Luna is Proud to Call Vicki Genfan a Signature Artist
Every now and then an artist comes along whose music reaches out and touches the soul of all who hear them…virtuoso guitarist, singer and composer Vicki Genfan is among those artists… Drawing from folk, jazz, pop, soul and world music, Vicki is redefining ‘singer/songwriter culture.’ With a mastery of the acoustic guitar that borders on pure alchemy, audiences are mesmerized by the waves of sound Vicki creates with just two hands and her voice. Using 29 alternate tunings and the percussive technique she calls ‘slap-tap’, you’ll find the addition of her pure, expressive vocals that dig deep and stir the heart to be the perfect accompaniment on many of her songs. Vicki writes and beautifully sings her own brand of music and lyrics while putting her unmistakable imprint on familiar tunes like the Beatles’ Norweigian Wood. An evening with Vicki is far more than a concert; stories, warmth and humor come gift wrapped in an unforgettable evening of music that leaves the audience always wanting more.
Vicki has been recognized among the world’s greatest guitarists and musicians at festivals such as The International Montreal Jazz Festival, Germany’s Open Strings Guitar Festival, Italy’s Soave Guitar Festival, as well as at venues and Performing Arts Centers across the US and abroad. In 2005 she was one of the featured artists on ‘La Guitara’, the first compilation CD featuring female guitarists from around the globe, released by Vanguard Records. With several additional ground-breaking recordings behind her, recent acquisitions of the 6 string banjo, 12 string and baritone guitars, high demand at clinics and music camps and an ongoing European presence, Vicki continues to reach beyond musical borders and into new territory.
In 2008, Guitar player magazine crowned Vicki their new “Guitar Superstar” at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. In the type of contest that attracts million-notes-per-second guitar shredmeisters, Vicki’s playing stood out for its originality. The 49 year old New Jersey native coaxes, cajoles, slaps and hammers an amazing variety of sounds from her acoustic guitar. Master of ceremonies Andy Summers was joined by a distinguished panel of judges including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Elliot Easton, Brendon Small and George Lynch. Vicki’s style is physical, energetic and totally engaging Check out the video of Vicki playing “Atomic Reshuffle,” the piece that got her the win.
Charlie Doom, from TrueFire sat down with Vicki Genfan for a Fireside Chat
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be and why?
Wow, hard question right off the bat! That question feels like you asked, ‘If you weren’t a human what would you be and why’. I was born this way and I can’t quite imagine it any other way. Now if you’re talking professional musician – that’s another story. I’d love to be a DJ (that’s not a musician, is it?) simply ’cause I love the idea of weaving music together, taking an audience somewhere, hey- wait a minute, sounds just like a musician. OK I’ll try to think outside of my own box here…I love the field of holistic healing and have an alter ego career as a Polarity Therapist and Sound Healer. I’d love to take that work further and study all kinds of multi-cultural methods of figuring out how we humans work, get hurt and can heal. Places where the body, mind and emotions meet and greet one another (so to speak).
Honestly, how many hours a day do you practice?
Honestly, it depends on the day. Sometimes none. Sometimes 1, 2 or 3. I’ve never been a ‘woodshedder’ in the traditional sense. I play for hours when I’m having fun. That’s sort of practicing, it encompasses practicing, but it’s not like hard core practicing. That I do as needed; before a gig, with a new tune, prepping for the Superstar Competition, etc. It’s a fluid thing.
What are you listening to lately?
Hmmm… lotta NPR Radio. Mostly talk. I go through phases. Spend a lot of time in the car (my car doesn’t have a working CD player). Most radio sucks (to me). Actually, I found this video recently and was just thrilled, so you all should go listen to her – Theresa Andersson.
How would you describe the music business today?
Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly; whole new creature. The old form is crumbling and a new paradigm is in the making. It’s exciting. Folks like me and you can really do our own thing with enough motivation and determination. We can get to millions of people without a record contract.
Should world leaders learn how to play guitar? Why?
Sure. Everyone should play guitar. It’s an amazing way to express yourself, anywhere, anytime. World leaders certainly need this.
Let’s talk about what’s going on with you right now, your new album, and what’s next?
New CD – UnCovered – it’s been a whole lot of fun making it. I collaborated with 5 other artists, 4 from Europe (Susan Weinert, Christina Lux, Kerstin Blodig, Sally Barker) and Trina Hamlin from NY. We recorded mostly in Germany, mixed in the states (and on a few airplanes)… it’s a celebration of great songs and really wacky arrangements. It features a bunch of incredible voices and guitarists. A lot of ‘Vicki’ style guitar playing on it. Some of the artists we covered are Sting, Seal, John Lennon, Seals and Crofts, Young Rascals, KT Tunstall….and more! What’s next is to spread the news about the new instructional guitar course for TrueFire, 3D Acoustic Guitar! I’m psyched! Also next is to go into retreat somewhere and write a whole bunch of new music. It’s time. The overall plan is to spread my music as far and wide as possible. I love to travel and to expand my circle of friends and supporters. It’s an honor to play music for a living. I hope to keep on keepin’ on for a long time!
How did you prepare to win Guitar Player magazine’s Guitar Superstar competition?
Very carefully! First of all, I made sure I knew as best as I could, what they were judging us on: technique, uniqueness and performance. I knew that my piece would be about as unique as any piece could be. I knew that if I could relax and enjoy myself while playing, my performance would be really good. The thing I needed to prep for was going to be technique. The biggest stumbling block with Atomic Reshuffle is that my right hand can become very tense by the time I play the very last lines of the song, and if this happens I will totally fumble and screw up the ending. My strategy was to start about a month ahead of time and put in small bits of time whenever I could throughout the day. I would practice challenging lines and sections of the song super slowly and quietly. This enabled me to get the passages down and in my muscle memory correctly while being relaxed. (This is so important!) Simply put, that is how I prepared – and I believe it worked!
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