News Column

Guitarist brings classical with a twist to Songbird

June 19, 2014

By Matt Smith, Cleburne Times-Review, Texas

June 19--What would someone who studied under Spanish classical guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia and jammed with Stevie Ray Vaughan sound like?

Attendees will find out Friday and Saturday night courtesy guitarist Christopher McGuire's performances at Songbird Live in downtown Cleburne. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

McGuire, 57, said his love of music came early.

"I'm going to give the answer most people my age would say, which is the Beatles," McGuire said. "Then I got interested in Simon and Garfunkel and later James Taylor and other things.

"Actually, my first record ever was a 45 of Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" I won't be playing that this weekend, but I will do some Beatles."

McGuire said his parent's record collection, mostly jazz and classical, proved an early influence as well.

"Actually, my first experience with classical music came from watching cartoons to be honest," McGuire said. "The old Bugs Bunny cartoons, 'Fantasia' and all that."

McGuire's brother and his friends formed a cover band, The Southern Distributor, in the late '60s, McGuire said. Their guitarist from May 1969 to about mid 1970 was an obscure Texas guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan.

"Stevie was what we'd call hyper or ADD today," McGuire joked. "When the rest of the band would take a break to eat or rest Stevie still wanted to play. And I took advantage of those times to play with him. After he went off to Austin I then joined my brother's band. I would never say I replaced Stevie Ray Vaughan, but I will say that he was crucial to my approach to both classical and popular music later on."

Credit, too, Bill Morocco, McGuire's junior high band director.

"He was really fantastic," McGuire said. "Had us playing really good pieces of music, not just pop tunes arranged badly."

McGuire jokes that he failed a musical aptitude test taken between sixth and seventh grades and got stuck playing drums until Morocco heard him play guitar.

"I actually heard classical guitar for the first time when I was a freshman in high school," McGuire said. "Was just mesmerized by how beautiful it sounded and decided that's what I wanted to do. And at that point I gave up playing rock 'n' roll, folk and blues for several years."

McGuire went on to study at Southern Methodist University and well as in Aspen, Colorado and in Spain under Segovia. Having played throughout the world, McGuire presently serves as artistic director of the Fort Worth Classical Guitar Society and president of the Allegro Guitar Society of Dallas.

Don't expect a night of stuffy high art, McGuire said.

"The show is mostly classical guitar with a few popular songs as well," McGuire said. "But classical played in a more personable manner. People have said my playing and phrasing sounds more like I'm talking to people than sitting up there performing in an academic way.

"I'm more, 'Wow! Here's something really beautiful that I'd love you to hear,' as opposed to 'Here's this piece of music that you should hear.'

"And I also love to tell stories when I'm on stage between the songs."

McGuire said he's looking forward to his first performances in Cleburne.

"I haven't been [to the Songbird] yet, but I've seen pictures and it looks like a really great place," McGuire said. "Some of my friends have played there and they all loved it."

Songbird owner Tom Burkett calls McGuire a true talent and the real deal.

"His bag is classical but he's jammed with Stevie Ray Vaughan and can probably play anything," Burkett said. "He brings an interesting mix to the stage, great guitarists, but he's also funny and just has a nice laid back rapport with the audience."

Songbird Live is located at 210 E. Henderson St. For information, call 817-489-4840 or visit The website also contains video of McGuire and upcoming performers. For information on McGuire, visit


(c)2014 the Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas)

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Source: Cleburne Times-Review (TX)

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