John Curtin

I love the guitar.

My first image of an entertainer was young Elvis Presley with his Martin guitar. I’ve been fascinated by the instrument ever since. I began studying guitar at age 10, learning to read music from a local guitar teacher. I was too young to realize how important it was to learn to read music. Most of my friends learned to play by ear, but being able to read the language of music opened up a whole new world to me. After 3 years of guitar lessons I started playing in bands, which eventually, among other things, enabled me to pay for my high school and college educations. My version of working my way through college was booking gigs in rock clubs and the college coffee house circuit.

My first jazz guitar teacher was Allen Hanlon.

He had a studio in the Ed Sullivan building on Broadway and I was working for Warner Bros. Music at Rockefeller Center. I studied with Allen for about a year. Several years later I studied with Howard Morgen, who taught me most of what I know about chord voicings, as well as the peculiarities of harmonizing music for solo guitar performance. That’s when I began to accumulate original arrangements for solo guitar.

My approach to solo performing is two-fold:

Instrumental solo guitar and accompaniment to my singing. The challenge is playing an entire evening of instrumental solo guitar. Most of us have an image of the singer/guitar player and that’s fine for a tavern atmosphere, but most people prefer instrumentals, not vocals, while they’re enjoying dinner or browsing through an art gallery. I love being a part of those settings, creating a sonic atmosphere with only an acoustic guitar. It’s very satisfying.

My repertoire is, to say the least, eclectic.

Instrumentals range from jazz standards by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Django Reinhardt, guitar rags by Hot Tuna and Chet Atkins, medleys of famous movie themes and Beatle ballads to modern composers like Nora Jones. Vocal selections are from classic pop writers Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Eric Clapton to modern writers John Mayer, Jack Johnson and whatever else I hear on the radio.

Although a majority of my performances are solo, I love playing in bands, too.

I currently play with 4 completely different types of ensembles. As lead guitarist in Shawn Klush’s Ultimate Elvis Presley Tribute Band, I’ve traveled the world and played with the guys who actually played with Elvis (see photos). I’m music director for singer Terri Dixon’s Patsy Cline Tribute Band. In 2006 I organized my jazz band, Gypsy Jazz Quintet (see link) and we have a really fun rock/dance band, The Curtones.

I perform more than 200 dates a year

and I plan to keep doing this till my fingers don’t work any more. Please click around my web site and enjoy the music!