For many, this CD is a must-listen. More solemn than his others, this CD, which includes the Powhatan Suite, speaks of Stephen's deep respect for the natives of this country. About the suite, he says, "After reading a couple of books recently on the early interactions betweeen the incoming Europeans and the native peoples of Virginia, I was moved to try to make some musical pictures of certain events and individuals; soundtracks in my head. The 400th anniversary of the establishment of the English settlement at Jamestown is coming up soon and likely to be celebrated in a big way here in Virginia, which is fine. It's just that reading about it more closely, one doesn't get much of a sense of the heroic..."
So, What's Unique about Stephen Bennett?
The testimony of concert-goers is that his work is the product of both mind and heart, intellectually challenging and emotionally satisfying - - and it is deeply personal, even as it is universal. Listeners have a feeling that they have stepped into the world of the musician, and for a short moment in time, there are only the two of them there.
Says reviewer Kim Korman Brown, with the World Community Network in Norfolk, Virginia, "With his ear near the body of the harp guitar, Mr. Bennett gave the impression of a father cradling a newborn baby . . . His performance was imbued with heart and grace." Joe Morgan, producer of a Texas Guitar Festival, writes, "His music . . . draws the listener in. He has the ability to make you feel as though you are a part of the music he is making. There are many amazing guitar players that are not able to make that statement. . . . he's also one of the nicest people I've ever known. That comes through in his music as well."
Want to know what his fans say?
About the Performer
"Stephen Bennett is a world class guitarist! He is a virtuoso player on the six-string guitar and the harp guitar. He is an important part of our Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention every year in Nashville. He is a wonderful composer and arranger, and I am sure you will be amazed at his music! Mark Pritcher, President, Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, 12/9/02
"He has come to be known as an acoustic guitar master . . . Bennett offers a variety from fiercely flat-picked fiddle tunes, to delicate fingerstyle arrangements of anything from the Beatles to Tchaikovsky, with thoughtful expression, melodic inventiveness, and impeccable control over the
instrument." -Walnut Valley Reviews, 2002
"Bennett plays in an insistently expressive manner with a precise, vigorous attack and flawless timing. . . He bends, stretches and wrings out simple, direct melodies on the ballads and can fire off convoluted phrases that string together all manner of syncopated, hammered-on and pulled off single
notes, harmonics and crosspicked arpeggios on diminished runs, chromatic scales and suspended major and minor ninth chords on the faster tunes."
-Walnut Valley Reviews, 1989
"Count me a fan. It's amazing to me that the man can produce so many beautiful notes without obviously moving his fingers. I am mesmerized. I love Stephen's stage presence. He's a consummate musician and gentle humorist who's sensitive and accessible to his audience. He can play a piece so poignantly that there are audible sniffles throughout the hall, then with just a subtle shift in tempo and some tricky fingering he can make us all chuckle - - a musician magician. And he's right: under certain stage lights his hair does look a little gray. Simply amazing.
-J. Holley Watts, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 11/15/02
About the Composer/Arranger
"His own compositions are great, and his arrangements of well-known tunes are refreshing, full of new ideas; it seems as if he has composed these songs anew."
- Bernd Weber, German guitar festival promoter, 11/28/02
"His compositions are so beautiful, filled with great emotion and great sensitivity. He is one of those musicians who serve the music, and only the music."
-Regis Yagoubi, President, Guitar Picking Association, Douai, France
"His original compositions are pieces of real art. When you become familiar with them, you feel the best addiction you can ever feel: you can't leave them behind. You need to keep them with you as good companions who help you walk through your days with that positive attitude that lets you face life as something that's always worth the living."
-Pierpaolo Adda, Music Journalist and festival promoter, Italy, 11/18/02
About the Teacher
"The DVFJA hosted one of its best workshops with the awesomely talented Stephen Bennett . . ."
"Stephen is a wonderful, gifted performer and a great teacher. All the members of the guitar workshop which Stephen led before the concert said that they never had learned so much, so many interesting and helpful things, in one afternoon.
-Bernd Weber, Germany, 11/28/02
About the Person
"Stephen is our Virginian on the border. He brings the tradition of his art to a world receptive to the sound of his music and the world of the guitar. That his guitar adds yet a new dimension to this home of the Mariachi, the corrido and the guitaristas is his gift to us. That he was here with us when the bombing began in Afghanistan and he chose to open his set with the national anthem has bonded him to us and to this region forever . . We kinda think a lot of the guy, in case you can't tell."
-Virginia Ness, Arts Director, Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso, Texas, 11/19/02
"He's known for his stage presence and sense of humor as much as his amazing guitar skills."
- Seacoast Guitar Society, 3/11/01
"Stephen has a wonderful sense of humor and made the room feel like it was on a magic carpet ride."
-Delaware Valley Fingerstyle Guitar Association, 2002
'I was scheduled to fly to Kansas the following day to perform at the Walnut Valley Acoustic Music Festival but found my flight canceled in the wake of this terrible tragedy. I was finally able to catch a flight when service resumed and walked onto the stage at midnight on Friday. I quickly came to realize that people need music and that what musicians do is important. Our job is to bring beauty to people's ears and hearts. Other artists perform a similar task in other ways. This is not a trivial pastime or a self-centered pursuit. A good musical performance is an inclusive experience shared by the artist and the listener.'"
From an interview in Chesapeake Style, 2001
"The first time I heard Stephen's music was at Issoudun. I was very impressed by the musicality of his work with the guitar. Some years later I had the opportunity to meet him at our guitar festival in Douai. I was very happy to meet the guitarist, but I also met a really good man, always close to you, always listening to you, always thinking how to give something good to you through his heart and his music. I have learned so much from Stephen!
-Regis Yagoubi, President, Guitar Picking Association, Douai, France, 11/21/02
"When I first heard him playing a few years ago in Issoudun, I felt like I had been pushed into a different world, where the lost emotions come back to your heart and make it beat in a different way. What Stephen can do, and few artists have this gift, is to speak directly to your heart and to move your best feelings! I consider Stephen a great musician and a real friend."
Pierpaolo Adda, Music Journalist, Italy, 11/18/02