"Acoustik Guitar" is John H. Clarke's most ambitious album production yet. The voyage of turning a continually evolving concept into reality took nearly two years to achieve. After many revisions and a lot of work the results are well worth the wait.
Once the music was all written and decided upon, John went on a search for a special guitar just for this album. He wanted the sound to be rich and beautiful. He finally found what he was looking for, a "Rodriguez" by acclaimed guitar maker Kenny Hill. After playing it in the shop for just a few minutes John new it was the nicest sounding guitar he had ever laid his hands on.
But having the right sounding guitar is only part achiving great sound. The knowledge of how to capture the true essence of the guitar in a recording is also critical. John needed an expert engineer/producer that specialized specifically in recording nylon string guitar. He was fortunate to find that one of the best in the field actually lived nearby. John began the recording process with Vincent Go of VGo Recordings in October 2006.
The CD is divided into three sections.
Part I has five songs arranged for small ensemble. The primary instrument (the guitar of course) is accompanied by a tastefull and simple collection of acoustic instruments including: cello, upright bass, violins, percussion, and a few other subtle surprises. The music in Part I is lively, incorporating rhythmic strumming and interwoven melodic lines. John's techniques are similar to those found in the Flamenco and Latin American guitar playing traditions. A lot of John's music is akin to the likes of Rodrigo Y Gabriella, Gypsy Kings, and Ottmar Liebert.
Part II is purely solo guitar featuring spanish and classical guitar favorites such as Malaguena and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. John's performance of these pieces is in inspired by and in the vein of great classical guitarists such as Segovia, Julian Bream, and John Williams.
Part III is made up of five improvisational pieces for two guitars. The idea behind this section is the value of spontaneous communication on a musical level. Instead of being composed and premeditated, the music is "told" much like someone telling you a story about their life. These are introspective, melodic, and provocative works that will engage your imagination.
John H. Clarke was born in Southern California, grew up in San Jose, CA and now resides in San Francisco.
He had an deep interest in music from an early age. He started taking guitar lessons when he was 11 and wanted to be a rock and roll star. As a rebellious teenager he didn't stick with his lessons and decided to teach himself. As a teen and young adult John was heavily influenced by the variety of music found on college and independent radio. He loved world and traditional music and their infusion with modern approaches to music. In effort to explore the rich tradition and roots of the guitar, John began learning about flamenco, Latin American and classical styles. John now plays nylon string Spanish made guitars almost exclusively.
In college, John put music on the back burner to pursue his deep interest in activism and social justice issues. He received his BA degree in the social science field from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He did manage to take a few music classes in college and he was a member of the UCSC Latin American Music Ensemble for two years.
After college John went to live in Mexico where he taught English for the University of Guadalajara. A year later he moved to Boston, MA. After a few jobs in the non-profit sector John re-discovered that music was his what made him truly happy. It happened in the humid subways of Boston where he began to play solo guitar as a street performer. The positive reaction and appreciation he got convinced him to make music his career.
John now works full-time as a guitarist and composer in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a featured musician for the world famous tourist attractions Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, and The Cannery at Del Monte Square in San Francisco.
In addition to promoting his new CD and performing around the SF bay area John has several other projects in the works. He is currently producing music videos featuring songs from “Acoustik Guitar” which will be posted on YouTube.
Due to the enthusiastic response and requests he has gotten from the YouTube community for the sheet music to his compositions, he will also be publishing a music book that will include complete transcriptions of ten of his original works for guitar. Instructional videos will also be added to You Tube as a free benefit all those interested in learning the guitar.