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“Sounds Like” I May Have a Problem…

No, not that kind of a problem – an actual sound problem. As in sound system.

October 2015 was rolling up fast as I prepared to embark on a tour of the UK and Germany. One particular venue on the schedule did not have a sound system. Since I travel lighter than ever these days with the rising costs of extra luggage and with the impracticable practice in carrying an entire sound system on an airplane, I was in a pickle. The Westbar in Frankfurt was kind enough to open a special event night for me during the tour and since they infrequently did anything of a live musical nature, it made sense that there was no in-house rig was available.

Richard and AlexThis date in November came about by being in Frankfurt last April for my 5th consecutive tour to MusikMesse. I was invited to hear a friend from Greece, Alex Abravanel, perform at the Westbar one evening. MusikMesse is the largest music fair in Europe embracing a meeting of the worldwide music industry companies and has been a great opportunity to meet up with friends again such as Alex. He was kind enough to invite me up to play a couple of tunes on the break at the Westbar and the owner, Volker Hochhuth approached me about performing on my next pass through if I needed a pickup date to fill out a tour.

Selecting a date, discussing terms, or room setup location for this event was simple enough but paled in comparison to the ease of finding a sound system appropriate for the small room. I surmised rather quickly that a simple amp should easily cover the room so I embarked out of curiosity on a mission to see if I could arrange for one of my sponsors to lend a hand. Knowing no musicians who lived in Frankfurt or having an affiliation with any music stores in town presented the first obstacle.

The second one was that most of my sponsors, such as LR Baggs, D’Addario Strings, Shubb Capos, Audio-Technica, and Mel Bay Publications deal in pre-amps, pickups, strings and accessories, capos, microphones, printed material and educational products. Not amps.

westbar ampAs it turns out, now step back to September when I attended the London Guitar Show I encountered my friends at Schertler Amps, an excellent Swiss and Italian based company. These guys stepped up to the plate to lend a hand with my sound dilemma. Drago Dujak, with Schertler, arranged for his German distributor, Bernhard Hecht, to supply me with one of their top notch amps to support the evening. The proceedings to obtain a single amp for the night was fascinating along with the trust involved. Someone in Italy or Switzerland calls someone in Nuremberg to arrange for an amp to be shipped overnight from Munich to Frankfurt for an artist they’ve never dealt with to a venue they’ve never dealt with for an isolated occasion. Along with trust was effort. And I don’t take lightly what was involved on everyone’s front, which to me was one simple concept. Music is about to happen and without our assistance music will not happen. Let’s get this done.

WestBar folksI’ve always considered to some degree that every night playing is audition night. There is never a guarantee you’ll have a great night, how many folks will come, who you’ll meet, connections that can be made, missed opportunities, if you’ll play well or simply put – whether the crowd enjoys what you do. But, I do realize one thing. Although I’m honored to have an invite back to the Westbar, it could not have possibly been done without the generous efforts of The Schertler Company and all those involved.

Apparently pretty cool things are still happening in the world.

About the author

Richard Gilewitz

For over three decades fingerstyle guitarist Richard Gilewitz has charmed audiences with road tales and right-hand wizardry, creating a sparkle of mood mastery and wonderment during each performance. Recognized world wide as a performer who has a quirky take on everything around him, Richard lives up to this depiction with rousing shows filled with offbeat observations and 6 & 12-string gymnastics. As a youngster, Richard Gilewitz embraced such diverse artists as The Beatles, Andres Segovia, Kraftwerk, Leo Kottke, J.S. Bach, Arlo Guthrie, John Fahey and Flatt & Scruggs. With Richard's signature playing style delivering a technical diversity of banjo style picking patterns, classical arpeggios, tapping and harmonics, along with a rhythmic and percussive approach, he shares a fresh impression of sound to the listener during his concert performances and at his annual 2-day GillaCamp Guitar Workshop. Students around the globe also attend Richard's roving GillaCamp Guitar Workshop, a 1 to 4 hour interactive experience that provides players an avenue to renew their love of the guitar. In between touring, Richard conducts private lessons and also teaches students through Skype. Catch Richard's tour schedule at www.richardgilewitz.com

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