"People hear a solo acoustic guitar and they immediately think 'Easy Listening' or 'New Age,' says NY-based guitarist, composer, performer and educator Vincent DeMasi. "But I find those labels a bit limiting because the music on Sketches for Sofia culls inspiration from so many musical sources. For example, 'Mordecai Brown' is a nod to Celtic-inspired English folk guitarists like Davey Graham and Bert Jansch, while the harmonic tapping in 'Steeplechase' is an attempt—in my own limited way—to conjure the multi-layered magic of Michael Hedges. 'Reverend Blues' is a straight-up blues that's informed by the fingerstyle playing of Robert Johnson and the rolling stride-piano runs of James P. Johnson, while 'Train to Babylon' was written after hearing the Gypsy/Balkan Folk music of 12-string guitarist Neil Jacobs. And then there's "The Ballad of Strawberry Rose,' which certainly isn't Bach per se, but does use classical guitar-style counterpoint."
Most of the CD was recorded on a Martin 000C-16GTE acoustic but in order to create as many different musical textures as possible, DeMasi employed several customized guitar tunings on different tracks. Some parts were also overdubbed with a hi-strung (aka Nashville-tuned) Washburn acoustic and a 1930-ish Gibson tenor banjo. He explains, "People who have heard the CD seem to enjoy the fact that it's dreamy and mellow and I appreciate that, but I'm also hoping musicians— guitarists especially— will be able to pick out all the different underlying influences and techniques I tried to incorporate."
Aside from performing to promote Sketches for Sofia, DeMasi also plays with NJ-based original ensemble The Lloyd United, teaches at the New York City Guitar School, and writes as a freelancer for Guitar Player magazine. He has also performed on Broadway and with several national tours/acts, and contributed music transcriptions and articles to Guitar World, Acoustic Guitar World and Frets magazines.