If you already believe that music is a universal language, then Chase Padgett’s “Six Guitars” joyously confirms that belief; and if you don’t understand that basic truth, Chase Padgett and his show will make you a firm believer. Those who attended the recent Arts In Education program presented by Darke County Center for the Arts to students in all grades of local public high schools in which the skilled and talented actor/singer/guitarist channeled six different characters, each playing a different musical genre and musing on the power of music to touch souls and enhance lives, will undoubtedly attest to the truth of that statement.
Chase told the students that he developed his show as a challenge to himself, combining all the things he loves to do—acting, music, and story-telling; he skillfully offered a sample of “music I like to play just for fun,” then demonstrated the successful result of that personal challenge, morphing into an old blues man playing his guitar and sharing his story. After stating that “blues is the best music,” Tyrone Gibbons went on to explain the formula required for a blues song, then admonished that more than formula is required to successfully play the blues; the successful blues artist must remain true to one’s self.
Following a subtle hand movement and demeanor rearrangement, a Spanish classical guitar player named Emmanuel took over the narrative, mangling metaphors while affirming the value of all music from Bach to Baroque to the Beatles to Bruno Mars. He wisely counseled that whenever one learns something new, the knowledge gained becomes a part of you—“And you are forever reborn!” While the audience was absorbing this wisdom, a new character appeared; country singer Rupert Colt delivered the opinion that his brand of music is pure honest storytelling. “Men and women share their souls” in a country song, he said, and then launched into a narrative describing falling off a roof into a ring of fire ants, an event inspiring his song “I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Fire (Ants.)
Jazz guitarist Wesley was up next, somewhat pretentiously explaining that his brand of music is beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated. Wes went on to say that when he first heard legendary guitar virtuoso Joe Pass play “Have You Met Miss Jones,” his life was forever changed; this simple guitar solo “sounded more complex than an entire symphony,” Wes explained. And then, in character, Chase Padgett beautifully played that simply elegant tune with sophistication and warmth.
Folk aficionado Peter then took over, inviting the audience to have a great time singing along and letting “your joy shine through;” he then launched into a song about “living, learning, and loving,” perhaps over-sharing his personal feelings in this narrative of a dysfunctional relationship, but ending with the admonition to “be yourself, never changing who you are, and not giving up on your dreams.” Rock riffs then roared from Chase’s guitar, and exuberant rocker Michael took the stage, explaining that rock and roll keeps evolving and cannot be boxed in; a rock and roll song can be about almost anything. He then said, “Let’s make a song about you,” brought a reluctant audience member onstage, and improvised a delightful song about the victim to the delight of one and all.
After moving in rapid-fire fashion from character to character while verbally riffing on the similarities and differences in musical genres, Chase convincingly stated that you learn more than scales and chords while pursuing mastery of music—you learn how to live a good life. He said that diverse genres offer the same song with different chords, and that music can provide all one needs in life. Chase compared music to a telephone line from soul to soul, then reinforcing the wisdom of the characters who had each in his own way proven the truth of that comparison, beautifully played John Lennon’s “Imagine,” showing how music that is forever old, yet always new connects people to each other and the timeless universe.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.