“There are guitarists, there are axe-wielding maniacs, and then there are wizards. Adrian Legg is one of the wizards,” says the Philadelphia Enquirer, of the “Guitarist of the Decade” (Guitarist Magazine — for four consecutive years) who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19 at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, the A-frame house of worship at 2578 Route 212, Woodstock.
A unique and phenomenal entertainer, Legg has been on a quest for the holy grail of guitars for the last few years. “I once met a perfectly stable and well cared-for autistic man. His area of interest and expertise was UK bus timetables, about which he knew and would unstoppably explain everything. I am aware that I sound like him when I start off about the guitar. In short, the instrument industry, some studios, and the stage,” says Legg.
He has a strong connection to Woodstock since he has been using Bill Keith’s tuners on his unique guitars, though they were invented by Keith for the banjo. Legg has incorporated these tuners into his playing. “Bill was a highly significant figure in American music and we were sad to lose him,” says Legg, of the legend who passed away in 2015. The Keith tuners allow Adrian to bend strings utilizing the pegs mid-song.
He is also flawless performer. For Legg, it’s all about the live performance, in which his jocularity and wisdom, combined with his alternating bass fingerstyle lines and harmonics, and with the Keith tuners allowing single and double string bending. He has been called a “kind of cross between Robert Fripp and Garrison Keeler.”
Legg’s first instrument was not a guitar. “The most depressing Christmas present I ever had was a violin, but later as a child I was bullied into playing the oboe. I’d asked for clarinet but apparently I had an ideal double-reed embouchure. I didn’t feel strongly enough about either to protest,” he says.
Of his first stringed instrument, he says “I snuck off and made twangy things out of scraps from the school woodwork bin, but the miserable omnipotents who ruled my life were very sniffy about them and demanded I practice my boring oboe.” Eventually he graduated to the guitar after being a guitar technician in the late 70s and early 80s working for Rose Morris Ltd., which handled Marshall amplification, Ovation guitars and Takamine, and eventually becoming involved in the first prototypes of Trace Acoustic amplifiers.
His fascination for creating new sounds has led him on his endless quest to find the holy grail of guitars. It’s always a quest. “It can always be tweaked. There are some other things I’d like to try out. I did try out a cheapish six-string banjo once, but the people in the shop shut the door on me and left. I’d still like to try a decent quality one. You may know the first instrument described as a ‘lute’ style had a skin top. There’s one in the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix — if I remember correctly, it was called an ‘Ngoni.’”
Legg is working on completing his eighteenth CD, Dead Bankers.
“Vague ideas are floated. But since the demise of the record company spread-betting that financed artists like me, it’s unlikely because I can’t afford recording and production costs. I think the real question is about whether or not that matters —live gigs are still the best way to have music. It’s up to the rest of society to decide whether or not they want to pay for the recording of music. We already held out the begging bowl to finish Dead Bankers and with the help of some great raffle prizes from friends in the instrument industry and my lovely supportive American friends, we scraped enough together to get it out. There is a plan to do a third video instruction course for TrueFire.com but some current debate about its content.”
Legg is as unique a guitar player as they come. “I hope guitar-playing people are finding the True Fire material so far helpful. Otherwise, come to the gig and have fun — the guitar should not be taken too seriously,” says Legg.
For a man who does not take the guitar too seriously Adrian Legg can take you around the universe and back during one of his shows. We are graced to have his presence in Woodstock. He also has an extraordinary sense of humor.
When asked what, his plans were after this tour he answered, “To see if I’m still married and if my grandchildren remember me.’
Adrian Legg will perform at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of the show and can be purchased from www.eventbrite.com, or at the door. St. Gregory’s is the A-frame Church at 2578 Rt. 212, about a half mile east of Route 375.