100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know: Part 9

100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know: Part 9

Nominated and selected by the TrueFire community, the following ten players join TrueFire’s 100+ Gifted Guitarists You Should Know list in recognition of their extraordinary talent and musical prowess. They are listed in no particular order. Click here to see the full list and learn more about this series.


Andreas Varady

Inspired by Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery and George Benson, 13 year-old Slovakian gypsy Andreas Varady has been playing the guitar since he was four. Taught by his father, Bandi, he gained his first experiences from busking on the streets of Limerick and Cork, Ireland. He also attended jazz workshops in Limerick and Sligo, and travelled to New York to study at Skidmore Jazz Institute, under scholarship from the combined Art Councils of Ireland.

In 2009, Andreas reached a national audience on RTE’s ‘The Guitar’ competition. Around the same time he wrote to Irish drumming star David Lyttle, introducing himself as a 12 year-old jazz guitarist. Lyttle began featuring him in his group, alongside international players such as Andreas Oberg, Soweto Kinch, Michael Janisch and others. Andreas has also appeared with Louis Stewart, Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor. He has made numerous appearances on BBC and RTE television and radio. Read on for more Gifted Guitarists…

On Andreas’ debut album, Questions, he co-leads with David Lyttle, and also features US bass star Michael Janisch and Bandi on rhythm guitar. Released on LYTE Records, and launched at the Cork Jazz Festival in October 2010, the CD includes two of Andreas’ originals, a solo version of ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ and Django Reinhardt’s ‘Festival 48’. On March 21st, he becomes the youngest musician to headline at London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s, where he will appear with Questions.

Official Website: www.andreasvarady.com

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Robbie Calvo

Robbie studied the art of decorative painting and design at the Hastings College of Arts and Technology receiving distinctions from the City & Guilds of London, England. He also graduated from the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles.

After an 18 month stint in Hollywood, Robbie returned to England to teach guitar at the London Musicians Institute for three years. In 1995, Robbie placed second in the ‘Guitarist Of The Year’ finals at London’s Wembley Arena and also took first place in the Unisong international songwriting competition with his instrumental piece ‘Dark Horses.’ Robbie provided guitar techniques articles for Guitarist Magazine and played sessions on several B.B.C. T.V. theme tunes. Robbie was also songwriter and lead guitarist for the Rock group Chisholm.

Robbie relocated to Nashville, TN. in 1998, to pursue his songwriting career. Writing and pitching songs by day from his 16th Avenue publishing office and playing live at the writers’ rounds by night. He has also co-written songs with his good friends Alex Call, Mark Williamson, Dylan Altman & Gilles Godard. Robbie records sessions as a guitarist, plays in an all star rock band, writes songs, and underscores in his spare time!

Aside from his musical talents, due to his exquisite design and decorative painting services, Robbie won the best faux finisher at the Peoples’ Choice awards in 2006 and has also been voted favorite faux finisher for three consecutive years by Nashville House & Home magazine.

Official Website: www.RobbieCalvo.com

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Nick Moss

There’s a ‘Renaissance Man’ revival in the music industry and the unprecedented upheaval in the entertainment field has thrown open the doors of opportunity for artists with vision and courage to take advantage of it. The release of his eighth album, Privileged, is proof that Nick Moss has both.

After seven critically-acclaimed traditional blues albums, Nick has widened his focus on Privileged in order to absorb song forms and influences beyond the scope of those heard on his previous albums. Not every artist is willing to challenge themselves to grow, explore, and expand.

Nick didn’t waste time waiting for someone else to believe in him. He had the passion, confidence, and drive to start his own label, Blue Bella Records, in order to pursue his dream and artistic vision.

Before Nick forged his own direction, he spent time playing with some of the greatest bluesmen of all time. He got the call to play bass with the great Chicago guitarist Jimmy Dawkins. Shortly thereafter, he hooked up with the Legendary Blues Band, featuring Muddy Waters Blues Band alumnus Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums. He recalls. “I still love Willie. He is like my second father.” The next deep-blues learning period for Nick, who’d switched over from bass to a six-string, was in the band of Chicago blues legend Jimmy Rogers for three years in the mid-’90s. With his blues graduate studies completed by the late ’90s, Moss launched his band, The Flip Tops and Blue Bella Records.

Official Website: www.NickMoss.com

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Earl Klugh

Earl Klugh is an American smooth jazz/crossover jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and composer.

At age 13, Klugh was captivated by the guitar playing of Chet Atkins when Atkins made an appearance on the Perry Como Show. Klugh was a performing guest on several of Atkins’ albums. Atkins, reciprocating as well, joined Earl on his Magic In Your Eyes album. Klugh also appeared with Chet Atkins on several television programs, including Hee Haw and a 1994 TV special entitled “Read my Licks.” Klugh was also influenced by Bob James, Ray Parker Jr, Wes Montgomery and Laurindo Almeida. His sound is a blend of these jazz, pop and rhythm and blues influences, forming a potpourri of sweet contemporary music original to only him.

Klugh’s first recording, at age 15, was on Yusef Lateef’s Suite 16. He played on George Benson’s White Rabbit album and two years later, in 1973, joined his touring band.

For their album, One on One, Klugh and Bob James received a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981. He has since received 12 Grammy nods, millions of record and CD sales, and continues touring worldwide to this day.

Klugh has recorded over 30 albums including 23 Top Ten charting records – five of them No. 1 – on Billboard’s Jazz Album chart. With 2008’s The Spice of Life, Klugh earned his 12th career Grammy nomination – his second nomination and release on the independent Koch label.

Official Website: www.EarlKlugh.com

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Andy Timmons

Andy started playing in bands at age 13. Later, as guitarist for pop-metal band Danger Danger, he toured the world opening for Kiss and Alice Cooper, sold over a million records worldwide, and had two #1 videos on MTV, plus a discography that includes 7 solo releases that range from blazing guitar instrumentals, to blues, and even a Beatles/Elvis Costello-inspired collection of pop tunes.

As a session player, he’s been highly featured on CDs by drumming legend Simon Phillips, a live CD with Olivia Newton-John (Andy has been her music director/guitarist for several U.S. tours), two internationally acclaimed CDs by Kip Winger, recording sessions for Paula Abdul, Paul Stanley, and countless radio and television jingles. He has also played alongside many of his heroes such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani (as a regular guest on their G3 tours in Dallas), Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Mike Stern, Ace Frehley, Ted Nugent, and Pierre Bensusan, as well as some of his fave ’60’s singing stars such as the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore, and Gordon Waller (of Peter and Gordon fame!).

Andy has been consistently voted a “Top 20 Favorite Guitarist” in most of Japan’s rock music magazine’s reader polls, as well as being voted “Musician of the Year” four years in a row in the acclaimed Dallas Observer Music Awards. He also has become one of the most respected and sought after clinicians representing Ibanez Guitars, touring the world on their behalf.

Official Website: www.AndyTimmons.com

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Andy McKee

Andy McKee (born in Topeka, Kansas) is an American fingerstyle guitarist, currently signed to the American record label Razor & Tie. His style of playing and his compositions have earned him a considerable international fan base; in late 2006, a live performance of his signature song “Drifting” became a Featured Video on YouTube and MySpace, achieving over 37,000,000 views on the former to date and remaining one of its highest rated music clips. A handful of McKee’s other songs have experienced lesser success on YouTube, such as “Rylynn” with over 18,000,000 views. Similarly, McKee’s cover of “Africa” reached over 9,000,000 views before suddenly being removed by Candyrat Records.

McKee played his first guitar at age 13, an Aria nylon string bought by his father. Initially underwhelmed by his guitar lessons, McKee’s electric guitar-playing cousin inspired him to continue learning, taking him out for his 16th birthday to see a guitarist named Preston Reed perform live at a clinic. McKee later bought an instructional videotape from Reed and began to learn more complex guitar techniques from it. He began to take influence from guitarists such as Michael Hedges, Billy McLaughlin, Pat Kirtley, and from Passion Session by Don Ross, as he self-studied the instrument.

In 2001, McKee independently released his first album, Nocturne. That same year, he was placed third at the National Fingerstyle Guitar Competition in Winfield, Kansas.

Official Website: www.AndyMcKee.com

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Steve “Red” Lasner

Steve (Red) Lasner was born in 1959, introduced to music at a very early age by his Mom, and given his first guitar in September 1966 by his Grandfather. Red started his career in the Tampa Bay Area bar scene in 1977. He toured with rock, country, variety and top 40 show bands in the 1980′s.

In the late 80′s Red found his passion for the blues, cutting his teeth with James and Lucky Peterson. In 1989, he put together his own band, The Soulshakers, and hosted the Ringside Cafe Blues Jam for 17 years. Adding Wendy Rich to the Soulshakers in 1990, the band toured nationally and internationally. Red has rubbed elbows and performed with many great and famous musicians including Buddy Miles, John Sebastian, Derek Trucks, Robben Ford and many more.

In 2009, TrueFire released Red’s first guitar instructional video “Blues Expose.” On the cover of this volume, the producers describe his work by saying, “Red has played the blues as a pro with everyone and his brother. Street smart with chops you can only develop from years on the blues circuit.”

Red continues to perform locally, nationally and internationally and continues to produce instructional material.”* He is a down to earth guy with a passion for music and the blues. He can be found on MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/steveredlasner and also on FaceBook. You can often find him on the TrueFire Forum contributing insights to help others learn to play.

Official Website: www.SteveLasner.com

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Tony MacAlpine

Progressive guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine began his musical education as a classically-trained pianist and violinist. His subsequent rock recordings retained a pronounced classical influence, incorporating elements of jazz and fusion as well. He debuted in 1986 with the instrumental album Edge of Insanity, recorded with an all-star line-up including bassist Billy Sheehan and ex-Journey drummer Steve Smith.

For the follow-up, Project: Driver, MacAlpine formed the band M.A.R.S. with drummer Tommy Aldridge, vocalist Bob Rock and bassist Rudy Sarzo. MacAlpine soon returned to his solo career, additionally forming his own label, Squawk. After 1987’s Maximum Security, he founded another group, dubbed simply MacAlpine, with singer Alan Schorn, keyboardist Mark Robertson, bassist Mike Jacques and drummer Billy Carmassi. The band’s lone record, Eyes of the World, appeared in 1990, and MacAlpine returned to instrumental projects for the remainder of the decade, issuing a series of albums including 1992’s Freedom to Fly, 1995’s Evolution, 1997’s Live Insanity and 2000’s CAB. The GRAMMY-nominated CAB2 followed in 2001. CAB4 was released in 2003 on Favored Nations Records.

Tony’s latest release “Collection – The Shrapnel Years” is out now through Shrapnel Records. He also has a new web site that is currently under construction, but the one listed below is still working for now. You can now follow Tony on Facebook and Twitter. Tony will be tweeting about the progress of his new solo album in the coming days and weeks.

Official Website: www.TonyMacAlpine.com

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Paul Pigat

You’d never think it to look at Paul Pigat, but behind that unassuming grin and underneath those Doc Watson glasses lurks one of the most restless, combustible musical imaginations ever crammed into a single body. Blessed with a jazz man’s sheen, a rockabilly heart and a hobo’s soul, there aren’t many genres of music that don’t pull at Pigat’s wayfaring imagination. In many ways, it’s a mystery why Paul Pigat isn’t a household name yet. Maybe he’d be a lot easier to pin down if he wasn’t so darn good at so many different things.

One could be forgiven for thinking that up until now Paul has spent his whole career flying under the radar. Like all those great old Stax records where Steve Cropper stood behind Otis Redding and played his heart out before anyone knew who he was, Pigat has been creating sweet sounds for some of the best artists in the country without getting the attention you’d expect. Still, over the last several years this unassuming Vancouver native has quietly compiled a list of credits that would be the envy of anyone in the music business.

Cousin Harley is the rocking hillbilly persona of Gretsch endorsed Pigat. This band has a reputation for delivering everything from rockabilly to vintage country and western swing. Their fifth album, “It’s A Sin” was released in 2010.

Official Website: www.PaulPigat.com

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Laurence Juber

Fusing folk, jazz, and pop styles, two-time Grammy-winner Laurence Juber creates a multifaceted performance that belies the use of only one acoustic guitar.

The former lead guitarist for Paul McCartney’s Wings (with whom he earned a Grammy award), Juber is a world-renowned guitar virtuoso, composer and arranger. He has released 18 critically acclaimed solo albums, including LJ, Mosaic, Guitarist and PCH. His solo arrangement of The Pink Panther earned him a second Grammy. His CD, Pop Goes Guitar, includes the arrangement of Stand By Me that was heard nationally in the ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ commercial. His last release, Wooden Horses, showcases LJ’s compositions for solo guitar, and his latest CD is a Vol 2 follow-up to LJ Plays The Beatles, which is one of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s’ all-time Top Ten acoustic albums.

He is featured on the CD Poppin’ Guitars, a tribute to the music of the Sherman Brothers, and can be seen in the documentary film, The Brothers, about those celebrated Disney composers.

As a studio musician, his playing can be heard on such ling-running TV shows including Roseanne, Home Improvement and Seventh Heaven. He is currently featured on the score to ABC Family channel’s hit show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

As a composer, Juber has contributed the soundtrack of the upcoming Blizzard Entertainment video game Diablo III. His music is also featured in the Ken Burns documentary The Tenth Inning.

Official Website: www.LaurenceJuber.com

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