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Peter Huttlinger : Show Review : Chicago: 12.23.2002

by Dave Dalka

As I arrive at the Woodstock Opera House about an hour before the show, I park and take a two minute walk through the towns charming, turn of the century, Christmas light lit square where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed. Once inside, all the artist's performing at Ed Hall's guitar once a season guitar night are setting up CD stands inside this room decorated with many Christmas trees decorated in beautiful and unique styles on all sides. I chat with Peter for a few minutes about such things as his love of Larry Carlton, his ESPN fishing exploits (the song "Brown Bomber" is named after a fishing lure), winning the 2000 Fingerstyle champion award at the Walnut Valley Festival and his genuine excitement about hopefully being exposed to a new fan base by being on the Favored Nations label.

While I have always loved acoustic guitar work, it's usually been experienced for me through the odd one or two acoustic songs during a rock show. A whole generation of people has not been exposed to "modern acoustic" music on a large scale, while my dad who I attended the event said the event brought back memories of the type of musical entertainment he used to enjoy often, only today's version is much better in terms of quality and sound.

Seeing and listening to organized recordings by people who pursue perfection in what I am going to start calling the "modern acoustic" arena has been a refreshing and quite welcome addition to my music collection. All of this is due to Steve Vai's Favored Nations Acoustic label and my completely random encounter with it. The sad truth is that there are a lot of potential fans of this style of music that don't even know it exists due to basic lack of necessary exposure in everyday 21st century life. Currently, a large portion of the fan base is other players who read guitar magazines. The performers on this label are all outstanding and include: Peter Huttlinger, Peppino D'Agostino, Adrain Legg and Tommy Emmanuel.

Although I'm here to see Peter Huttlinger, the list of people participating in the event is impressive and includes Ed Hall, Pat Donahue and Harvey Reid. While all are excellent fingerstyle champions in their own right, Peter Huttlinger and Harvey Reid were a definitely a notch above the other players on this night. Apparently, they were a notch above previous guests at this event as well as I overheard the house manager say during the intermission that, "I've never seen such a talented line-up at this event before."

  Peter Huttlinger Setlist
01 Santa Rita Connection
02 The Christmas Song, Josie and Brown Bomber

Although the rotating turns with multiple styles make flow and energy building difficult, Peter's up tempo performance was mesmerizing to the crowd at his every turn, not a word was spoken, except of one person who annoyingly yelled an irritated "what?" to someone who was apparently upset with having their gaze at Peter's busy hands interrupted by someone. Peter was extremely gracious to the other players and frequently joined in on some of their songs, not all the players did this comfortably or at all. What is really neat about that is the random and unrehearsed nature of it, all too often we see live music today that is pre-rehearsed and the same night after night, town to town. It was truly a joy to experience.

I left wanting to see more of Peter, uninterrupted and playing for an extended period of time. I asked Peter afterwards if it was frustrating to travel all that way only to play a few songs and he said that sometimes it was. Peter and Harvey completely sold out of the CD's that they had brought with them to sell, the crowd loved them both. Speaking of CD's give those two clips I've provided you a listen you will want to pick up Peter's "Naked Pop" release, a CD primarily full of pop songs that you know all done acoustically.

I look forward to my next encounter with Peter Huttlinger in a live environment. You should too…

Related Link(s):
Official site www.petehuttlinger.com
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