Ten-finger tapper

Andreas Kapsalis brings stunning guitar technique to Taos Inn


Andreas Kapsalis, the talented 10-finger tapping guitarist, is returning to town with his latest music. He is touring with his live album, which was recorded at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Though not officially released, Kapsalis is selling the CD at his shows only.

Kapsalis will perform Tuesday (March 21) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Adobe Bar at the Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. There is no cover charge.

He plans to play a mixture of material from his past recordings, plus some brand-new songs he aims to record in the near future.

“Live at Old Town School of Folk Music” features original compositions by Kapsalis, performed before a live audience. The recording venue is one familiar to Kapsalis. But, this was his first time making a live album.

Old Town School of Folk Music is one of his favorite places in Chicago to play. He said, “They have all styles of music, which is why I like the place, and world music has a home there. ... It was a very special experience to do it.”

The original music that Kapsalis plays is influenced by a variety of ethnic folk traditions, flamenco, Americana, blues and rock and roll. Most distinctive is the way he plays the guitar.

Kapsalis lost his ability to play guitar after injuring a tendon in his left hand. Unable to use both his hands, Kapsalis relearned to play the guitar using only his right hand. When he recovered from his injury, he developed a style of playing using both hands that he calls “10-finger tapping.” The technique allows him to play melody, bass and rhythm simultaneously. Kapsalis explains that he can play percussion and drumbeats with one hand and melody and chords with the other.

Over the years, Kapsalis has performed at the Calcutta Guitar Festival in India, the Chicago World Music Festival, the Philippines Guitar Festival, Canadian Guitar Festival and Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. This past year, Kapsalis spent a good deal of time touring in the U.S. as well as in Europe. He was the only musician from the U.S. invited to perform at the 2016 Rudolstadt Festival in Germany, one of the largest world music festivals in Europe.

“It’s kind of a street stage festival. It was special,” reflected Kapsalis.

In addition to performing and writing his own music, Kapsalis has composed scores for documentary and feature films. As a fellow for the Sundance Composers Lab, he completed a score for “Black Gold,” a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He has been commissioned by Northwestern University and Notre Dame to compose music for their silent film festivals. Most recently, Kapsalis scored a movie soundtrack for a short comedy called “Gas,” filmed in his hometown of Chicago.

While Kapsalis is an instrumentalist, that doesn’t stop him from telling stories or making social commentary through his sound check or even song titles. He recently wrote a song called “The Elephants,” which captures his feelings about the dismantling of the traditional circus because of its notorious mistreatment of elephants. He said the song also alludes to “what’s going on politically in the world,” which he said is its own kind of circus.

For 2017, Kapsalis will again be touring in the United States and Europe. He also has hopes to record another CD of his newest music.

“The most important thing for any musician to try to do is to try to bring some joy. That makes me happy,” said Kapsalis.

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