NISSWA - A fall season of four Friday night events hosted by the nonprofit Grassroots Concerts series opens Oct. 9 with acoustic guitarist Billy McLaughlin.
McLaughlin is a world-class guitarist, composer and producer. He also is a determined artist. Diagnosed in 2001 with an incurable neuromuscular disorder, he has launched a remarkable comeback as a left-handed performer.
His vision of an acoustic guitar that sounds as big as a grand piano but plays fluidly like a violin has carried him around the world, to Billboard's Top Ten Chart and most recently through a devastating medical disorder called focal dystonia.
Billy McLaughlin will perform Oct. 9 in Nisswa as the fall Grassroots Concerts season begins.
McLaughlin grew up in Minneapolis with one phonograph record player and one pair of headphones he shared with his siblings. Music was a family obsession and McLaughlin tried learning trumpet and piano before settling on guitar as a junior high student. His guitar interests ranged widely from Carlos Santana and Duane Allman to Leo Kottke and James Taylor.
While studying music at the University of Southern California, he became interested in the minimalist compositions of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Hearing recordings by guitarists Michael Hedges and Steve Tibbets, McLaughlin launched into a period of intense exploration and began composing for his first CD released on his own record label in 1986.
Many of the new pieces featured a technique using both hands on the fingerboard in which the notes are tapped, creating a harp-like effect. The technique became McLaughlin's stylistic signature.
In 2007, McLaughlin published a limited release of "Into the Light," a concert recording of compositions for acoustic guitar with string orchestra. This collaboration is McLaughlin's first as a left-handed guitarist.
The fall Grassroots Concerts season consists of John Gorka on Oct. 23; The Sidewalk Caf with Rhonda Laurie, Nov. 13; and Rachael Kilgour, Dec. 4.
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Live Well Nightclub and Coffee Bar across from the A&W restaurant in downtown Nisswa. Admission is $10 at the door, which opens at 6:30 p.m.
The volunteer-led Grassroots Concerts are made possible in part by a grant from the Minnesota Legislature awarded by the Five Wings Regional Arts Council. For information, go to www.grass rootsconcerts.org or e-mail grass email@example.com.
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