Thumbsing has been a few years in the making and it is an example of Richard Gilewitz's uncompromising desire to produce an album that illustrates his love of the guitar. From beginning to end, Thumbsing is truly a thumbprint of instrumental "singings" from the guitar.
The album features seven original songs by Richard and six very contrasted covers including a 16th century lute piece composed by Alonso de Mudarra and the traditional "Freight Train" by Elizabeth Cotten.
Thumbsing begins with its title song, "Thumbsing". Penned by Richard as a challenge to himself in that he plays with just his right thumb using only down strokes.
"Wazamataz", premiered live at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville as part of Muriel Anderson's "All Star Guitar Night" Tribute to Chet Atkins, is written in a lively, finger snapping alternating bass style.
"Have You Ever Seen a Rainbow at Night?", completed in New Zealand during a rainy downpour, was first played on a nylon-string guitar. A playful nursery rhyme of a melody skips throughout the song, producing an instant desire to hum this tune.
"Daughter of Pete's Feet" pushes the envelope of the blues genre as Richard's first slide tune on his 6 string-guitar. It's a contagious rhythmic selection with a blues groove that immediately locks in the listener.
In the tradition of the folk hit "Cripple Creek", "Pete's Feet" is a fast paced tune that spawned "Daughter of Pete's Feet". This spunky, toe tapping little gem features Richard's left hand playing all the way up to the 19th fret.
Originally composed while missing the first string on the guitar, "Sarah Natasha" is Richard's salute to his niece, for whom the song is titled. When the song was completed, Richard suddenly remembered to change his strings and realized that there was room for only one note on the first string. Players will have to guess which one is that note!
Classical selections include Richard's gentle contribution of a Bach prelude and Alonso de Mudurra's complex "Fantasia". This wonderful 16th century lute piece is recorded on a steel string guitar - possibly the first time ever by an artist.
The uniquely sounding Papoose Guitar adds a whimsical mood to the 45-second version of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train. It's a short and sweet Traditional folk offering.
"Layover", one of Michael Hedges signature pieces, was chosen by Richard to honor this innovative player. It's in an unusual tuning of DACGCE.
Sitting on the edge of the stage following an appearance with John Renbourn and Clive Carroll at the Blackstone River Theatre in Rhode Island, Richard asked the composer of "The Hermit" for some technical guidance. Smiling with delight, John indicated his pleasure in Richard's intention to record his tune, as he has not played it in a number of years.
The rendition of a John Fahey standard, "Sunflower River Blues", continues Richard's ever present quest to preserve the legacy of the "father" of American primitive steel string guitar.
And finally, a much-requested solo 12-string rendition of the 1996 "Dirt To Dust" - exactly as Richard performs it live in concert with the haunting introduction, "Gypsy Minor" and a revised middle section.
Based in Florida, Richard Gilewitz has traveled the world, playing to audiences from New Zealand to North Dakota to Ireland and the UK. His popular program, "Fingerstyle Guitar through Time", embraces the wide range of his style as he combines the influences of blues, folk, classical, and traditional sounds for his own voice. His experience has taken him to concert stages with such artists as John Renbourn, John Fahey, Steve Morse, Leo Kottke, Richard Thompson, Adrian Legg, Taj Mahal, and John Hammond.
In addition to his concert performances, Richard conducts his ever-popular Dealer Guitar and Sound Workshop Program, teaches private individual lessons and master classes, and visits schools and universities as part of his "Meet the Artist" School Program for young students. Richard continues to contribute to the literary and musical world as author of his own self-published song books (released in English and French), as well as those published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
Thumbsing was produced by Wayne Brown and Richard Gilewitz, recorded and engineered by Wayne Brown at Greenbrier Music in Greenbrier, Alabama and mastered by Mike Fuller at Fullersound in Miami, Florida. The 13-piece CD was recorded in 24-bit digital with 2 microphones, no overdubbing and exclusively with Tacoma Guitars (6 and 12-steel string and the Papoose). A diary of the recording session is available from the Greenbrier Music website at greenbriermusicshop.com. More information about Richard Gilewitz can be found at richardgilewitz.com.