String Thing

Dan LaVoie rocks the rare and wacky harp guitar

Ben Freund |

    It is the product of a forbidden love between members of the string family. The signs are obvious: the misshapen body, the asymmetrical sound holes, six strings on both necks – but the harp guitar is one of inbreeding’s rare success stories. In fact, it’s just plain rare. The instrument is not mass-produced and the number of harp guitarists worldwide could probably be numbered in the hundreds. Dan LaVoie was fifteen when he saw his first harp guitar and decided to teach himself how to play. “There was no information out there, no books, no videos,” recalls LaVoie. Those who fall in love with the harp guitar at Earth Tones will have it a bit easier with the advent of the internet, which has revived interest in the instrument. Also performing is Bill Miller, a Wisconsin-born artist and musician whose album Cedar Dream Songs won the 2005 Grammy for Best Native American Music Album. Miller’s music explores the meaning of being a Native American and a Christian. Miller recently composed a symphony dealing with those themes, which premiered in La Crosse earlier this year. Ohio guitarist Brian Henke and local Greg Gilbertson were recently added to the bill.

Earth Tones: Bill Miller, Dan LaVoie, Brian Henke, and Greg Gilbertson • Friday, Sept. 12 • State Theatre • 7:30pm • box $25, all ages $17 • 832-ARTS

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