Music, and the arts in general are not about competition. Well, not really. But what musician is entirely without a sense of wanting to be the best, wanting to play, sing or make music better than anyone else? I mean in any small sense of that concept? Even if true music and emotion in any performance or composition communicates as well no matter what the level of technical proficiency of the musician, last night at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance open mic there were a few guitar players who thought they might as well quit guitar playing all together.
There were a few who thought that they had no chance against a virtuoso like fingerpicking David Broad. I’ve mentioned David a few times on this blog, but last night his guitar playing again whacked over the head all of the musicians and non-musician spectators alike who sat there bewitched by his hard hitting fingerpicking and rhythm as he played his three songs. The guitar playing that struck me the most was on the song “John Henry.” But the other two were also adept.
David has an understated personal style, but sitting there last night you could see him firing on all 12 cylinders – or rather it was like a steam engine – and his foot was tapping rhythm and it sounded like we had old John Henry himself in the room with his hammer….
I asked him how long he had been playing the guitar and he said since his early teens (and he is in his mid-to-late 20s). I asked if he had always done the fingerpicking like that, and he said that had begun when he was 19 and he bought a DVD of Stefan Grossman teaching how to play guitar like that. I told him I have a wonderful CD of Grossman and John Renbourn playing together, but what I did not tell him was that I think I might run out and get one of those Grossman DVDs – either that or quit playing guitar….
Sorry, it was too dark to capture an image, but here was David Broad last night, and the sound is much as we heard it: