Happenings

Have you ever met a fingerstyle guitarist? One of the best is coming to Macon

It’s not every day there’s a chance to share a potluck dinner with one of the world’s more acclaimed fingerstyle guitarists, but Joe Cullison is offering the opportunity Friday.

Cullison, who heads Macon’s Acoustic Productions, is having his friend Muriel Anderson over from Nashville, Tennessee, during her current tour for a house concert and the public is invited to come enjoy.

At least a certain number who reserve a spot are. They’re asked to sign up, bring a potluck side dish to go along with barbecue Cullison is providing, and chip in on artist expenses. Find out location and more and sign up for a spot at Cullison’s www.acousticproductions.com site.

Followers of fingerstyle guitar will know Anderson, those who don’t should know she is equally at home on regular and harp guitars and that she was the first woman to ever win the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship.

The late Les Paul – famed pop and jazz guitarist and creator of Gibson’s iconic Les Paul electric guitar – heard Anderson perform on a call-in broadcast one night, called in himself and invited her to perform with him. They became friends and he said, “She plays (guitar) like we all wish to play.”

Chet Atkins became a mentor, calling Anderson “a good friend and a great guitarist.” After being accepted in a master class with legendary classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, known for high standards and perfection in playing, Parkening said Anderson “demonstrated excellent technique” and “the fine musicianship to communicate well to her audiences.”

“I remember hanging out backstage with Les Paul and hearing stories of him playing with Judy Garland and things like that,” Anderson said in a phone interview on the road to Delaware. “He was such an innovator. I’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from so many. Chet was a big inspiration and taught me to respect melody. He was always excited about something new and taught me the importance of keeping the joy alive and having fun with music – and of letting audiences in on the fun.

“As far as Parkening, I think he held me up for good technique because my hands are small so having good technique is the only way I can play. But he was a big inspiration. I wondered how anyone could sound so beautiful with such tone and expression. I tried to capture a little of that and from all of them I realized great technique and virtuosity are just tools to deliver a sense of life and wonder in the music. I don’t want people leaving thinking about fast, flashy fingers but with a feeling that life is good and full of wonder. A feeling they’ve been enriched somehow.”

With such friends and influences, Anderson has become adept at playing and composing in many styles with worldwide inspirations. Her current performances include multimedia expressions reflecting such influences.

And there’s something else particularly suitable right now to a house concert/potluck performance with Anderson.

“I’ve released many albums but I’m just now putting out a cookbook,” she said. “In fact, if someone goes to my website (www.murielanderson.com) to my recipe page and ask, I’ll get them a free recipe they can fix and maybe even bring to the dinner. That would be fun, right?”

Another aspect of Anderson’s music is that 20% of concert income this year goes to her charitable Music for Life Alliance, which provides instruments to young people and school music programs. Anderson is well known in Nashville and beyond for her Muriel Anderson’s All Star Guitar Nights which feature Anderson, Nashville and other guitar luminaries in support of the cause. Past performers have included the likes of Vince Gill, Tommy Emmanuel, Kenny Burrell, Phil Keaggy, Keb Mo, Jack Pearson, Thom Bresh and more.

“It’s something to have someone of Anderson’s caliber at any performance but to have her in an intimate house concert is a real treat,” Cullison said. “The nature of a house concert makes it a little different than our venue concerts but they’re all a gathering of friends and music lovers as much as anything. Anyone is welcome, but you have to reserve your spot online.”

House concerts such as the one Cullison is hosting are a growing trend for performers across the nation, and Cullison, an avid guitarist himself, has been bringing notable players to Macon for more than 15 years. Acoustic Productions’ “Celtic Christmas” has become a tradition for many and this year features regulars Robin Bullock and Steve Baughman and adds Irish harpist Sue Richards. It is set for Dec. 3.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Guitarist Muriel Anderson

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8

Where: 5761 Kentucky Downs Drive, Macon

Cost: $20 suggested donation and food item

Information: www.acousticproductions.com, www.murielanderson.com

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