Some have called Marc Atkinson’s music “gypsy jazz”.
Over the phone line, I could almost feel Atkinson shrug: “It’s a common denominator,” he says. “The fact that I play the guitar, I get associated with it.”
And audience members often ask him if he is influenced by various guitar players and he sometimes has to admit he hasn’t heard of some of them.
“Some of my melodies have a folksy sound and some have Brazilian,” he says. “But that is the nature of music.
“When I sit down to compose music for a concert, I ask myself, What do I want to hear?
“I like to create an evening with a beginning, middle and end. There will be explosive guitar moments as well as more soulful, melodic ballads and some recognizable music … but with a twist.
“We always put a twist on it.”
He says this is how his trio – Joey Smith on standup bass and Michael Hamilton (“The young man on the scene”) on rhythm guitar – creates a full, fresh experience for audiences.
“We like them to walk away very complete and happy.”
One thing that everyone can agree on is Atkinson’s skill with a guitar.
He’s been at it for almost 30 years. He plays mandolin with The Bills (he is a co-founder) and electric guitar with The Marc Atkinson Electric Project.
His finger work is precise and fast.
“After years of playing an instrument, you get pretty relaxed,” he says, respectfully self-effacing with the question.
“I’m not really trying hard anymore to be that fast. It is more a state of mind like in any art form – dance or acting or kung fu, you name it – it is always the same story: you get into the zone and you aren’t thinking about it all the time.
“But the nice thing about the acoustic guitar is (besides the amplifier and the guitar pedals) that it is all in the fingers.”
On The Marc Atkinson Trio IV, its latest CD, Atkinson played a Nyberg Marquis. But he says this guitar is set up for recording and has a “heavier action”. So, when he appears at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, in Haines Junction, on Saturday, Oct. 17, and on the Yukon Arts Centre stage for a Jazz on the Wing performance, Sunday, he will be playing a Shelley Tark guitar.
“I don’t want to get worn out,” says Atkinson. “The Shelley is lighter.
“I’ll be in Ottawa on Thursday, Nanaimo on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday in the Yukon. I need to make sure the guitar is nice and friendly to use.”
So, does all this mean The Marc Atkinson Trio doesn’t have a “sound”?
“Oh, we do have a sound; it’s recognizable … if only as an acoustic guitar played on the West Coast by a trio.”
Tickets for the Haines Junction performance Saturday, Oct. 17, are available at the door. For the Yukon Arts Centre performance on Sunday, tickets can be purchased from the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office and Arts Underground.
Both performances are at 7:30 p.m.
Samples of The Marc Atkinson Trio’s music can be heard at www.marcatkinson.com.