Sunday, October 19, 2008
Guitarist Tony McManus in Elora
One of the nicest things about having a blog is meeting interesting people online, and then in real life. (Of course, you also meet some unpleasant loonies, but that's fodder for another post.)
Last May Recursivity got some fan mail from Tony McManus, a guitarist who lives in nearby Elora, Ontario. Actually, calling him a "guitarist" is somewhat of an understatement; he has been called "the best Celtic guitarist in the world". Tony studied ring theory under Peter Vámos at the University of Exeter before giving up mathematics for music.
Tony was kind enough to leave tickets for me and my family to attend his concert in Elora, and last night we all went. Tony's music was phenomenal, combining an intense virtuosity with a percussive style that left the audience breathless. He predominantly played Celtic tunes, but there was quite a lot of variety (including a Bulgarian piece and two pieces played on a special guitar, designed by a Toronto guitar maker, that sounds like a sitar). The variety of sounds he can get from a guitar made me really envious. In between tunes, Tony told us a lot of great stories about drunk Celtic musicians. We all had a terrific time.
Tony was accompanied by Rolly Brown, a fingerpicker now living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near where I grew up. In addition to guitar, Rolly is an acupuncturist, a Tai Chi instructor, and he raises Australian dogs. Rolly played some Reverend Gary Davis, Steve Mann, and he closed with a take-off on Julie Gold's "From a Distance" (made famous by Nanci Griffith) written by Jay Mankita in 1992: "From a Dog's Stance". The audience was in stitches.
If you ever get a chance to see Tony McManus or Rolly Brown, take it! Tony gives concerts and workshops all across the world. I guarantee you'll have a great time.