Chase Padgett: Six different lives in "Six Guitars"
Padgett's one-man show expresses the love of life and music through six different genres of guitar music
| 11:08 a.m. June 9, 2015
Arts + Culture
Chase Padgett has taken a pit stop in Kansas City, Missouri. He's driven pretty much continuously from Portland, OR (his current hometown) to reach his next show at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. Padgett has traveled greater distances to reach an engagement (55 hours straight from Edmonton, Alberta to Orlando) but the young Naples native and University of Central Florida graduate never travels or grows more than he does under the stage lights in his one-man show "Six Guitars."
"Six Guitars," which runs from June 9 to July 11 at Florida Studio Theatre's John C. Court Cabaret, presents Padgett transform and morph between six different guitar-strapped troubadours. Blues, jazz, rock, country, folk and classical are all represented by colorful characters that are inspired from real life guitarists and the personalities that are staples of each genre. Padgett's face and aura change from character to character as he tells each man's story. Along with the morphing mannerisms, Padgett's guitar picking style changes accordingly.
Padgett was able to sit down and talk about his musical inspirations, guitar heroes and the power of improvisation as he made his way to Florida Studio Theatre.
What inspired you in your past to get onstage?
I don’t remember a time before I was performing. I was doing community theater stuff down in Naples at the Naples Players. I did "Oliver!" In third grade I had the most lines in a two-act play that was totally dramatic and I was 8 years old. But in high school two things happened. I feel in love with guitar and improve those two loves have blossomed side by side.
The guitar started because I had been playing trumpet since 5th grade and my dad bought me a guitar for Christmas in 7th grade. I looked at him with astonishment. I didn’t want it. I didn’t pick it up for three years. And then in trumpet I got bored with playing one note at a time with trumpet but my finger speed was always really great. That boredom turned into genuine interest. I was either playing video games or guitar. I played an enormous amount of video games as a kid. I was listening to albums and trying to learn things note for note.
I didn’t know what improv was until "Whose Line Is It Anyway," which is improve’s best ambassador. I found a guy who was teaching theater at a different school altogether and he taught my class games. That’s how it started.
I had an interesting life turning point that I didn’t even know it was happening when it happened. My senior year of high school on Christmas day my brother, mother and I drove up to Adventures Island in Orlando. I talked to the mystical magical talking fountain at Islands of Adventure. He squirts me with water and we strike up a conversation. I going to go to Chicago and I’m going to go to Second City. What you need to do is go to the SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando, FL. The fountain tells me about the improve show in Orlando. My mom gets me into classes there and it changed my life. I ended up getting to level three with Jay Hopkins. Jay was not only the fountain that day but led me to this path. He co-wrote and directs "Six Guitars" in 2010 when I started forming this show.
Walk me through the evolution of “Six Guitars.”
Certain fragments started before I created the show. It was percolating in the back of my mind. In 2008 and 2009 I had a sketch comedy group at Orlando Fringe but it fell apart because of life and kids. I had an idea that was as hard and scary as it possibly can be and that’s a one-man show. I just didn’t want to do someone else’s show. What do I love to do? Characters, guitar and improve. It all started with Jay Hopkins (director and writer) and he asked me who is the country guy and I would spit out all of these answers. He’d write them out, look at them and embody them. I would interview as those characters and act like them and respond to them.
Each character was based on fragments of myself and other musicians that I’ve encountered. The blues guy is an homage to Buddy Guy and B.B. King that I’ve seen live. Buddy Guy didn’t play a note and stood with a drink in his hands and talked with his background band vamping. He enthralled the room. He was calm, comfortable and experienced. Each other character has that genesis with the different real people and improved in my mind. That brought it to the shows premiere five years ago and I’ve done it 180 times. If you do a show 180 times, it’ll evolve and it’s evolved tremendously. I’ve added songs, cut or expanded certain jokes. There are whole sections that are improvised that involve audience members. At this Orlando Fringe I changed the opening from the blues character to a rock song and it totally works. You try something new and if it works you keep it.
Blues, jazz, rock, classical, folk and country. Those are the major genres. Originally it was going to be 5 but I added classical, which is my weakest. Most other genres past that are just combinations of those six. And they influenced me the most.
Jazz: Influenced me because it’s simultaneously the most complex of them all. The level of musicianship that it demands rivals anything the world has ever seen. What jazz musicians do musically is so challenging that it showed me as a performer that anything is truly possible. It’s based off my jazz theory professor in college and believed that jazz was superior to any other kind of music. I agree in a technical degree. If you can play jazz, you can play anything.
Folk: Is based off of the musician that my dad wanted to be. He loved folk and finger style playing. He’s really evolved into one of the funniest characters. He goes from a ray of sunshine and he keeps finding joy and difficult times through different points in his life.
Classical: A character that starts focused on the rigidity of music and finds the overarching joy of creativity past the notes on the page by the end of the show. A third of all symphonic classical musicians use beta blockers or some performance nerve calmers. The demand for perfection is so high that there’s no room for error. One note could cost you your livelihood.
Country: Based off a young, storytelling troubadour archetype that travels around and plays story songs and it’s going to evolve even further into this. It’s a guy that would like mainstream country music success and accepts that’s not where he wants to be.
Rock: Absolutely a fragment of my own self when I was 16. I wanted to play loud and fast. Learning the value of reading music and challenging yourself to step outside the comfort zone.
Who are your guitar heroes?
I would have to say the number one guitar hero these days is Tommy Emmanuel. He’s a breathtaking spectacle of ability on acoustic guitar. He plays by himself and he’ll sell out 1000 seats in any town in the world because he’s so damn good.
I really love Johnny Highland. He's an incredible Nashville guitarist with a chicken picker kind of sound. I'm falling in love with Jimi Hendrix all over again and appreciating how revolutionary he was. Joe Satriani is a really great. He’s playing all over the place but your still tapping along with his vocal quality to his playing.
Have you performed in Sarasota before?
I actually have not played in Sarasota. I did a marching band performance once but beyond that I haven’t spend anytime in Sarasota.
What does it feel like to be onstage by yourself when your channeling six different characters?
It is a challenge and a joy all at the same time. I really pride myself on having the range to nail each character so specifically. You can see who I am before I even speak. The moment I change you know who’s coming. There’s never a surprise. They’re all so distinctly different. There’s no confusion and that challenge is something that I’ve rised to and I loved it.
How do you want audiences to walk away with from “6 Guitars?”
I would love audiences to walk away with the inspiration to play music. The whole message of the show is the pursuit of our art makes us into the people we were meant to be. I’ve never heard they gave up an instrument as a kid and they were glad they did it. You can always see it in their eyes that they wished they kept going. If a show can inspire somebody to the music that fell by the wayside and that you just need to love it that that would be the greatest joy for me.