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Monday, May 07, 2007

Michael Lee Firkins - Rare Stuff

FirkingsFirkins grew up favoring the likes of AC/DC, Judas Priest and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but his first exposure to music was through his parents, a lap steel guitarist and a classical pianist respectively. His father presented Michael with his first guitar when he was just eight years old - and the rest, as they say, is history. Although his tastes gravitated towards hard rock, the young Firkins was always open-minded about other genres, and reflects, “no matter what it was, if I liked it, I liked it.”
With a healthy dose of country-style guitar as part of his education, when Firkins heard Eddie Van Halen’s finger-picking interludes he began to see the potential for some stylistic innovations which have subsequently garnered him endless accolades. Throw in a fondness for jazz and a deep appreciation for the blues, and you have one of the most versatile guitar instrumentalists of the modern era. As early as 1990, when his self-titled debut was released, Firkins was named ‘best new talent’ alongside Eric Johnson by Guitar Player magazine, while more recently Guitarist magazine called him ‘one of the most influential players of the next ten years.’ Not only that, the album won an Edison Award in Holland, the Dutch equivalent of a Grammy.
The guitarist admits that he signed to Shrapnel because it was the logical thing for any reader of Guitar Player magazine to do - you sent Mike Varney a tape, he signed you, you released a record. But as unfamiliar as he was with the actual records Shrapnel had released - he had read the stories, but not heard the records - his own recordings set him apart from the ranks of guitar instrumentalists with his versatility, and when the guitarist re-emerged with Chapter 11 in 1995, he again rocked critics and fans alike back on their heels. While other guitar instrumentalists were striving for speed and bluster, Firkins was liberally scattering his new record with the sound of a steel guitar, successfully mimicked with a crafty right-hand technique, and then adding fluent finger picking to further emphasize his distance from traditional shredders. And as if that wasn’t enough, Firkins’ fondness for swing jazz also found an outlet on the record.

 Michael Lee Firkins - Rare Stuff


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