(GillaZilla Records)


A meeting of the minds guitar album by two versatile acoustic music mavens, Sharky is quite a fantastic and highly entertaining recording of instrumental fretboard magic. Florida-based Richard Gilewitz has released an impressive repertoire of acoustic instrumental guitar recordings, while guitar / mando / dobro ace Tim May is also a highly regarded musician and recording artist based in Nashville. For their joint album from 2018, Sharky is short but sweet—its eight tracks representing a splendid cross section of original songs and several surprising cover versions that prove to work quite well as pop songs done instrumentally by two players who truly know their stuff. Notable are covers of Johnny Smith’s “Walk Don’t Run”, which is also the same song The Ventures turned the world on to as a surf-rock instrumental back in 1960. “Bye Bye Blackbird” is a track that everyone knows and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one that everyone might not know but should, as it’s a heart-tugging song that also works wonders as an instrumental on Sharky. The title track “Sharky” was composed by Tim, Richard and Mike Laidly and is one of the best guitar instrumentals on the album and truth be told, it's one of the best guitar instrumentals of the past year. Speaking about this first-ever duo album release from Richard and Tim, on the GillaZilla Records label, Richard tells, "Pretty much anything Tim elects to do on a tune with his choice of instruments improves everything. He has about the best musical ear of anyone I've ever played with and understands how to use restraint, capture and mirror or react to a melody or groove so I bow down to him for that." One could only hope that Richard and Tim build upon their worthy efforts on Sharky with a follow up disc. Acoustic instrumental guitar / mandolin music played with the utmost precision and respect, Sharky is among the most engaging releases of late 2018 into early 2019. / presents an interview with

: My favorite track on Sharky is the title track, which is one of the coolest acoustic guitar instrumentals ever written. You wrote it with Mike Laidley too? So “Sharky”, the song was written by three musicians?

Richard Gilewitz: The track “Sharky” was originally written by Tim May and Mike Laidley and I just had a rough recorded version of what they had come up with one night. That sat around for a while and I recall Tim and I trying to work it out in my backyard. Can't speak for Tim but I felt like I was forcing it. So I waited. One day while laying on the couch the bridge section almost came out of my hands in one motion and it appeared. I attribute this to hours of listening to it over a long time and it just felt like the missing puzzle piece. I was relieved when I discovered that Tim liked it and we went from there. One of the most infectious tunes on the CD for me…

Tim May: One way that I have always enjoyed co-writing is to have one guy come up with a melody, maybe the main theme or ‘A’ part and then pass it on to somebody else to write a ‘B’ part or chorus or bridge or whatever you want to call it, then both parties come together to fine tune it and finish it. That’s what happened with “Simpleton”… Richard had the main theme, I had the bridge, and "Sharky", Mike Laidley and I wrote the theme together and Richard wrote the bridge. Those two tunes were both written within a year of recording them. Are you prepared for the disappointment? We finished the tune and there was a Shark vacuum cleaner sitting there by the table so “Sharky” came out of somebody’s mouth: after toiling artistically for the whole evening we just didn’t have any ‘art’ left to devote to a creative name so that’s what we ended up with. Yes, it’s a three-way write.

mwe3: How about “Mr. Simpleton’s Little Red Shoes”? Interesting title! When is that one from? You say that’s an original and a co-write too?

Richard Gilewitz: Tim, Gretchen and I play almost every year in a school program for the children of Rock Springs Wyoming in December… that's right, Wyoming in December! When we were setting up in a gymnasium I was knocking out the licks for the opening just as a sort of warm up and it got Tim’s attention. That night we worked on it together in the hotel and hashed out a bridge section he had in mind and I went to work on fine tuning a few picking patterns in an attempt to avoid predictability but stay with the melodic theme he had in mind. As Tim said "I 'Gilewized' it!" The title amuses me because when I originally recorded the original theme on my phone I came up with the title realizing that it has absolutely no meaning at all, references nothing, and I am utterly clueless where it came from. I just found it amusing and it stuck!

mwe3: What makes the combination of acoustic guitar and mandolin such a unique sound in your estimation? What guitars, mandolin and dobro are you guys playing on the Sharky CD and do you have any endorsements on guitars and other musical gear?

Richard Gilewitz: Pretty much anything Tim elects to do on a tune with his choice of instruments improves everything. He has about the best musical ear of anyone I've ever played with and understands how to use restraint, capture and mirror or react to a melody or groove so I bow down to him for that. My endorsements are currently with D'Addario strings, LR Baggs, Shubb capos, Mel Bay publications, TrueFire and Wolfram Slides. In the past I have been a clinician and sponsored by Peavey electronics, Tacoma guitars and Breedlove guitars.

Tim May: Yes, endorsements with Preston Thompson guitars, Collings mandos, and I endorse my own Resophonic guitar (dobro) that I made, the ResoMay. Other endorsements LR Baggs, Shubb capos. Since a lot of the arrangements stand alone, I’m always trying to just embellish and not distract. Mandolin tends to accomplish this easier than guitar for the obvious reason that Richard is already playing guitar. Since he normally plays by himself, it is somewhat of a formulae I use to let him play how he normally would without changing much to accommodate me and that’s why a lot of what you hear on the album sounds like I am echoing what he is doing, almost a call-and-response approach.

mwe3: “Walk Don’t Run” is a standard that’s been covered by so many artists over the decades. In what ways did you decide to put a new spin on that track?

Richard Gilewitz: This is an arrangement by my guitar teacher of over forty years, David Walbert who I originally met at the University of Alabama in 1977. He still lives in Birmingham, is one of the three inventors of Trivial Pursuit, and to this day pretty much is the most musical human I've met on the planet. This is his arrangement that had been lying around for quite awhile and I knew it would be a challenge. Both Tim and I had to up our game to nail this one just right. David is almost strictly a classical player but has several stunning arrangements, which is pretty much simply put, his passion and bag!

Tim May: The great guitar arrangement was already in place and pretty self-sufficient, so I went with mandolin vs guitar, came up with some harmony parts and a little improv. Mando stays out of the way more and lets me sort of float around Richard’s parts.

mwe3: What brought on the cover of the Leonard Cohen’s “Hallellujah” and what did the David Walbert arrangement bring to your version?

Richard Gilewitz: Once again this is a typical arrangement by David Walbert and there is always something about his arrangements where they feel 'chiseled' down to perfection, in this case a very simplistic form catering to the melody. I'll never forget David once saying during a lesson, "I don't think a lot of musicians understand how to effectively use silence in music." This arrangement almost feels like it desires an 'air' underneath so it is allowed to breathe.

mwe3: What period does “Have You Ever Seen A Rainbow At Night” come from? How was it inspired by The Blue Penguins Of Oamaru and is there also a classical influence on that track?

Richard Gilewitz: Longer story where the title came from but in a nutshell I was listening to someone in Picton, New Zealand go on and on with some story and she suddenly interjected the question - "Have you ever seen a rainbow at night?" That comment stuck with me the whole tour and when I was down in Oamaru New Zealand, home of the Blue Penguin I played a club cleverly titled, The Penguin Club. 296 penguins came out of the water, waddled over to the club, crawled under the floorboards, simultaneously puked, and waddled back to the water. So they deserve a tune!

mwe3: “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is a tune that just about everyone has heard. What was your approach to it as the Sharky version has a nice steady, flowing arrangement by David Walbert. It’s clearly another Sharky highlight.

Richard Gilewitz: Once again, simply put, another typical Walbert arrangement with air underneath. Restraint. Allows the beauty of the melody to exist. And why not do a tune that Elvis sang?

Tim May: Great Walbert arrangement decided to go with Resophonic to again stay out of the way but provide a little sustained vibrato, harmony, etc...

mwe3: The Sharky version of “Bye Bye Blackbird” is brilliant as it also brings in the violin of Gretchen Priest-May. What made you bring in the violin? Seems like a natural sound to add to the Sharky album sound. When did you first hear that song and how favorite versions of the song?

Richard Gilewitz: I originally got going on this with my Australian friend Mark Russell. His band toured with Dire Straits all over Australia playing to over 50 sold out stadiums. He introduced me to this tune and it was a way for me to learn how to play background rhythm and let someone else carry the melody. I am a soloist so this was a new and fun approach, which allowed me to finally have something to bring to the table when playing with others.

Tim May: Richard, along with Gretchen, my wife and I have done a lot of playing together, so we wanted to get her on a track. She grew up playing this tune as a duet with a guitar player in South Bend Indiana, and it’s always been one of my favorites because of its somewhat unique harmony. Miles Davis’ version is the one I heard that really caught my ear. Richard knocked out some strong jazz rhythm on this one.

mwe3: How about the final track “Little Alex”? Interesting that is was inspired by a dog Richard met in Australia? God I love Australia.

Richard Gilewitz: The name of a dog in Brisbane, Australia and I watched him scurry quickly along the floor doing a dance, his feet hit carpet... so I included a 'palm mute' to simulate dog feet on carpet. Then he slid across some tile floor with a panicked look on his face, hit a table leg, got knocked out. You'll hear all of that in the tune and, then as he recovered, he seemed like a cartoon dog getting his senses back, got back to his original dance, added a dance and at the end took a bow. How could you not write a tune about that?!


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