Eric Johnson, Andy McKee, Peppino D’Agostino Perform

Guitars, guitars, guitars. Throughout the iconic instrument’s long history, a variety of players have wielded the axe, shredding, noodling, soloing, keeping time with chunky chords or getting hips to twitch with syncopated slashes. You’ve heard it in almost every musical genre in the Western world, from punk to jazz to sappy singer songwriter love songs. Most Indianapolis bands feature a guitar in some capacity, and it’s a favorite for budding musicians and perfectionist metalheads alike. The six stringed instrument of choice sounds good in the hands of almost anyone, but certain masters have a style and skill all their own. On Saturday, October 2, residents of Indianapolis can witness three variations on virtuoso guitar at Clowes Memorial Hall when Eric Johnson, Andy McKee, and Peppino D’Agostino strap on their axes and get slinging.

Video of Eric Johnson performing “Cliffs of Dover” in 1990; Eric Johnson will be performing at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis October 2


Probably the most well known guitarist of the evening (at least for Indianapolis music lovers over 30) is Eric Johnson, a Grammy winning guitarist who’s most famous for his hit single, “Cliffs of Dover.” Johnson is no stranger to rejection: it took him over 15 years of playing, writing, and recording before he released his first record that met any sort of success, 1990’s Ah Via Musicom. Prior to that, he was in a fusion group called the Electromagnets that released two albums before fizzling out in 1977. His debut solo album, Seven Worlds (which he finished recording in 1978) was delayed by contract disputes and wasn’t released until 1998, 20 years later. His major label debut, Tones, came out in 1986 and earned Eric Johnson a cover story in Guitar Player magazine; despite the exposure, the album refused to sell, and Johnson’s label dropped him.

Video of Eric Johnson performing “Manhattan” in 1996; Eric Johnson will be playing in Indianapolis October 2

But all these snags to his career didn’t faze Johnson; in 1990, Ah Via Musicom went platinum and earned the guitarist a Grammy for “Best Rock Instrumental Performance.” Now he’s one of the most well known faces in the guitar world. He has performed with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Clapton (who performed at the Verizon Wireless Music Center not too long ago), and has been a guest performer on dozens of other releases. His guitar playing effortlessly switches between styles and influences, incorporating fusion, blues, salsa, and gospel. He’s dynamic and more than a little flashy, making him a great performer for one of the biggest Indianapolis performing arts venues.

Video of Eric Johnson performing in Texas in 2009; Eric Johnson will be playing in Indianapolis October 2


The other two guitarists performing on October 2 at Clowes Memorial Hall may not be as well known as Eric Johnson, but they have plenty of experience to speak for their playing ability. While Johnson performs primarily on electric guitar, Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino both prefer acoustic instrumentation. Andy McKee is a product of our modern, inter-connected, media loving age; he owes much of his success to his incredibly popular YouTube videos, the biggest of which, “Drifting,” has over 32 million views. A fingerstyle guitarist, McKee has been nominated for or won a number of awards for his playing, including first place in the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships and second in the Fingerstyle Guitar Competition in Canada. Over the course of his nearly ten year career, McKee has released five full length albums; in addition, he performed on the best selling album of 2007, Noel, a Christmas album by Josh Groban. His more laid back picking style should be a good compliment to Eric Johnson’s over the top solos.

Video of Andy McKee performing “Drifting” on YouTube; Andy McKee will be playing at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis October 2

Peppino D’Agostino is the final performer on October 2’s bill. A self taught Italian musician, D’Agostino began his career busking in the streets of San Francisco in the 80’s. Nowadays, D’Agostino is almost a household name in the guitar world, hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “among the best talents around.” He was voted Best Acoustic Guitarist by the readers of Guitar Player magazine in 2007, and other awards seem to fall at his feet. The musician certainly possesses excellent technical talent, but it’s his ability to create stirring melodies and emotionally resonant songs that has earned him so much acclaim. His latest, Nine White Kites, is his first set of new songs in a decade, and it spans a musical kaleidoscope of influences and themes. While Andy McKee shot to fame overnight, D’Agostino has painstakingly carved out his impressive niche in the music world.

Video of Peppino D’Agostino performing “Blue Ocean” live; Peppino D’Agostino will be playing at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis October 2


Indianapolis music fans looking to capture the energy, the diversity, and the complexity of the guitar should take a trip to downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, October 2 to see Eric Johnson, Andy McKee, and Peppino D’Agostino at Clowes Memorial Hall. This one time only Indianapolis event promises to be captivating, whether you’re looking for inspiration or entertainment. The concert begins at 8:00 p.m.; tickets range from $35 to $25 for adults and from $30 to $20 for students and senior citizens. Come see three of the best guitarists still playing at one of the largest Indianapolis music venues on Saturday, October 2!

Eric Johnson, Andy McKee, and Peppino D’Agostino at Clowes Memorial Hall
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tickets: $35, $30, $25 for adults, $30, $25, $20 for students and seniors

Clowes Memorial Hall

4602 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208

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