Electrifyingly Acoustic by Joe Grandwilliams

He is a handsome if somewhat older man. She is a beautiful young woman. He plays a steel string dreadnought guitar. Her classical guitar is strung with nylon. She uses fingers, he uses a Pick, She wears rings, bracelets and large hoop earrings. He wears sun-glasses and a watch, His name is Dennis Smith, and her name is Dorothy Wagner. He and she are Aerial Acoustics.

Aerial Acoustics are as alike as they are different. The result of two contrasting styles, played by two very skilled musicians is a mix of original tunes and covers that range from classical to rock, however the material is secondary to the presentation. Both musicians are first class players. Using a compact but sophisticated sound system, they are able to balance the volume differential of the instruments. They are able to preserve the unique sound of the respective guitars, and their approaches to playing them.

Dorothy is from Brooklyn, while Dennis calls New Jersey home. While the tightness of the arrangements may indicate otherwise, they have been together only two years. Interestingly enough, Dennis and Dorothy met not as musicians, but as Kite enthusiasts. Strings and flight seem to be common themes through their lives and music.

Now I know what you're probably thinking, Long Island is the place where guitar players come from, they don't go there. Our own axemen range from the great Don Arnone, who was King of the New York Studio scene, to Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, surely two of the greatest guitarists playing today. Now if You want a lesson in diversity, figure in the soul of Little Buster, the passion of Stevie Cochrane, the fire of Scott Ross, the silk of Rick Selechio of the Jim Small Band, Bryan Setzer's driving Rockabilly, Elliot Easton's hipness, Leslie West's sheer power, Al Pitrelli's grandeur, Frank Carillo's elegance, the ferocity of John Gatto and Mickey Marchello, toss in the mysticism of David Torn and stir it with the speed of the Great Kat, and then chill with the cool of Mark Marino, and you have only scratched the surface of the roster of Guitar Greats who started on the Long Island Scene. Yet still I have seen this dust a few times, and they are steadily building a wide fan base in our area.

While a portion of their song list are original tunes, a typical set will include material such as Seal's "Kiss From A Rose". This number showed Dorothy combing a vibrato that would have made a violinist jealous, and employing a hammer-on technique that would have made Mr. Van Halen proud. Other highlights of the evening included a cover of Paul Desmond's "Take Five" (The Lexus Commercial) with Dorothy's solid ostinato figures supporting Dennis's solos including a gliss that continued on after he ran out of neck! Fittingly, they ended the show with a great rendition of Mason Williams' anthem "Classical Gas".

 

“Good Times” magazine


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