Marc Atkinson is well known by many music lovers for his captivating guitar playing, and local residents will get a chance to see what all the buzz is about this coming weekend.
Atkinson, a multi-instrumentalist/composer/arranger/producer, is one of Canada’s most talented musicians. His picking has been described as “flawless, surprise-filled, sizzling and supremely melodic,” while his music is considered “original, complex and challenging in its conception and delivery but remains accessible and absorbing.”
A Juno nominee and Western Canadian Music Award winner, Atkinson is the leader and composer for the internationally renowned Marc Atkinson Trio and is the co-founder, composer and a performer in the acclaimed ensemble The Bills.
The Marc Atkinson Trio, formed in 2000, has toured North America, England and Europe and has received standing ovations everywhere they perform from the Montreal Jazz Festival to the Vancouver International Folk Festival to DjangoFest Northwest.
As part of the Quesnel Live Arts season, the Marc Atkinson Trio will be performing with violinist Cameron Wilson Saturday, March 7 at the Chuck Mobley Theatre.
“I like to think that an audience will have quite a musical ride when they come to see our concert,” Atkinson said in an email interview. “We like to have quite a variety in our repertoire, ranging from raucous jammers where we are improvising on our edge to lush arrangements of some familiar melodies from such composers as Bach or Duke Ellington. It’s a fairly energetic show.”
Atkinson is known as an excellent guitar player. He says he began playing the guitar as a 13-year-old, returning to music after a few years where he had given up classical piano to be a hardball pitcher. He has been playing guitar ever since.
“I was most inspired when I was jamming and improvising with my friends — much like I’ll be doing at the concert,” he said.
Atkinson says the fact that he enjoys improvising is possibly what keeps him so interested in performing to this day.
“It’s a little different each time,” he said. “I love the physical challenge of music as well. I do a lot of producing records at my studio on Hornby Island, and I find I never get tired of pursuing new sounds and textures with music.”
Atkinson says “there are so many musicians” who have inspired him over the years.
“Everyone from the Beatles to Bach, but it’s always been the jazzers that make me want to pick up my guitar and play the most,” he said. “Again, I think it is because if the physical challenge. Perhaps the music I like to play can be compared to skiing down my favourite runs. Sometimes, they are groomers and sometimes double black. I’m always looking for that fresh powder.”
In the Marc Atkinson Trio, Atkinson is backed by Joey Smith on bass and Brett Martens on rhythm guitar.
The Marc Atkinson Trio’s first three CDs are still garnering international attention for their stunning compositions and extraordinary guitar dexterity, according to Atkinson’s website.
The Marc Atkinson Trio II was voted one of the top five albums in North America by Acoustic Guitar Magazine, while The Marc Atkinson Trio III was nominated for an Outstanding Album Award at the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2006.
The Marc Atkinson Trio IV pushes the boundaries of this instrumental group even further than the first three CDs, notes Atkinson’s website.
“It is a technically demanding, melodic and rhythmically pulsing 50 minutes of music,” it states. “The new CD includes 11 Marc Atkinson original compositions and one impressive rearrangement of a Russian Rag. The compositions glide seamlessly from unusual beauty, to raucous rhythm. If you are a lover of the guitar, instrumental music or just music, you will love this new recording.”
When Atkinson comes to Quesnel, he’ll be bringing his new solo CDs with him. He says he thought about recording a solo guitar album for 40 years, and in 2019, he finally did, releasing the album Marc Atkinson: Solo.
The Marc Atkinson Trio performs with Cameron Wilson Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School as part of the Quesnel Live Arts series.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and students and are available at Green Tree Health and Wellness, K-Max, Save On Foods, the Occidental and at the door.