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