- HOME -

Artist of the Month for October 2004: Kevin Kastning

Kevin Kastning

Groton, Massachusetts

Home Town:
Wichita, KS.

At what age did you start playing guitar?

First guitar:
Some horrible no-brand pseudo-dreadnaught with a bolted-on bridge and painful, finger-bleeding action. It put the "dread" in dreadnaught. Before I had it, I think it was used to extract war secrets from prisoners in World War II. One of the guys in my dad's band sold it to me. Of course, I loved it.

Early Influences:
My father was my earliest musical influence; he was a bassist. My uncle was a very talented singer/songwriter with a few records under his own name, and some songwriting credits on some other performer's records. My father was the bassist in my uncle's band. Music was a constant. It was everywhere in our house; he had stacks and stacks of records. He exposed me to all genres of music: classical, big band, jazz, pop, country, bluegrass; if it was available on records, I heard it. Exposure to all these diverse styles at such an early age made a tremendous impact on me. Even as a small child, I was listening to music hours and hours per day. (I still do!) According to him, I learned to read from record labels before I'd ever started school.

First gig:
I began playing recitals when I was 8 or 9, but my first real gig was when I was 14. I was doing gigs with my uncle's band (totally under-age), and I started doing studio gigs when I was 15.

Acoustic Guitars you own:
Santa Cruz custom DC , Santa Cruz custom OMC, Martin HDC-28, Martin custom DC-12-28, and an experimental fretless nylon string. All my guitars, except the fretless, are cutaways. I recorded the new CD using all Santa Cruz guitars.

Favorite Guitar:
My Santa Cruz DC! Cocobolo rosewood back and sides, German spruce top, with a cutaway. A huge, massive tone; yet very well-balanced. I love it. Without question, my favorite guitar I've ever had.

Your Style, and how you developed it:
I don't think I have a style as such, but my playing has been impacted by many diverse influences. Interestingly enough, probably none of the people I'd count as influences were guitarists. The vast majority were, and still are, composers. The rest were jazz pianists and horn players. I think too many guitarists only listen to guitarists. Only listening to and pursing the music of one instrument, no matter what that instrument might be, is truly limiting from a technical and artistic standpoint. As much as I love guitar, it's only one of the many instruments from which I can learn.

Practice Regimen:
I begin and end the daily sessions with various scales and modal scales over a three-octave range, using a metronome. I do quite a bit of sight-reading exercises using non-guitar music. For example, I'm currently sight-reading my way through the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. Playing music on guitar which was not written for guitar will tend to force you out of patterns and habits. I also spend a lot of time adapting chordal and harmonic structures from things like string quartet scores to fit on guitar. This produces some unusual, interesting, very beautiful, and very non-guitar-like chord voicings.

Favorite Artist(s):
Wow, that's tough. I have so many favorites! Mostly composers: Bartok, Elliott Carter, Beethoven; especially the late quartets, Gesualdo, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Webern, Morton Feldman, Bach, and many others. Most of the composers to whom I listen are 20th century composers. I've gotten a lot from authors such as Joyce and Proust, and painters such as Pollock. I think all areas of the arts are connected; it's all about self-expression and communication; just in different mediums. For example, I've gotten ideas about composition and form by reading something like Joyce's "Ulysses." Or staring at a Pollock painting and thinking about how it would sound if it were translated into notes. I've also been influenced by pianist Bill Evans. I actually don't listen to that many guitarists, but a few I like are Ralph Towner, Goran Sollscher, and Paul Galbraith. Those guys just knock me out. They're stretching the boundaries of guitar.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?
Nothing else about me or my playing or composing, but in my opinion, the possibilities of the guitar are endless. I would invite guitarists to broaden their horizons and expose themselves to non-guitar music. You'll hear things you'd never hear otherwise.

Check out Kevin's website.
If you are a guitarist with a cd out and would like to be featured here please contact me.

AOTM Archives:

August 2008 - Danny Combs
March 2006 - Bryan Clark
Februry 2006 - Darin Leong
January 2006 - Andy McKee
December 2005 - Don Alder
November 2005 - Doug Young
October 2005 - Nancy Conescu
August - September 2005 - Warren Greig
July 2005 - Ian Melrose
June 2005 - Roger Lasley
May 2005 - Jim Tozier
April 2005 - Jessica Papkoff
March 2005 - Todd Habekost
February 2005 - Michael Hewett
January 2005 - Steve Barney
December 2004 - Tony McManus
November 2004 - Chris Newman
October 2004 - Kevin Kastning
September 2004 - Rick Duke
August 2004 - El McMeen
June-July 2004 - Charles David Alexander
May 2004 - Tony Capri
April 2004 - Shane Simpson
March 2004 - Bill Cooley
February 2004 - Greg Meckes
January 2004 - Gary Leek
December 2003 - Ernie Hawkins
November 2003 - Keith Knight
October 2003 - Jaquie Gipson
September 2003 - Chuck Durfor
August 2003 - Cathy Horner
July 2003 - Art Edelstein
June 2003 - Muriel Anderson
May 2003 - Clarelynn Rose
March-April 2003 - Steve Wildey
February 2003 - Rick Ruskin
January 2003 - Kerry Kling
December 2002 - Tim O'Brien
November 2002 - Howard Emerson
October 2002 - Dennis Roger Reed
September 2002 - Larry Pattis
August 2002 - Paul Asbell