Phantom guitar limb

Grammy award winning musician to take stage

Posted 7/17/19

When Ed Gerhard doesn’t hold his guitar, he feels as if a limb has been amputated.

“The presence of the guitar is always with me,” Gerhard said. “There is a phenomenon that people who have had amputations note they can still feel this phantom limb. When I am not playing the guitar I can still feel it.”

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Phantom guitar limb

Grammy award winning musician to take stage

Posted

When Ed Gerhard doesn’t hold his guitar, he feels as if a limb has been amputated.

“The presence of the guitar is always with me,” Gerhard said. “There is a phenomenon that people who have had amputations note they can still feel this phantom limb. When I am not playing the guitar I can still feel it.”

Gerhard said he is deeply connected to his guitars, but does not have to play them every single day.

“I am not driven to do it. But when I pick it up it is like no time has passed. I have gone a week or more sometimes without picking the guitar up.”

Gerhard did admit he does need to at least hear a guitar being played everyday.

“Even if I am not playing much I have a bunch of guitars up on stands in my studio,” he said. “Even if I have not played in a few days I have to walk by the guitar and go, ‘brrrring.’”

There is no doubt guitars are the love of Gerhard’s life, he said.

“I don’t sing so it had to become my voice and I have worked really hard at getting it to express what I’ve wanted it to. It has never been a chore. I have just loved every minute of that.”

That lifelong passion, begun as a boy by watching a black and white television performance by Andrés Segovia, which would set guitarist Gerhard on a path into the music industry ultimately leading to a Grammy Award.

“That was what planted the seed for me, seeing Segovia on a little black and white TV my father dragged out on our little deck,” Gerhard said. “I just happened to be walking past it and there was Segovia giving a master class. It was the first time I had heard a guitar played all by itself. I was instantly transfixed.”

It wouldn’t be until about four years later, however, when Gerhard would finally get a guitar of his own.

“It wasn’t until 14 when I got a guitar,” he said. “It has been my constant companion ever since.”

Coming to Rainshadow

Gerhard will perform at 7:30 p.m., July 21 at Rainshadow Recording in Fort Worden State Park located at 200 Battery Way, Building 315.

Tickets are available at the door or online at Brown Paper Tickets.

“Ed has been on my radar for a long, long time,” said Everett Moran, owner of Rainshadow Recording.

Moran first began presenting acoustic music in 1997 in Oklahoma City, and booked a number of world-class fingerstyle guitarists, including Martin Simpson, Al Petteway and Brooks Williams.

“Ed is right up there with the best of them,” Moran said. “His prowess on the Weissenborn (Hawaiian lap steel) sets him apart. In the right hands, the Weissenborn delivers an exquisite, full-bodied tone and Gerhard is an undisputed master of the instrument.”

Gerhard said while he uses the Hawaiian lap steel, he does not perform it in a manner that sounds like a visit to the Big Island.

“The Weissenborn was used as an accompaniment instrument. Lately, more and more of us are writing fully conceived instrumental pieces for Weissenborn. It is just a really fantastic, compelling sound.”

Gerhard said he is attracted to the honky-tonk sound emanating from the slide guitar.

“I was really influenced by a lot of the classical stuff, but I was deeply influenced by the blues stuff I heard when I was a kid. The classical stuff was formal and organized and melodic and beautiful. The blues stuff was real loose and conversational.”

Gerhard combines both approaches to create his style.

“I think subconsciously I have always tried to fuse those two things, but I don’t want it to be so formal you sit there feeling your butt clenching,” he said.

Gerhard’s intention is not to perform pretentious concerts.

“It is not a recital where I am demonstrating music,” he said. “There is a true interaction with the listeners. A lot of times we are told that in between songs you have to interact with the audience to keep them focused, but if you are not doing it with the material itself then what is the point?”

Grammy award

Gerhard recorded the song, “Moon River,” on the 2004 album, “Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar.” The compilation album of popular works by Mancini was produced by James R. Jensen who asked guitar players on his record label to contribute some of their favorite compositions to the album.

In 2005, the album won Jensen the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

“It is funny because I had never really liked ‘Moon River’ all that much, and when it was suggested I do that one I kind of groaned a little bit,” Gerhard said. “But as I set to work on the tune, I realized what a great piece of work it is. I have always liked a lot of Mancini’s stuff. ‘Moon River’ has a lot of connotations to it because it has been around for so long. It makes fat guys cry at weddings.”

Gerhard said, in the end, he was grateful to be included on the album lineup.

“I got to do something with it and it got some attention and we got a Grammy for the record.”

The Grammy was a surprise, Gerhard said.

He was not at the ceremony.

“I didn’t think we had a prayer of winning it, and I had a concert the night before in Connecticut,” Gerhard said. “I didn’t want to miss that and have to cancel at the last minute.”

The night of the Grammy awards ceremony, Gerhard was out with friends eating Indian food.

When he returned there was a short message on his answering machine.

‘We won. Click,” is all it said.

“Just getting nominated was astonishing,” Gerhard said. “Moving the needle over the top was really a thrill.”

What made it even more satisfying was the instrumental pop category it was in, he said.

“That category is not populated by Mili Vanilli and Nicki Minaj. It is pretty much artists recognizing artists for the art. It is not a personality contest, so that meant a lot because it acknowledged the work itself and not popularity or the size of my boobs.”

Although the Grammy came following two decades in the business, Gerhard did not rest on his laurels.

“I never wanted to back away from it,” he said. “We travel a lot and that is one of the great things about doing this. The travel itself is not so great, but being in other places like Japan, Italy and South Korea has just been really wonderful. I have found I have listeners all over the world. It is more of a way of life than just a career and I like that.”

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