Man With A Mission

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

It is a long way from Torino, Italy to Santa Cruz. Peppino D'Agostino has traveled that distance both literally and figuratively over the course of his life to become one of the most acclaimed acoustic guitarists of our time.

This Saturday he will play at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center as part of the International Guitar Night tour.

Ever since he was a child in Italy D'Agostino was obsessed with music. He was first introduced to the guitar when he saw his cousin perform at a church service in his hometown of Torino. Seeing his interest, his mother bought him a cheap guitar and paid for him to have a couple of lessons. Soon, he was listening to recordings of Paco de Lucia, Leo Kottke and Carlos Santana and picking out the tunes by ear.

By age 18, he had taught himself to read music and was an active composer and performer. By his mid-20s, D'Agostino had released two albums on Italian record labels and written an instructional book for country and bluegrass guitar.

His ambition, however, was to live and play in the United States, and so in the mid-1980s, he moved to San Francisco. In 1982 he released his first album in the United States, ‘Acoustic Spirit,” on the Shanachie record label.

Since then, Dkgostino has enjoyed great success and acclaim in both the United States and Europe. His work has been featured alongside some Of the world's most famous guitarists, including Pat Metheny, Leo Kottke and Al DiMeola.

As well as several CDs, he has released instructional books and videotapes. Last year he released a CD of duets with classical guitarist David Tanenbaum entitled “Classic/Steel.” The album features interpretations of works by Bach and Vivaldi alongside DAgostino’s own compositions.

As may be expected from a musician with so - of many influences and experiences to his name, D'Agostino’s guitar playing shows a unique and distinctive style. He combines the more traditional styles of flamenco, fingerstyle and jazz with the use of numerous open tunings and creates amazing effects by playing notes on the fretboard with his left hand while simultaneously drumming on the guitar’s body with his right. Reviewers have claimed that the resulting sound “seems almost impossible on one guitar."

D'Agostino has expressed many times in interviews how lucky he feels to have been given the opportunity to share his love of music with such a wide audience.

The adventure he started as a boy in Italy continues today in America as he seeks to expand his musical horizons still further and push back the frontiers of guitar music.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, August 22, 2002

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