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Artist of the Month for September 2002: Larry Pattis

Note: For sound clips, please visit Larry's Audio Clip Page. This link will open a new browser window so you may listen while you read.

Name: Larry Pattis

Age: 46. Born in September of 1955. Virgo.

Town: Salt Lake City, Utah, but looking (literally) for greener pastures (away from the desert).

Hometown (if different from current town): Chicago, IL

When did you start playing guitar? It was 1973, during my senior year in High School. I was 17 years old. My sister and father had signed up for group guitar lessons together, and my Dad didn't like it (hurt his fingers). The 8 weeks of group lessons were all paid for, so I volunteered. I had always wanted to learn to play guitar. Once I got my hands on the guitar I was immediately hooked. I can't remember if my sister finished out the 8 weeks with me. Didn't matter.

First guitar: Don't remember, thankfully. I'll amend the question to "First Guitar I Loved": In 1975 I bought my first Bozo Podunavac guitar. His shop used to be on Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, I didn't know diddley-squat about guitars, handmade or otherwise, but I fell in love with this guitar. Some years after I sold it, I saw it hanging once again in the shop that Bozo used to own. It's the only guitar I have truly regretted letting go of. I guess it's that first love that we always remember and long for.

Early Influences: Peter Lang, Andres Segovia, Michael Lorimer, Leo Kottke, Julian Bream, and John Fahey. Possibly even in that order!

First gig: On campus at Indiana University, Student Union Building, at "The Kiva" coffeehouse, kind of a no-windows basement setting, dark and comfortable. Wonderful memories, even though I couldn't play guitar very well back then. I used to play instrumentals and sing. Don't ask. 8-)

Guitars you own: Currently? Two Martin OM-28V (custom) guitars, one of these I used to record my latest CD, "Hands of Time." Also a custom Jeff Traugott, and two very custom Bozo Podunavac guitars.

Favorite Guitar: Ha, ha, ha, ha .O.K., I'll try to answer this somewhat seriously. I find the Martin OM-28Vs that I own (with cutaway and slotted headstock) to be the perfect guitars for me, both tonally, and also the geometry of the set-up (string spacing at the bridge, width of neck at 12th fret, etc.). Then I pick up my Traugott, and it has such a wonderfully different sound, that I realize there is no possible way to call any of them my favorite. Same thing when I pick up my Bozos. But I do choose to play my Martins for both recording and in-concert. Wonderfully flexible guitars that are a joy to play.

Your Style: Attempting to categorize what I do is a daunting task. There is no quick, one line answer that gives the entire picture. I have had folks describe it as "neoclassical," but there is an actual term "neoclassical" that represents some type of music from the early 20th century that bears no relation to my music. I play original tunes, strong on melody and form, and it seems to be some kind of blending of both folk and classical music. Less and less alternating bass as the years have gone by, more flexibility and experimentation in tempo, more arpeggiation, and I think an evolving melodic style.

How did you develop your style? Hard work, quite frankly. Many years of disciplined practice combined with a lot of experimentation (within the classical tradition "tapping" and other "modern" techniques don't appeal much to me musically). I have always worked on original music, that is, after about 2 years into my guitar playing experience. I learned several Fahey, Kottke, and Lang pieces early on, and emulated and experimented from there. I am not a technical/flashy genius on the guitar, however, by any stretch of the imagination. I use what I have to create what I consider to be pleasing music, rather than impressive pyrotechnics, on the instrument. Early on I never did any arranging of pieces, but hanging around El McMeen has changed this a bit. I do think that arranging music is a terrific way to get into serious guitar playing, even though I did not take that path.

Practice Regimen: I do a series of right and left hand exercises that relate to some early classical training, a bunch of arpeggio exercises and stretching techniques created by the inimitable Pierre Bensusan, and some variations on the Segovia scales (in DADGAD!) that I created myself.

Favorite Artist(s): I don't often listen to guitar players these days, since I have heard most styles and prefer to spend my limited listening time being inspired by my singer-songwriter friends. When I do listen to guitar music, it might be classical, or Pierre Bensusan, El McMeen, or Bill Mize.

This opens the door to an unasked question, Current Musical Inspiration? I really am inspired by great lyrics combined with a good melody. A few of my favorite singer-songwriters (in no particular order): TR Ritchie D-Squared (Don Charles & Deb Gessner) Chuck Pyle Cosy Sheridan David Roth Chuck Brodsky Greg Brown Kate MacLeod

The list goes on. All of these people seem to have a knack for touching my heart directly with their lyrics. These people are the most inventive and creative folks I know (this applies to the guitar players I have listed above, as well!).

Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your playing style or your views on today's music in general?:
Folks will be able to understand my playing style best simply by listening to the six mp3 clips available at my site. Full-length clips, and a variety of tempos and moods.

There has never been such a great amount of wonderful acoustic music as is available these days to people, if they know where to look. There is also a total corporate mindset to what is presented to the general public these days. Look a little deeper, and you'll find some great stuff.

Some of my music has been published by Mel Bay and also Fingerstyle Guitar magazine. I am working on transcriptions so that a complete book might be available before too long. Don't hold me to any firm dates, however. Anyone that wants to be informed about concert dates (local to you), or new CDs, or perhaps the Tab becoming available, can "sign up" by just sending me an email with their "best" (long term) email address, their City, State, and Zip Code. I don't want snail-mail addresses for this purpose any longer, and your email address will only be used by me.

A little Anecdote from Larry:
A long time ago I was visiting my brother in Palo Alto. He was working on a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford, and I was still in college (or just out yeah, that's it, just out), if I remember correctly. I decided to track down Will Ackerman, at the time, owner of this fairly new label called Windham Hill, with just himself and Alex DeGrassi having albums out. He had this tiny office in Palo Alto, and I did manage to find the office, and meet with him. I played a little guitar for him. Even then I was playing original and structured pieces, and I also believe that I played with "heart." The music was probably closer to the Peter Lang/alternating bass thing (lots of Open C tuning) than anything else. He threw me out.

A couple of years prior to this, this same brother told me that someone teaching in the Computer Science Dept. at Carnegie Mellon (where he was an undergrad, and then taught for a year) had a brother that also played guitar, and that he had an album out. He sent me a vinyl LP (hey, this was 1976 or so) titled "Nothing But Guitar." By Harvey Reid! Harvey's brother Brian, and my brother Rich are both in the academic Computer Science field, and spent at least a couple of years together in Pittsburgh. Strange and small world.
Visit Larry Pattis' website here.

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
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