Sunday, August 14, 2022

Two harp-guitars, one stage: Williamsburg concert will unite renowned musician and a fan

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A peninsula native and harp-guitarist will be joining one of his heroes on stage in Williamsburg this May.

Award-winning harp-guitarist Muriel Anderson will recapture the magic of the 2017 solar eclipse through her music in a concert at the Williamsburg Library Theater May 4, according to the Williamsburg Regional Library.

She’ll be accompanied by special guest and fellow harp-guitarist Matt Thomas, who was born, raised and lives in Newport News. Thomas has been playing the instrument for more than a decade, ever since he fell in love with the music of country music star and guitarist Chet Atkins – who has also shared the stage with Anderson.

“Getting the chance to do shows with someone like her is a dream,” Thomas said. “She transcends any genre…Her musicianship is one of the best in the world, and she has the ability to not just play the instrument amazingly, she can talk to the audience and take them on a journey to different parts of the world with whatever song she decides to play.”

Anderson, a Nashville, Tennessee resident, is the first woman to have ever won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship and is known for the wide range of sounds she’s able to make while playing her harp-guitar.

“You essentially have a whole orchestra at your fingertips,” Anderson said of her nylon-stringed harp-guitar.

Matt Thomas will be playing on stage alongside one of his idols, Muriel Anderson, at the Williamsburg Library Theater in May. (Courtesy Matt Thomas.)
Matt Thomas will be playing on stage alongside one of his idols, Muriel Anderson, at the Williamsburg Library Theater in May. (Courtesy Matt Thomas.)

The concert is one stop in Anderson’s 2018 tour, which will showcase the sounds of her most recent album, “Eclipse.” The Eclipse album was meant to “evoke the magic of the [2017] solar eclipse,” she said on her website.

“I’ll open the show with reenactments of this past year’s solar eclipse while I’m playing [the song] ‘Moonshadow,” Anderson said.

She added that she played ‘Moonshadow’ for her fans during last year’s eclipse in Nashville.

Her performance will also be accompanied by the visuals of photographer and cinematographer Bryan Allen. The images – some photos, some videos— will appear on a projector behind her.

The visuals are meant to take guests all around the world, to settings in Italy, Greece, Canada and Japan. Footage of the Earth from space, provided by NASA, will also make the cut.

Many of the images are personal and depict Anderson or her loved ones, including home movies from her grandparents’ visit to Canada in the 1920, she told WYDailys.

“We didn’t know how people would take to it,” Anderson said of the visuals. “People came out and said it made their hearts bigger. It enhanced the whole experience of the show.”

Muriel Anderson will bring her music to the Williamsburg Library Theater in May. (Courtesy Bryan Allen)
Muriel Anderson will bring her music to the Williamsburg Library Theater in May. (Courtesy Bryan Allen)

Allen also provided the album art for Anderson’s CD “Nightlight Daylight,” which was chosen by Guitar Player Magazine as one of the top-10 albums of the decade.

Following in Anderson’s footsteps, Thomas has gone on to have success with the harp-guitar as well. In 2017, he finished third in the very same International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship that Anderson previously won.

Thomas will join Anderson on stage during the second half of the show. He said their set list will be a secret until show time, but the pair are excited for what they have in store.

“There are any number of tunes we could jam to,” Anderson said. “We plan to have a bit of fun at the end of the show.”

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and is a part of WRL’s Dewey Decibel Concert Series. Admission to the show is $5 and $4 for friends of the library.

“If you haven’t yet experienced the harp guitar or finger style guitar, this is the chance to see one of the world’s best,” Thomas said.

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