Blending Inspirations: A Q&A with Chris Luquette
Join Chris Luquette with Steve Blanchard and Special Guests for a concert here at Empty Sea at 8pm on Saturday, December 14th.
Chris Luquette is a masterful solo performer as well as a founding member of the Seattle band Northern Departure. Chris’ musicianship reflects the multitude of musical influences he turns to for inspiration. His acoustic guitar playing really stands out, but this virtuosic, multi-instrumentalist is equally at home playing mandolin, drums, bass, electric guitar, banjo, and Greek bouzouki! He will joined by well-known acoustic flatpicker guitarist and singer-songwriter Steve Blanchard in this concert at Empty Sea.
You recently won the 2013 IMBA Momentum Award for Instrumental Performer of the Year– Congratulations! How does it feel?
Thank you very much. Receiving the award from the IBMA(International Bluegrass Music Association) was an honor. Being recognized by your peers and supporters for doing what you love feels very special. The entire list of nominees for the award was incredible, all terrific performers in their own right and I have lots of respect for them. it was an honor to be included in the field!
How did you start playing music and what were some of your earliest inspirations?
I first got an interested in music around the age of 10 from my Father, who just happened to get some CDs by the Beatles and played them around the house and car. I guess something about it captured my ear and interest, it made me want to play music as well! In the early years I was inspired by the Beatles and all other kinds of classic rock and roll bands, from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin, CCR to The Allman Brothers Band and everything in between. I was also exposed to jazz music while studying the guitar and have been highly influenced by jazz and blues ever since.
You have studied and played a large variety of musical styles– what are some of your favorite genres to play and listen to? Are there stories behind how you got interested in all these different musics?
I’ve been influenced from everything from rock, and jazz, to ethnic musics from around the world. I’ve gravitated mostly to Scandinavian and Balkan musics, with an emphasis on Finnish and Greek. I’d say part of the reason for gravitating to ethnic folk music was from my own family heritage. My Mother took me to folk dances in Seattle when I was a teenager and that, coupled with our own family heritage of Finnish and Swedish, made me very interested in listening to music from those countries. The Folk music from Finland is incredible, they borrow from many great genres and have come up with a heavy blend of sounds that is unlike anything else I’ve heard. Very inspiring.
You also play a multitude of different instruments. Tell us about all of these different instruments and what you feel most comfortable with and most excited about.
Guitar(Acoustic and Electric) Bass, and Mandolin are my mainstays. Throughout the years I’ve dabbled on Banjo, other Mandolin family instruments, drums, and even messed with a Greek Bouzouki for a spell. Around the Bluegrass scene, it seems like a whole new generation of players is coming up with new ways to play and approach their instruments, that to me is very inspiring. I’m excited to be learning from aged masters and youngsters at the same time!
Tell us about your time with the band Northern Departure. What have been some of your favorite experiences with that group?
I just recently revisited the 2 albums we made as Northern Departure, and I was quite pleased with what we did as a band. Especially for being young, and just beginning to expose ourselves to the modern stages of the music. One experience that stands out was when we came in 2nd place at the Experience Music Project’s under 21 battle of the bands called Sound Off! It is an incredible program featuring northwest bands of all genres and to be awarded 2nd place in such a heavily talented field was an honor. I hope that program continues to thrives. It gives so much back to the community. Seattle has incredible young musicians and I am glad they, and us, get to have an outlet such as that.
For this concert, you’ll be sharing the stage with Steve Blanchard. How did you meet and start to play music together?
I’ve known Steve for I’d guess around 5 years now. I’d see him at most of the festivals I went to in Washington playing with his band Prairie Flyer. Through the years we’ve had some great jams, great laughs and many wonderful times. He’s a powerful guitar player with a strong musical mind and a great ability to entertain folks. This will be our first formal performance with each other and I’m excited to see what it brings out in us.
Tell us about your current musical projects. What are you most excited about?
At the moment, my current band Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen is working new material up for recording sessions in Nashville in February to make another record.
2013 was a great year for FSDK as it found us traveling coast to coast, and even to France to perform! Our most recent album On The Edge has been receiving great reviews and we are excited about the follow up. I am also extremely happy to be performing along side the IBMA’s Banjo player of the year, Mike Munford! He is a musical hero of mine and a great guy to be around. I learn something new from him every night on stage. Looking forward to picking his brain in 2014!
I’ve also recently launched my own website, www.chrisluquette.com in order to promote shows for FSDK and anything solo I might be doing. In addition I have been privately teaching guitar students quite regularly and have been enjoying that. Anyone interested can visit the website for more info.
Looking forward to playing at Empty Sea Studios, Saturday December 14th!