Tony Savarino has guitar playing down to a science on his 2010 CD
appropriately entitled Guitaring. Having been a mainstay on
the Boston area music scene over the past 25+ years, Tonys experience
backing up various artists translates to his first instrumental guitar
extravaganza that blends all manners of instrumental guitar-based
music with rock, rock n roll and jazzy, bluesy and sometimes
funky guitar instrumentals. After hearing Guitaring, youd
be right if you think that Savarino sounds like a modern Les Paul.
Although most guitarists never quite attain that level of sophistication
of merging pop and jazz into that quite heady a stew, you really have
to give Tony credit for making such a bold instrumental album. Not
only does Tony write his own music but he also has a thing for covering
his musical heroeshere tackling music by George Gershwin (a
highly unusual track called Rialto Ripples), Brian Eno
(a hypnotic piece that sounds like Eno with guitarist Dan Lanois or
even Jerry Garcia) and David Rose (a track called Holiday For
Strings from the same guy who wrote The Stripper).
Elsewhere on the CD, Savarino also gives a tip of the musical hat
to Nashville guitar hero Joe Maphis, while also serving up a rousing
surf-rock jewel called Russian Roulette and, there's much
more including a CD closing cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers favorite,
Christines Songthe lone vocal herethat
spotlights nifty vocals from Ajda Snyder. Throughout the 11
cut Guitaring CD, Savarino gets solid backing from his band
with other fine players lending their talents. Calling Savarino an
eclectic guitar connoisseur would be an understatement. Just for the
sheer amount of instrumental guitar based intelligence unearthed and
brought to life here, Savarino deserves a standing ovation. www.TonySavarino.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Whats your background with the guitar and when and where
did you start playing guitar?
SAVARINO: I was born and raised in Boston. My father was a nuclear
physicist and my mother is a painter. There was always a guitar lying
around the house. Story has it when I was 4 or 5 my parents took me
to a flea market and I picked up this guitar walked off with it. My
father of course paid for it. I didn't start taking lessons till I
was 11. My first teacher was this guy named Ted. He was the music
teacher at school. He came to my house. He taught me all my open chords.
My first pentatonic scale. He taught me the some Chuck Berry rhythm
guitar and some of his signature licks.
mwe3: Can you remember your first guitar and who were / are some of
your big guitar heroes?
TS: My first guitar was the acoustic I tried to nick at the flea market,
my second guitar was some cheap electric thing. Can't remember the
name. It was kind of like a Strat / Jazzmaster copy.
Guitar heroes.... well I have a lot and the list keeps getting bigger!
The first guitar solo that kind of hit me was the solo to "Rock
Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & The Comets. I first heard
that while watching the opening credits to "Happy Days".
I then became obsessed with Elvis's "Hound Dog" and some
other of his Sun hits and early RCA hits.
Another big hero and still is is Keith Richards. When I first heard
"Satisfaction" the guitar sound just floored me. It sounded
alien to me. How the hell does he do that? The Beatles have always
been a huge influence.
I also got into a lot of glam, punk and new wave guitar players: Mick
Ronson, Johnny Ramone, Steve Jones, Elliot Easton, Ron Ashton (Psychedelic
Furs), Mick Jones (Clash), Keith Levine (PiL).
When I got into middle school into high school I started getting more
into classic rock/metal: Zeppelin, Hendrix, Sabbath, the first Cult
album. I figured out their tunes best I could.
also discovered Van Halen. That changed everything. Then I discovered
Randy Rhodes. That changed everything again. Then I heard Yngwie Malmsteen..
After that I sold my soul to any guitarist Mike Varney put on his
label! I really got into shred guitar: Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore,
Paul Gilbert, Greg Howe, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman... I also discovered
Albert Lee he amazed me as well! There are some guitar players in
Boston that were heroes: Nuno Bettencourt, Rich Gilbert, Gary Hoey
(my rock teacher), Rob Knockowitz, Joe Zucalla (my classical teacher),
Stan Corinopolis, Paul Dibartolo (Bang/Spread Eagle). I was a huge
thrash metal fan: Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth.
When I got to Berklee I discovered Steve Vai, Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth,
Scott Henderson, Tommy Bolin and I rediscovered Jimi Hendrix. My teachers
there were also some of my heroes: Jim Kelly, Jon Finn and Charles
Chapman as well as some of my fellow students: John Deservio, Brian
Tichy (most people know him as a sick drummer but he is a sick guitar
player as well), Dorian Heartsong, Geoff Unger, Paul Alves, David
Steel, Terry Syrek to name a few.
After I got out of Berklee I started getting more into country guys:
Brent Mason, Vince Gill and Danny Gatton which turned me on to more
jazz players like Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Charlie Christian and
George Benson. I am also really into cow jazz guys like Hank Garland,
Joe Maphis, Speedy West, Phil Baugh, Leon Rhodes. Blues guys like
Buddy, BB, and Albert King.
Boston has some great guitar players. I am very lucky to live here
because a lot of my heroes I can call friends: Duke Levine, Kevin
Barry, Billy Loosgian, Jimmy Scopa, Jerry Miller, Russell Chudnofsky,
Lyle Brewer, Charles Hansen, Chris Blue, Scott Tarulli, Joe Feloni,
Current players I also love are Birelli Lagrene, Guthrie Govan, Joe
Bonamassa, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Jimmy Campilongo and PJ Harvey.
I have also been rediscovering Uli John Roth, Michael Schenker, Jeff
Beck, Robert Smith, Johnny Marr and George Lynch.
What were some of the parameters you had when you set out to create
your new Guitaring CD and why did you call the album Guitaring?
TS: The first time I got an itch to record a solo album was when I
got into Mike Varney's column "Hometown Heroes" in Guitar
World Magazine back in '93. I got too busy touring and put the idea
on the back burner then lost interest. I really didn't think I could
say anything new with the guitar that hadn't been said already. I
also wasn't that inspired. Then I started listening to some of the
older country and jazz guys and these albums seemed like albums anybody
could enjoy, not just guitar nerds like me. At this point I was doing
a lot of sessions for students at The New England Art Institute. I
was playing on power pop, singer-songwriter sessions, metal sessions,
R&B and Gospel stuff. They have a label called Naked Ear and the
president of label Barry Marshall I have known since I was a kid.
He was the producer on a lot of these sessions. He encouraged me to
make a solo record and said I could record it at the school and he
would put it out.
Most solo guitar records I hear fall into one of four categories:
shred albums, SRV blues albums, jam band albums and avant gard weirdo
jazz albums. I wanted to stay away from that. I wanted something anybody
could put on and enjoy, whether you were driving, on a desert island,
in a lounge or at a barbecue. Whether you're a guitar player, mom,
dad, son, daughter...I wanted to introduce folks to some guitar players
I love that you don't hear about either like: Phil Baugh, Joe Maphis,
Roy Lanham, Brent Mason. I also wanted to try and interpret some music
that wasn't necessarily guitar music on guitar (i.e. "Deep Blue
Day" by Brian Eno).
I had a lot of fun with this record. The name came from a guitar student
of mine. He referred to guitar playing as "Guitaring." I
took it and ran with it. When I like someone's guitar playing I'll
say, That was some real nice Guitaring! It's this word
that just became a part of my everyday vocabulary.
mwe3: What drew you to the Gershwin piece on the album Rialto
Ripples? It seems like a very unusual choice!
TS: That's a funny story. Barry Marshall and I were brain storming
tune ideas for the CD. He says something like pick some simple
standards. Like a Gershwin tune. Famous last words (lol). He
was probably thinking "I Got Rhythm" or something like that.
I started listening to clips on iTunes of Gershwin tunes. "Rialto"
comes up and it reminded me of "Got a Match?" by Chick Corea.
I figured out the head and down the rabbit hole I went. When I came
out the other side it sounded like a mutated Gypsy Jazz thing. Completely
non intentional. My band always sweats that song cause it has so many
mwe3: Who plays with you on the CD and do you have a band that you
TS: The CD is full of ringers I have done sessions with over the years
Boston. I call them "The Satanic Lounge Syndicate". The
band on the CD is: DrumsMike Levesque, Steve Hart, Matthew Burwell
and Jesse Mayer. KeysTom West, Eric Welsh and David Zerio. BassJames
Haggerty, Rich Cortese, Sean McLaughlin and Tom Carnali. VibesPhil
Neighbors. VocalsAjda the Turkish Queen, Keith Bennett. Steel
GuitarTim Obetz and Mike Castellana. GuitarDaanen Krouth.
The Syndicate live experience is a rotating cast. Most
of players mentioned from above with some new additions: Conor SmithFiddle,
Mando, Rusty Scottaccordian and Hammond B3 Organ. Joel Simchesbass,
and Yuri Zbitinoff and Jared Seabrook on drums. Another one of my
drummers who plays in my band is Mike Piehl. Basically my live band
is anyone who can play and is available!
mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the Guitaring album and
what are your favorite guitars, amps, strings and effects?
Guitars include a 2002 Fender Standard Tele, Gretsch Tennessee Rose,
Joe Maphis Mosrite, '68 Les Paul Custom, '77 Les Paul STD, Gammer
Acoustic, Old K Kustum Jazz Box, Danelectro Baritone, a EJ Fender
Strat, Fender Jazzmaster.
Amps: Dr. Z Mas 18, Swart Spacetone, Fender Deluxe mod-ed by Rob Dettorre
at DST Maps, Marshall JMP 100 watt, Vox AC30, Fender Vibroking, and
a Line 6 POD.
Effects: Analogman TS9, Keely four knob compressor, Fulltone echoplex,
T-rex delay, Wizard Wah, Dr. Science tremolo, Fulltone Fulldrive,
Analog Man chorus, Fuzz Factory, DST Clean boost.
My strings are typically Ernie Ball '10's on the Fenders except the
Jazzmaster, I use 11's, all the other are D'Addarios 11s. I
use Dunlop jazz 3 picks.
mwe3: Theres an interesting cover on Guitaring of the
Flying Burrito Brothers Christines Song. Thats
an usual way to close an instrumental guitar album! What song comes
in after that song that ends up closing the CD?
TS: I'm in a band called Black Fortress Of Opium with my girlfriend
Ajda. It's kinda of like Nick Cave meets PJ Harvey meets the Velvet
Underground so this tune might not be a good fit for the band. She's
from Texas and loves a good country tune. That tune came on the local
college radio station WZBC one Sunday morning while we we're driving.
We really love the tune and I wanted to include her on the CD so I
asked her if she would oblige me.
mwe3: What are your plans for 2011 and beyond?
TS: Well I keep praying to the guitar gods for a pick and string endorsement!
(lol) Beyond practicing, teaching my forty-something private students,
doing local sessions and gigging with a wide range of artists, I am
currently recording the follow up to Guitaring called Guitaresque.
We should be mixing by August and have that out in late fall! I am
very blessed to have my life full of Guitaring!
Thanks to Tony Savarino @ www.tonysavarino.com