When she tours fringe festivals around the world, Gemma Wilcox sees a lot of performances. "When I see an incredible show that blows everything else out of the water, it's very rare," says Wilcox. But when she finds something special, she likes to bring it to Boulder. 6 Guitars is one of those shows, starring actor and musician Chase Padgett as six different guitar players of multiple genres; he performs original music and standards and tell stories along the way. In advance of this weekend's shows -- at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 6 and Saturdaym December 7 at Wesley Chapel Theatre, we caught up with Chase Padgett to learn how the show came to be, how fringe festivals foster creativity, and why he loves the guitar.
Westword: Where did the idea for 6 Guitars come from?
Chase Padgett: In 2007 I had just graduated from college from the University of Central Florida and I had just gotten a bachelor's of arts and music. I didn't know what the next step was. I was working at the theme parks in Orlando and I was providing a role as an actor as well as a musician, but I wanted to do something that combined all of the stuff that I wanted to do. I just thought, what's the scariest thing I could possibly do? A one-man show. I like to do characters, I like to do music, so what if I did a bunch of characters who played music? So that's how the show began. Each character is based off of different people in my own life, some more fictitious than others. Two of the characters are actually based right off of professors that I had in college, one of which is really just me when I was nineteen. It's really just an amalgam of all the things I love to do and the musical characters and experiences that have made the biggest impression on me.
What can people expect from the show?
They can expect to find something in there that they're gonna like. I play six different characters and each one plays a different genre of music: blues, jazz, rock, classical, folk and country. Each character does songs, standards as well as originals, that sort of represent their relationship to that music and tell stories -- often very funny stories -- that reveal how each character was introduced to the music they love. The blues character talks about how his first blues name was modeled after Blind Lemon Jefferson, who's a blues player. He's like, all right, I'm gonna copy his formula. A fruit, lemon; a president, Jefferson; and an affliction, blind. So he became Syphilis Mango Taft. Some of it's pretty light-hearted. Other stuff is really about the power of music. There's one story in it that comes from the folk character about how he fell in love with folk music as a way to mourn the loss of his uncle whom he loved as a child. Really that story is just my own story of playing guitar at my dad's funeral when I was nineteen, playing "Tears in Heaven." There are a lot of powerful moments sandwiched in between a lot of fun stories and laughs and my contradictory opinions on music. Like, jazz is great because it's like a lot of different colors. At the same time, nothing's wrong with just playing G. Just play G!
What is it that you like about the guitar?
It has a lot of different meanings for me. One, because it's polyphonic. I first started playing trumpet, and that was fun but I got bored of it when I was in high school, so I picked up a guitar that had been sitting in my closet for years. At first it was all about figuring things out by ear, and then when I found myself playing for three or four hours, it changed. It changed from a fun little puzzle into something that I loved. I think the reason I love the guitar the most is its versatility. It can play multiple notes in chords so it can be rhythm or it can be lead, and when it's lead it can mimic the human voice. You can get a singing quality to the instrument that a piano can never have.
What else do you want people to know about the show?
I've been doing it a long long time. The shows in Boulder are going to be performances number 154 and 155. It has been well-honed from the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit, where I've been the last few years. It's one of the few places where an artist who has a crazy idea can just do the idea and if it's really good people will show up. You don't need an incredible name or a famous person attached to your project in order for it to get green-lit. You can just go do it. The show that I've been doing has grown exponentially in the time that I've been doing it.
This is a show for music lovers at heart. If you love music, any music, you're gonna laugh, you're gonna cry, you're gonna have a great time, and you'll see your own memories tied to music reflected back in you.
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