This week I heard one amazing guitarist whom I will not easily forget. Will McFarlane commanded the stage with his long lanky frame and goateed beard that masked his seasoned sixty-years. With a cheap Mexican Tele in hand (I kid you not!) he created the sound of a pedal steel, a powerhouse blues player, a sophisticated Steely Dan-type rocker and a country twanger all rolled into one.
Once a sideman for Bonnie Raitt, and now a Muscle Shoals, AL-based session star player, McFarlane exploded with energy and creativity. What a treat for the local Durham, NC crowd…who actually get to see him there from time to time since he has family nearby.
McFarlane is a consummate stylist who embodies so much style it’s hard to describe without hearing. It’s like describing a master ballet performance…..the art of performing is something that must be seen (or heard in this case)….the music is it’s own language that cannot be accurately described verbally.
A brief conversation with McFarlane afterward revealed the secret to his tone: There is no secret! No special effects or pumped up electronics within the guitar. It’s pure expertise tempered with style and good taste. Mind you, many many years playing with other high caliber top-notch musicians is the real secret!
The most amazing technique he displayed was his ability to bend all the strings he fretted at once, creating the sound of a pedal steel. Definitely a stylist tour de force!
Go hear Will McFarlane if you get the chance.