyAs a youngster, Richard embraced such diverse artists as The Beatles, Andres Segovia, Kraftwerk, Leo Kottke, J.S. Bach, Arlo Guthrie, John Fahey and Flatt & Scruggs. As he soaked up the wealth of inspiration supplied by the assorted acts featured at the Renfro Valley festivals, “The Dr. Demento Radio Show” and “The Midnight Special”, Richard welcomed the challenge of mastering and adapting many styles of music for the acoustic guitar. With Richard’s performances teeming with sparkles of mood mastery and wonderment, he shares a fresh impression of sound to the listener during his concert appearances and at his guitar workshops.
Richard began honing his skills both as a performer and composer during the late 1970’s at the University of Alabama, playing the local coffeehouse circuit while pursing degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Music. Following graduation, Richard placed his musical calling in the background and joined the world of flight simulation design, telemetry and satellite systems.
The 1980’s brought Richard to Florida where he released his first LP recording, Somewhere In Between. As the pull of his passion for performing and recording became so compelling, Richard left corporate life to teach and perform full time in a career that has propelled him into an international music arena. He has gone on to release seven more recordings plus a number of educational materials.
Students around the globe attend Richard’s roving GillaCamp Guitar Workshop, a 1 hour to 2-day interactive experience that provides players an avenue to renew their love of the guitar. Designed for all level of player, the GillaCamp explores a wide variety of topics in a group and individual setting. Richard also has a number of international students that study with him through Skype and is guest instructor at a number of international guitar retreats including Winterbreak in Australia and Guitar Retreats in the UK. Meet the Artist Educational Outreach takes him into the learning environment at grade/middle/high schools, colleges, and universities as this 1-5 day residency program introduces students the professional musician. Classes include lectures and instruction.
Collaborating with Mel Bay Publications, Richard released Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop; a book based on his guitar workshops, along with a DVD of “All Time Favorite Fingerstyle Guitar Tunes” and a live performance DVD, “Live at Charlotte’s Web”. His interactive Data DVDs, “Fingerscapes”, “Guitar Foundations”, “Slide Guide”, and “Fingerstyle Narratives” are available through TrueFire, as well as the Sherpa Classroom Program. He has been a contributing writer for Mel Bay Guitar Sessions, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Acoustic Magazine (UK), Premier Guitar, and the L2P Network.
Today, recognized world wide as a performer who has a quirky take on everything around him, Richard continues to live up to this depiction with rousing shows filled with offbeat observations combined with his right-hand wizardry and heaps of technique. Says Spectrum Magazine, “Much of the charm of a Gilewitz performance is in the stories he tells. He wondered aloud to the audience how many ducks he could take out in a fight if he were to be attacked by a flock of the sneaky waterfowl.”
Whether playing solo, conducting guitar seminars and school programs, or sharing the stage with folks such as Stephen Housden of the Little River Band, Brooks Williams, Michael Fix, The California Guitar Trio, John McCutcheon, John Renbourn, Mose Allison, the late John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Norman Blake, Indigo Girls, or John Hammond, Richard always invites the audience to join his journey filled with twitters, twists, and turns at every tune.