Eric Johnson, Peppino D’Agostino and Andy McKee are setting off on the "Acoustic Masters" tour starting October 21, 2010. Heading through the Midwest to the East Coast and finishing up on multi-date tour of California venues, the three talented guitarists will be bringing their particular brand of acoustic guitar mastery to a town near you. We talked with Eric Johnson briefly about the tour and touched on some other subjects as well.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Acoustic Masters Tour?
Yeah, it’s Peppino D’Agostino, Andy McKee and I – all of us doing a 3-way acoustic thing. It’s going to be fun, we’re doing a few weeks in the midwest and the east coast and then we’re going to do it again in California in January. I’ve toured with Peppino before – I’ve never worked with Andy, but we’ll probably all just do an individual set a piece and then all come out and play a song or two together at the end of the night.
How is it for you to come in and play together with someone new like Andy McKee?
Well, I kinda do it off and on with different people – I’ve never had the opportunity to do it with Andy before or Peppino (though we have toured before), but it’s always nice to do that, you know, just jump in with somebody else and see where it goes. We’ll probably leave the songs we play together kind of open and improv a bit.
Andy McKee gained a lot of popularity on YouTube – what’s your opinion of this new medium and how it’s being used?
I think it’s great – it puts it where it really should be and gives anybody an opportunity to showcase their talent. They’re not under the constraints of who they know, or funds, or anything else. It’s an immediate window.
What have you been listening to lately?
I’m just all over the map – I’ve been checking out Chopan and listening to a bunch of old Motown and Stevie Wonder.. been listening to Sam Cooke a lot lately, trying to check all that out.
Is your playing still being changed and influenced by other sources of inspiration?
I definitely am keeping it open and trying to reinvent myself or to, you know, open up and try to be more musical.
I read that one of your influences was Chet Atkins, do you have other guitar influences from when you were first starting out?
Yeah, yeah – Hendrix was a big influence.. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin, Les Paul, Jerry Reed, yeah.. I love all those guys.
Jimi Hendrix is often described as an innovative guitar player, but talking to you now.. is he that great of a technical guitarist?
Yeah, there are certain songs that you hear of his that are extremely technically great, and it would be difficult for anyone (no matter how technical they are) to play them as well as he played them. In addition to that, I think that he was such an emotional, innovative player that stuff like that didn’t really rule him. So a lot of that stuff isn’t so technical, but is extremely emotional or extremely different, unique and innovative. I think he really crossed all of those bridges. And in addition, put in perspective what he was playing and doing 43 years ago.. it’s just mind boggling. At the time that he came out - with the knowledge and what we had learned and gained on guitar style and technique at that time... he just came out of left field with something that was light years different, and beyond what anyone else was doing.
Can you tell us a little about your new album?
Yeah, it’s called "Up Close" and it’s 15 pieces of new music. We finished it a couple of nights ago, it’ll be coming out on AMI Records in late October, I think. And so we’ll be touring off of that probably early next year right after the January leg of the acoustic tour finishes up.
Ok, and how does the new album "Up Close" differ from recordings you’ve done in the past?
I think mainly it’s a step in me trying to let go a little bit of it being too "studio-ish". There’s still a little bit of that in there.. there will always be a little bit, but it’s a step towards trying to just perform more in the studio and kinda let go a bit. We had other artists guest on it as well and try to let it just go where it’s gonna go. It really brought a different type of integrity to what’s going on. I’m kinda looking to go that way more in the future.
What guests did you have on this album?
Sonny Landreth, Jimmie Vaughan played on songs, Steve Miller sang on a tune and Jonny Lang as well.
We’re looking forward to the show in Chicago, thank you for giving us a moment of your time!
Guitar Masters tour itinerary:
Oct 1 Milwaukee, WI Northern Lights Theater
Oct 2 Indianapolis, IN Clowes Memorial Hall
Oct 3 Ann Arbor, MI The Ark
Oct 6 Salina, KS Stiefel Theatre
Oct 7 Iowa City, IA Englert Theatre
Oct 8 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theatre
Oct 9 Rochester, MN Mayo Civic Center
Oct 10 Evanston, IL Space
Oct 13 Phoenixville, PA Colonial Theatre
Oct 14 Lebanon, NH Lebanon Opera House
Oct 15 Bethesda, MD Music Center at Strathmore
Oct 16 Westhampton Beach, NY Performing Arts Center
Oct 17 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Jan 14 San Luis Obispo, CA Spano Theatre
Jan 15 Mission Viejo, CA Norman P. Murray Center
Jan 16 San Rafael, CA Marin Center
Jan 17 Visalia, CA Fox Theatre
Jan 19 Arcata, CA Van Duzer Theater
Jan 20 Chico, CA Laxson Auditorium
Jan 21 Napa, CA Opera House