When Andreas Kapsalis began teaching himself to play guitar at age 11, he was captivated by heavy metal band ACDC and other riff-oriented guitar bands.
His original music is also influenced by a variety of ethnic folk traditions, flamenco, Americana, blues and rock and roll. But, what really stands out about Kapsalis’ music is his unique style of playing – using both hands on the fret board in a style reminiscent of a pianist.
Kapsalis returns to Taos from his home base of Chicago for two concerts. The first is Tuesday (Oct. 27), 7 p.m. at Taos Mesa Brewing, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Then on Wednesday (Oct. 28), he moves into town for a 7 p.m. show in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. There is no cover charge for either show.
After he cut a tendon in his left hand, Kapsalis lost the ability to play guitar. He eventually regained the use of his hand, but during the time he was incapacitated, he trained himself to play the guitar using only his right hand. When he started to play again with both hands, Kapsalis developed a unique technique he calls “10-finger tapping.”
“It’s a technique where you use both the hands on the fret board, kind of like a piano, so I can do a lot of different harmonies, a lot of different chords. I can play melody, bass and rhythm all at the same time, because I’m using all 10 fingers of both hands, versus the typical style of playing where you form shapes with one hand and play that same shape with the other hand. You can do two shapes at once and play multiple things that way, it’s almost like you can sound like two or three guitar players … I can play percussion and drum beats with one hand and play melody and chords with the other hand.”
Kapsalis is 100 percent Greek-American. His grandparents immigrated to the United States from Greece. He grew up listening to Greek music and sometimes incorporates it into his own compositions. In a broader sense, Kapsalis says his ethnicity has influenced his approach to music because it has made him more open to different styles of music. While he did write a song called Arcadian Blues that draws from American blues music and the folk music of Arcadia, the region in Greece where his family originated, Kapsalis says he does not write Greek folk music. He combines music styles found around the world, choosing those that embody the emotional quality he is seeking to communicate.
“I don’t play Greek folk music, I draw from it as much as I draw from American surf rock, as much as I draw from Delta blues or any Eastern European folk or even Indian ragas.”
Kapsalis just released a solo album this October with all original compositions. The album was recorded with an aim towards capturing all of the sounds Kapsalis teases out of the guitar — percussive and melodic — with his 10-finger tapping technique. He thinks of his songs as stories, with the melody following a storyline, and for that reason he considers melody to be the most important element of his songs.
“I am very impressed that Andreas could cover on guitar what I had written for piano. It is quite amazing to hear my own music performed by great instrumentalists.” – Dave Brubeck, American jazz pianist and composer
“Andreas is reinventing the art of guitar playing. He is the next level.” – Jim Tulio, Grammy Award winning producer
“…finger-tapping fret man Andreas Kapsalis leads the Andreas Kapsalis Trio, (who are) creators of boundless pseudo-soundtrack work and one of the year’s best albums, Original Scores.” – Alarm Magazine
“Luckily, not all acoustic music is created equal. When done correctly, there is something thoroughly genuine about the genre, whose masters employ it as a way to mold the most conventional of instruments into a raw exhibition of feeling. The Andreas Kapsalis Trio is an experimental acoustic ensemble that takes a drastic step away from that boozy romantic on the frat-room couch and a step towards the much more intelligent interplay of inventive guitars and solid percussion.” – Chicago INTERVIEW
“One of the most amazing musicians!” – SMARTALECMUSIC.com