Electronic Press Kit
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Michael’s music on Pandora – 20,000 listeners – over 9 million cumulative streams.
Michael on Spotify
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Podcasts / Interviews
Moab Sun News:
Master musician returns to Moab
Acoustic Guitar Magazine:
Acoustic Guitar Magazine:
Good Vibrations, The Healing Power of the Guitar, Jessica Baron Turner interviews Michael, Ry Cooder, and David Lindley
Michael Gulezian (gu-LAY-ze-in) is one of the most highly acclaimed solo acoustic instrumental guitarists of our time. He is a phenomenal technical guitarist with the rare ability to transcend his own virtuosity, creating music that touches and moves people at the deepest level. He’s been called the musical link between John Fahey and Michael Hedges. Artists as diverse as Michael Hedges, Willy Porter, and Henry Kaiser have claimed him as a primary musical influence; young lions such as Erik Mongrain and Andy McKee are quick to acknowledge him as an inspiration. In concert, Michael is all warmth and humor … and though it’s visually breathtaking to watch him perform, a concert with Michael is more than a display of cutting-edge virtuosity – it is the passionate communion of master musician engaged with his audience in the mystery of self-revelation, creating music of atmospheric power, ecstatic joy, and haunting beauty. If you enjoy the artistry of musicians such as Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges – guitarists who amaze us with what ten fingers and one guitar can do – then you will love Michael Gulezian.
Advance Press Articles
Guitarist returns to Arizona with newfound fame
Arizona-raised Michael Gulezian had a dream of becoming a nationally recognized musician based in the Grand Canyon State. From 1965 to 1997, Gulezian lived in Tucson and pursued recognition for his skill in drawing unique and unexpected sounds from the acoustic guitar. The recognition never came. In 1997, Gulezian left Arizona and … voila, the dream manifested.
This Saturday, he makes his first Arizona appearance since moving to Nashville, performing a solo acoustic set at the Cave Creek Coffee Company. “It seems a bit ironic that I had to leave my home state to achieve recognition in my field, only then to return for a performance at a nationally recognized Arizona venue,” Gulezian says. “But I‘m happy that it‘s finally happened.”
Gulezian is full of praise for Cave Creek Coffee Company and its dedication to presenting acoustic artists who might not otherwise be heard. “This state has never before had a home for such ultra high quality acoustic-oriented music. They have an incredible national reputation.”
Gulezian chose to move to Nashville, not primarily because of the music scene there but because it was close to many major cities where he could tour his music. What will people hear from him Saturday night? The best label might simply be: “Michael Gulezian’s music.” He quotes fellow acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges, who described his own work as “acoustic thrash,” “heavy mental,” “new edge,” and his favorite, “deep-tissue gladiator guitar.”
“But I’m not that clever,” he avers. “I just call it boundary-free, horizon expanding, genre-bending, transcendent, soulful, kickass, ultrahigh-end, cutting edge exquisitely gorgeous solo instrumental acoustic guitar music.” (Kenneth LaFave)
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Cave Creek Coffee Company, 6033 Cave Creek Road
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
ADMISSION: $15 cover
DETAILS: (480) 488-0603 or www.cavecreekcoffee.com
Butting Heads With the Bigwigs –
Musician takes path seldom traveled, follows it to Durango
Gulezian calls music “tough, snarling”
Some musicians can function within the mainstream music industry – often as pawns or, rarely, as flukes. Others are unable to do so, and learn to thrive independently or face a life of resentment. Still others find ways to sneak around and subvert the industry, or collide with it head-on. Michael Gulezian, performing Wednesday night at the Abbey Theatre, has long since joined forces with the third camp. He plays solo acoustic guitar, and thus was never destined to be an industry darling.
Gulezian picked up the guitar at the age of 5 or 6, a “clunky, junky, old one,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I played that for years before my mom and dad realized, ‘Hey, the kid is serious.’” His first album, released on Takoma, was an immediate success, but the label went bankrupt. So he went back to school, earning degrees in entrepreneurship and marketing from the University of Arizona.
Bizarre choices for a musician? Not from Gulezian’s perspective. He thinks of his education as a weapon of sorts. “It helps me navigate the very murky space one occupies when trying to find one’s way across uncharted waters as a creative artist in a market oriented society,” he said.
He uses a hypothetical situation as an example of why he did the right thing: “What do you tell a kid who dreams of being an ice skater, a jazz music freeform ice-skating sort of Blue Man Group ice skater? Do you say, ‘You can’t do that. You have to get a job at the XYZ Corporation and sit behind a desk?’ Of course not. But if you’re going to encourage the dream, there has to be a practical element.”
Since school, Gulezian has released three albums on his own label, Timbreline Music, including this summer’s Language of the Flame. He calls it a “tough, snarling, moody” record. “It’s not a zippedy-doo-dah, background music, put it on for your wine-and-cheese party kind of CD. It really rocks, and it rocks hard,” he said. “It’s like Helmet, or Tool … like a metal album done on solo acoustic guitar.”
Therefore, Gulezian expected no radio play, but public radio has jumped to his side. He has been on a tour of high-profile public radio appearances this summer: Echoes, West Coast Live, World Café, and more. It never ceases to amaze him. “You can do this for 25 or 30 years, laboring in obscurity, and become conditioned to expect you’ll always be flying under the radar of public consciousness,” he said. “I’m never gonna be famous, I don’t think. There are people who are actively pursuing fame itself, and I think that’s sheer madness; lunacy. Fame is a dog from hell.”
Does Gulezian say this because he is not particularly famous, or because fame is reserved for slaves of the industry? He certainly holds no love for the bossmen of music. “The people who run the music industry do not, never have, and never will understand what music really is. They don’t understand this is a mystical kind of connective experience that binds human beings together in community. For them it’s all about profit; the companies that own the content are the very same companies that own the means of delivery.”
The crux of the problem, as Gulezian sees it, is a blurring of the line between art and entertainment. Art, he says, has “a deeper, more transcendent purpose that cannot be quantified.” Entertainment is when “you want people to like you.” The difference, Gulezian said, is clear when one compares his music with that of, say, Christina Aguilera: “A recording artist? She is a (butt)-wiggling whore-goddess of superficiality and commercialism. Yet they have the audacity to call that art.”
(Nathaniel Miller, Herald Arts and Entertainment Editor)
IF YOU GO
The Durango Society of Cultural and Performing Arts presents
Michael Gulezian, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, at the Abbey Theatre, 128 E. College Drive
$10 for DSCPA members;
those purchasing a $25 annual DSCPA membership receive two free tickets to the event
Guitar Phenom to Play Tonight
As you begin to read this piece, make plans NOW for a performance at TC3 tonight that you don’t want to miss. Guitar virtuoso Michael Gulezian is playing at 7:30 p.m. in the Campus Center and seats will go fast for the free show.
You say you haven’t heard of Gulezian. Well I hadn’t until 1994 while driving one Sunday to Syracuse. On my way to work I used to listen to New Age Sunday on WAER-FM, the Syracuse University jazz station. The program often provided me with new artists to check out and admire.
As I headed north on I-81, I heard the most delicious guitar work that I was sure must be the long awaited latest release from Michael Hedges. As I came closer to Syracuse I listened more intently to the guitar artistry wafting from my speakers. With each new line of instrumental sounds, I was more and more confident this was the natural progression that Hedges would take in this latest release. When the announcer declared the song was “He Planned to Expand” from the disc The Dare of an Angel by Michael Gulezian, I was dumbfounded.
I prided myself on keeping up with the fingerstyle acoustic musicians of the time. How was this music so good and yet I was completely ignorant of this artist? On arrival at my job, I quickly called the radio station to get all the details – spelling, record company, anything to help me track down this must-have album.
It took several weeks and several long distance calls to mail order his Timbreline Music CDs. Several years later I met Michael and we have become close friends.
Several weeks ago I cited the greatness of the late John Fahey, and the pioneer he was in creating Takoma Records, a record company that signed Leo Kottke, George Winston, and Michael Gulezian. His Unspoken Intentions disc allowed him to perform on A Prairie Home Companion with Leo Kottke, to which Garrison Keillor declared, “If I could play guitar the way Michael Gulezian does, I would just sit in front of a mirror and watch myself do it.”
Michael Hedges called Gulezian “a great guitarist. My kindred spirit.”
Gulezian’s newest album, Language of the Flame, will be available at the concert. It is his most ambitious and greatest accomplishment to date. Picking up the torch Hedges left when he passed away, Gulezian runs the good race, striking, tapping, hammering, and muting steel strings on a wooden box creating a beauty and passion that transcends words of description.
For several weeks now I’ve been telling everyone I know to make it to this show. Michael Gulezian is not a household name. His talent, however, surpasses many of those considered important. With TC3’s ample parking and a price tag you can’t argue with (did I mention it’s free?), you have every reason to spend an evening of wonderful music with a world-class musician. Cheers!
(Randi Anglin, Cortland Standard Staff Photographer)
ELKO DAILY FREE PRESS
Acoustic Guitar Innovator to Perform in Clover Valley
Anyone with an ear for great acoustic music should mark their calendar and start making plans to drive out to the Angel Creek Ranch in Clover Valley, just south of Wells. Acclaimed acoustic guitarist Michael Gulezian is scheduled for a special intimate house concert performance to begin at 7 p.m. August 6.
Gulezian, considered to be one of the world’s most innovative performers in the genre of solo acoustic instrumental guitar, has earned accolades for his exceptionally entertaining live performances.
And, while he possesses an extraordinary blend of awesome technical prowess and deeply motivated compositional skills, Gulezian does not try to overwhelm his listeners, but rather to reach out to them in his own manner of nonverbal musical communication. In other words, he does not use his phenomenal technique to dazzle an audience, but to connect to them and touch their hearts with his music, and in so doing he dazzles them regardless.
Gulezian was very close to the late, great guitarist Michael Hedges. It could be said that these two masters of solo acoustic guitar were prime influences on each other, a fact that Hedges acknowledged when he called his friend Gulezian, “A great guitarist. My kindred spirit.”
Takoma Records founder John Fahey, who felt Gulezian’s innovative style was nothing short of revolutionary, helped to bring the young guitarist’s music to a wider audience by reissuing his first album, the self-produced Snow, under the new title of Unspoken Intentions. The album is now considered to be a classic; High Fidelity magazine said that “it may well be the best solo guitar album since Leo Kottke’s justly renowned first effort.”
Currently, Gulezian is touring in support of his newest release, the groundbreaking and adventurous Language of the Flame, which is his fourth album, and is dedicated to the memory of his friend Michael Hedges and also to guitar maker Tom Beeston.
This brilliant new collection displays Gulezian’s ongoing creative efforts to explore and expand the lyrical and rhythmic possibilities of guitar playing and is already reaping a rich harvest of critical acclaim. Jazziz magazine has called it “unbelievable … incredible … music from another planet.”
Tickets will be sold at the door, with reduced rates for seniors and students.
Gulezian discusses St. Olaf’s “Creative Soul” – Guitarist to perform at Lion’s Pause
3/9/01 Vol. 114, No.14
Garrison Keillor once commented, “If I could play guitar the way Michael Gulezian does, I would just sit in front of a mirror and watch myself do it.” In a recent phone interview, solo guitarist Michael Gulezian commented on the brilliant “creative soul” that encompasses this campus. Over half the student body owns a guitar, creates music, and writes poetry.
“This is all a natural and organic part of the human experience,” he said. The students here “accept this process as normal and good.” Gulezian can relate to these means of creativity because it reflects how he was raised. Sadly enough, “it is not like this everywhere,” Gulezian comments.
At many other institutions, Gulezian is forced to focus more on entertaining rather than on musicianship. “Some people just don’t understand that it is more than just wiggling your ass up on stage. At St. Olaf, I can be myself and deliver great music.”
Gulezian believes that great music resonates with this audience because “Olaf students possess intelligence with heart and soul.” When Gulezian plays for the Pause audience, there is no need for a fancy light show or skanky back-up dancers. “In fact,” he states, “a single guitar is more than enough.”
His fingerstyle steel-string guitar method appears magical at first, and only gets better. The late Michael Hedges was influenced by and influenced the style of Michael Gulezian. Hedges called Gulezian “a great guitarist. My kindred spirit.” Gulezian believes that St. Olaf students recognize the difference between artists, and “entertainers.” More importantly, students here realize that music is not “color by numbers.”
Gulezian believes that [copying another artist] is repugnant. Despite this largely shared feeling, there is a real problem with a popular culture that hampers our ability to be individuals. Gulezian recalls one particular occasion where a mother asked him if he could make her young son play and sound just like the great blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughn. He also uses the example of teenage plastic surgery as a result of emphasis on image.
“Why look or sound like someone else?” Gulezian asks. He understands that “no one grows up in a vacuum. We all have our influences, but to copy someone else leaves you empty and without anything to say.”
Gulezian defines a true artist as “someone who uses symbolic thought to express the deepest aspirations of humanity, in a manner that would, in any other way, be inexpressible.” He goes on to add, “St. Olaf celebrates that, and embraces that. That is why I love the Pause and St. Olaf.”
I highly recommend stopping by the Lion’s Pause on Friday the 9th, at 8 p.m. You may just find out something about yourself through this amazing artist.
(Edward Zaspel, Concert and Programming Chair)
CORNELL DAILY SUN
Technique and Emotion – Guitar Master Michael Gulezian Comes to Cornell
Michael Gulezian does not mince words when it comes to contemporary mainstream music: “All of my favorite musicians have an absolute disdain for convention and the status quo. They recognize that life is very short. In the little time we have here, we should look for a higher calling and find our own path, instead of chasing the popular trend.”
In order to redress the grievous errors of an MTV-saturated culture, Gulezian comes to Cornell today armed with only his acoustic guitar, performing music that drips with personality, profundity, and reverence. As an acknowledged virtuoso in “fingerstyle guitar,” Gulezian’s music is rarely confined to the regimented rhythms that have been the crutch of FM rock for decades: “There’s little actual strumming [in fingerstyle]. You can assign any of the right hand fingers to any particular string. I’m sort of a fingerstyle and neo-classical hybrid … some of my rhythms [are] pretty complex. Here in the United States, people are rhythmically deprived. Almost everything we’re exposed to is in a boring, boxy 4/4 time signature.”
Gulezian is well aware that the density and beauty of his rhythms might be somewhat jarring or difficult for neophytes. Explaining his criterion for a true artist, Gulezian finds that “[great musicians], from Shostakovich to Ornette Coleman, do not intentionally try to shock people, or be different merely for the sake of being different. We speak the truth as we interpret it. That may unsettle some people, but only because they’re unaware of what is possible in music.”
To describe the effect, Gulezian draws a striking analogy between music and American foreign policy: “Some people view America as a group of little knights with little white hats, saving damsels in distress. If you can show them this isn’t always the case, they’re absolutely shocked. I think that’s essentially what happened when people first heard Sun Ra or Anthony Braxton and asked, ‘Good God, what is this stuff?’ By contrast, my music is fairly consonant. If my songs seem way outside the lines, it’s a reflection of the listener being exposed primarily to candy-ass musicians like Justin Timberlake. There’s a whole world of music we’re not listening to. I hope I can bring a small part of it to people in an exciting, reflective way.”
There are musical epiphanies only the most talented artists can bestow upon an audience, and on Gulezian’s Language of the Flame, these moments are remarkably frequent. One of the highlights is a cover of Stephen Foster’s “Oh Suzannah,” which extracts the song’s lyrical brilliance from the saccharine overtones it’s typically associated with. Gulezian has “always been disappointed with how it’s traditionally played. It’s usually anything but beautiful. I was trying to find a way to get at the lyrical essence of the piece, and reflect that beauty, and present it musically. As far as I know, no one has really tried to uncover a beautiful lyric like ‘Soon I’ll be in New Orleans / And there I’ll look all round / And when I find Suzannah / I’ll fall upon the ground / And if I do not find her / Then I will surely die / And when I’m dead and buried / Suzannah don’t you cry.’ You don’t sing that all zip-a-dee-doo-dah. There’s enough irony in the lyric to give it some sort of new treatment.”
Gulezian’s father was an ethnomusicologist, and recalls being exposed to every form of music at a young age: “I was very lucky to grow up listening to rock, Jazz, Armenian music, and also to hear classical Indian music, Chinese music, Middle Eastern music, Gregorian chants, improvisational ragas. I was hearing the connections between all these, and seeing it as a unified field of sound that transcended objective reality.
Since releasing his first album, Gulezian has received acclaim from such guitar masters as John Fahey, Michael Hedges, and Henry Kaiser. Gulezian believes “there is not a whole lot I can’t articulate technically. The technique affords you a palette from which to paint, but the real goal is to express something that goes beyond technique and reaches people on a very deep emotional and spiritual level.”
Michael Gulezian plays at the Memorial Room in Willard Straight Hall today at 8:00 p.m.
(Alex Linhardt, Red Letter Daze Editor In Chief)
“… ingenuity and mastership. Michael Gulezian uses his guitar as a medium to pour out his soul. Every note that comes from Gulezian transgresses our indoctrinated notions of what music is and what music does … name the un-nameable and communicate the unknowable.” The Manitou Messenger, ST. OLAF COLLEGE
“A great guitarist. My kindred spirit.” Michael Hedges
“One of the most dazzling solo acoustic guitarists in the world today … to see Gulezian alone on stage with his guitar is to watch a master at work.” Santa Cruz Sentinal
“I wish there was a video component to what we do because Michael positively dances with the guitar, if one can do that sitting down. … incredible spiritual relationship with his instrument. A great discovery.” David Dye (World Cafe / National Public Radio)
“Such a degree of emotional power and intensity … [you] forget that this is a reality expressed by only one guitar.” Psychedelic Folk.com
“Gulezian rips … but for all his virtuosic ferocity, Michael never loses sight of the melody, or the drama of his compositions.” Acoustic Guitar Magazine
“If the Rocky Mountains had a soundtrack, it would be written by Michael Gulezian.” the Lariat, Baylor University
“… gorgeous … profound … guitar music imbued with mystical, spiritual essence.” Bridge Reviews
“Public radio favorite Michael Gulezian always has had strong ties to Minnesota and its guitar innovators, from world-rockin’ Steve Tibbetts to bluesy Peter Lang. Yet he ranges far beyond folk, playing hard-driving music that recalls Leo Kottke and the late Michael Hedges, who called him “my kindred spirit.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“one of the most amazing acoustic guitarists on earth. Michael Gulezian puts his entire heart and soul, his entire being, into every song he does live. … incredible passion, and unbelievable technical skill …” Dore Stein, Producer/Host, Tangents Music Radio
“… virtuosic, other-worldly, oddly tuned acoustic guitar fireworks … a percussive style that creates sonic landscapes so vivid you can practically touch ’em.” Raleigh-Durham News & Observer
“Gulezian’s place [is] among the great acoustic guitar innovators of the 20th Century.” Music Web Express
“Michael Gulezian carries the legacy of pioneering guitarists John Fahey and Leo Kottke into the 21st century. … extraordinary talent. … sublime control and deep absorption of disparate styles, from the brawny soulfulness of the Delta masters, to the ethereal arabesques of Persian court music, to the playful syncopations of American jazz.” Doug DeLoach, Creative Loafing
“… a blazing finger-style player … an individual style that speaks of the austerity of the American Midwest.” Tower Pulse
“… musical epiphanies only the most talented of artists can bestow upon an audience …” Cornell Daily Sun
“Listening to Michael play helps you re-discover your soul.” Northland College
“Gulezian’s completely unplugged music is miles and miles away from so much techno-pop and electrical gimmickry. … beautiful music … extraordinary.” Music Design Review
“With a lone acoustic guitar, Michael Gulezian creates textures that are just as rich and powerful as any multi-piece band. His instrumental compositions … conjure stories that are up to personal interpretation and still universally vivid.” Sarah Kenoyer, Monterey County Weekly
“… unbelievable … incredible … music from another planet.” JAZZIZ Magazine
“… his giddy sense of humor, his passion and sincerity – it all leaves you wanting more. You can’t help but love Michael Gulezian.” Julie Amacher, National Music Host, Minnesota Public Radio
“… uncommonly thoughtful and provocative … technical wizardry… sweeping story-like melodies, multi-dimensional epics, and heartland hymns. … smart, uplifting … not to be missed.” Jazz Times
“Gulezian messes with space and time in ways French composer Erik Satie could only dream of.” Dirty Linen
“… complexity that breaks free … There is in the beauty of Gulezian’s work a kind of invisible smiling face, a joyful set of eyes which are winking back at us from across the stage.” Minor 7th .com
“Gulezian’s place is among the pantheon of greats including Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho, and John Fahey. Stunningly beautiful … Breathtaking …” MUZE Reviews
“… exquisite … amazing …” Bob Boilen, All Things Considered / National Public Radio
“michael’s unique approach to acoustic 6 and 12 string amazes me to this day … compositions and tunings are unreal.” Edgar Cruz
“… spectacular …” Mike Keneally
“… guitar monster …” John Diliberto, Host / Producer, Echoes (Public Radio International)
“a powerful and emotive artist. better than the best of the best of the best … uber-ninja.” Andy McKee
“… a formidable player …” Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“… jaw-dropping virtuosity …” San Francisco Bay Guardian
“… one of the most respected jazz-folk instrumentalists in the country.” Noel Murray, Nashville Scene
“… a man who listens to his calling with ferocious talent and grace.” Charlie Schmidt
“… epoch-breaking …” John Fahey
“Michael Gulezian is the AntiChet.” Tim Sparks
“… fingerstyle guitar legend …” Fretboard Journal
“solo acoustic guitar heavyweight …” Dan Leinfelder, onMilwaukee .com
“… total virtuoso …” Dan Nailen, Salt Lake City Tribune
“Michael Gulezian is the Rumi of fingerstyle guitar music.” Rachael Carlson
“… a one-man guitar orchestra. A brilliant guitarist, a sensitive and soulful vocalist. And … he’s hysterically funny.” Terry Meyer, Programming Director, Big Top Chatauqua
“If I could play guitar the way Michael Gulezian does, I would just sit in front of a mirror and watch myself do it.” Garrison Keillor, a Prairie Home Companion
Downloadable Posters and Flyers
Airplay info for Michael’s “Concert at St. Olaf College” release