Meandering Lugosch guitar has impact

Meandering Lugosch guitar has impact


Journal Sentinel entertainment critic

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music kicked off the first of its season series of six guitar concerts Tuesday with a performance by one-time Milwaukeean Eric Lugosch. The fingerstyle guitarist was back in town after recently winning the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in Windfield, Kan., and the Emerging Songwriter’s Competition in Santa Rosa, Calif.

After opening with a sprightly jazz-folk tune, Lugosch chatted with the audience a bit. The guitarist likes to break up his set with humorous between-song banter. He introduced one tune with a story about having written it years ago for the soundtrack of a dog food commercial only years later to hear its unauthorized use as background music in a PBS documentary on the Holocaust.

Lugosch also sings occasionally and on these songs his playing makes particular impact, with the rhythm and picking more flowing than on the instrumentals. Without the structure of a bona fide song, Lugosch’s dextrous styling tends to meander a bit. His versatility also occasionally takes him beyond the limits of his instrument; a few of his jazzier covers showcase his considerable technique but come off sounding a bit thin only because such compositions are usually played on electric guitar.

That certainly wasn’t the case on the next tune, however, an instrumental rumba that had the guitarist stringing a series of hammer-ons, drones and riffs into a single, engaging composition.

Lugosch also is versatile, for next came a gospel song written by the Rev. Gary Davis, an artist usually covered solely by straight blues players. The detailed, slowed-down country blues number was one of the more mesmerizing moments of the night.

On such material, Lugosch first appears to be merely an accomplished blues-folkie. But it’s soon apparent that his playing is much more detailed in a single tune he picks out the grace notes, bass lines, melodies and harmonic phrasings and he winds up sounding like a more- accomplished blues pianist who just happens to play guitar.

Copyright 1995

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