East Calais, Vermont
Hometown (if different from current town):
At what age did you start playing guitar, and what made you decide to start?
I was 15, it was the era of the Beatnics and Folk Music a la Kingston Trio and I caught the bug. Went to Greenwich Village every Sunday during my Junior and Senior years in HS, saw street singers such as Richie Havens, Bob Dylan.
A junky nylon string of no name, next a Gibson J-45.
Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan, Kingston Trio
Tell us about your early playing days. What motivated you? Did you have friends that played? I find that one of the best ways to learn is to jam with people that are way better than you. Did you do a lot of jamming when you first started?
I had friends who were learning Travis picking - we were all part of the "beatnic" group at my high school. I jammed on Sundays in Greenwich Village and took a few lessons from a teacher who wanted me to learn the Bossa Nova!
As a senior in HS, played 12 string (Guild) behind 3 girl singers doing Peter Paul & Mary at a Brooklyn coffeehouse. Probably this was 1960. Playing guitar was a good way to meet girls back then.
Acoustic Guitars you own:
Currently own a Morgan "Sarah", a Taylor GAMC, Goodall RCJC, Baby Taylor, Sigma D-28 copy, a Foley bouzouki and a Gibson A-3 mandolin
The Goodall RCJC is by far the best guitar I've ever owned or have played. I purchased this guitar in March '03, 4 years old but dead mint condition.
Your Style, and how you developed it:
I primarily play Celtic music in altered tunings fingerstyle. I use DADGAD, DGDGBC, DGDGCD tunings. I do some American Folk music and my own songs in standard tuning.
About an hour a day or more if possible. I work on new tunes, and technique. Currently honing right hand triplets, trying out guitar frailing a la Steve Baughman.
Favorite Artist(s): I have many favorites. I operate a Celtic fingerstyle guitar web page (www.arthuredelstein.com/) and have become friends with many really superb musicians. Favorites include in no special order: Steve Baughman, David Surette, El McMeen, Tony McManus, Martin Simpson, Ian Melrose and several others.
What general suggestions would you give to someone who wants to start playing guitar?
From my experience, if you've never played start with a teacher as good technique is essential and should be learned before bad habits take over. I'd suggest listening as much as possible and going to concerts and getting front row seats to watch the guitarist. Also, practice, practice.
For alternate tunings there are a fair number of books available (see my web site) but I'd say attend one of the guitar workshops offered at Elkins W. VA or elsewhere as it takes time to get the "feel" of new tunings.
I perform locally in Vermont at restaurants, small clubs, and have appeared at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival.
I have two CDs out, "The Water is Wide," all instrumental Celtic, playing guitar, bouzouki and mandolin,
"Vermont Roads" singer songwriter CD, and have written a book on the Irish harper Turlough Carolan(1670-1738) called "Fair Melodies Turlough Carolan; An Irish Harper". That book includes a CD of Carolan music with me on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, and Tim Newcomb on violin, mandolin, viola and nyckleharpe.
Check out Art's website