RUSS HEWITT
Bajo El Sol
(Saulito)

 

The time honored traditions of Flamenco guitar music received a huge injection of fresh interest in the ‘90s and pretty soon genres such as Nuevo Flamenco and Rhumba Flamenco started making their way in the American musical dialect in a big way. Just this past decade, established guitar names like Armik and the group Incendio made enormous inroads in the world of modern flamenco guitar sounds. One rising guitarist / composer set to make his own mark on the guitar world in the coming decade is Texas-based Russ Hewitt. Having earlier cut his teeth in the rock world, opening for big names such as Zakk Wylde and Sammy Hagar, Hewitt looks youthful and eager but beneath the rock guitar veneer is a guitarist with in depth training on classical guitar who can clearly hold his own with the best. On his 2009 CD Bajo El Sol, Hewitt is backed up by top players including Walfredo Reyes Jr. on drums, that in itself says a lot about the young guitarist’s wide ranging musical skills. Reyes played on Steve Winwood’s About Time comeback in 2003 and that same syncopated world beat groove permeates Hewitt’s album in a positive way. Jazzers and rockers looking for a big beat, Nuevo flamenco guitar experience must check out Hewitt's CD. Ostensibly, Bajo El Sol is very much a modern, instrumental Nuevo Flamenco album yet peer a little under the surface and you’ll find a guitar-centric album of enormous depth and musical appeal. Producer / engineer Bob Parr—who also handles the electric bass / keyboards here—did a fine job helping Hewitt’s music and sound achieve such a high level of studio sheen. Also appearing with Hewitt is Alfredo Caceres (on rhythm and harmony guitars) and Rafael Padilla (on added percussion). Many reviewers have touted Hewitt—and rightly so—as one of the bright, up and coming Nuevo Flamenco artists to watch in the coming decade. Even with so many accolades arriving in time for Hewitt early in his career, there’s still an undeniable range of excellent guitar work on the ten track Bajo El Sol for flamenco, classical guitar and World Beat music fans to appreciate and enjoy. www.RussHewittMusic.com

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RUSS HEWITT - Guitars Center Stage

Guitarists making waves in the music world,
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Musical Background

I started playing guitar mainly because my older brother played and I just followed suit at about 11 years old. It wasn't until a couple of years later when he quit and sold me all his gear that I started to take it seriously. After high school I wanted to continue my education so I ended up going the the University of North Texas and getting a degree in classical guitar performance.

During this time I was still playing clubs in various rock bands. In the mid 90's I also started playing Nuevo flamenco in restaurants and when because solos weren't popular in songs at the time it was a great way for me to keep up my chops and improvise. After my last rock band broke up I decided to do Nuevo flamenco full time.


New CD


My CD is called Bajo el Sol which means under the sun in Spanish. I originally recorded it all in one day with the band playing live. I flew in the producer who did my last rock band CD, Bob Parr, to engineer and mix the project. During the mix process there ended up being a ton of sonic problems—old drum heads made the bass sound out of tune, my miked Godin guitar had no low end and a ton of mid range, every instrument seemed to have its own problem. After the CD was done Bob and I sat down and thought out loud that it was good but we could do a lot better, so we trashed everything and started the recording process over.

Bob brought in some of his friends, Walfredo Reyes Jr. (Santana, Strunz and Farah, Ricky Martin) on drums, Rafael Padilla (Miami Sound Machine, Shakira) on percussion and I had started playing with a flamenco guitar prodigy named Alfredo Caceres as well. Also by doing this it allowed Bob to become the producer of the project and tweaked out each song. I feel it's a good representation of who I am as a guitar player. Hopefully with the next CD you can hear growth in song writing and soloing.


Favorite Guitars

I just got a James Tyler Burning Water electric guitar and I love it. It's my main guitar when I do studio work. To me it's all about the neck of a guitar and the Tyler feels incredible, you have to play one if you come across one. I use a Diezel head, Herbert model, with a VHT cabinet and a old Metaltronix cabinet that's built like a tank. On my latest CD I used a Taylor NS72ce nylon string guitar for all leads and melodies. It has a very 'spongy ' feel to the guitar which allows me to be a little rough with it. Live I don't like the bulkiness of acoustics so I use a Godin grand concert duet. It has a perfect balance between the bass and treble strings, which was the number one problem I kept having once I plugged in, with D'Addario hard tension strings set very low. I tried several acoustic amps but I couldn't get the volume or tone control I was looking for so went all pedals. I start with a Radial PZ pre 2 channel acoustic preamp made by Tonebone going into a Electro Harmonix Black Finger, again for the 'spongy' sound, and finally a TC Electonics Nova delay.


Musical Influences


One of the first guitar heroes was Ace Frehley. I was real young and didn't even play guitar but I loved Kiss. When I started playing Ozzy’s first two solo albums with Randy Rhoads, Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman, got worn out. I wished the solos would go on forever. Rik Emmett of Triumph was great because he had these great rock songs but on every album he had an acoustic piece. "A Midsummer's Daydream" off of Triumph’s Thunder Seven album was a big thrill once I learned it. I also got heavily into the 80's shred guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, Vinnie Moore, Jason Becker, etc.

For a span of about two years I would go see Pantera at a small club called 'Joe's Garage' where they would play two sets. The first would be covers and the second was originals. They were literally there every other weekend. A lot of my licks and chops that I do in my Nuevo flamenco are old shred licks from the day. I've recently been getting into Gypsy jazz guitar playing. You can hear a bunch of influence in my solos as well.


Upcoming Plans

I’m currently working on a Christmas CD to be released next year. I know that doesn't sound terribly exciting but my producer, Bob Parr and I are definitely going to push the boundaries with the arrangements and accompaniments to the melodies that everybody knows. I start recording the next original CD February 3rd. I'm bringing back everybody from the last CD: Walfredo Reyes Jr. - drums, Rafael Padilla - percussion, Bob Parr - bass, Alfredo Caceres - guitar, because everybody seemed to be on the same page musically with what I wanted to do with my songs. It's surprisingly hard to get players to do what's best for the song and not over play. I'm also going to incorporate some of the players I've been using live locally. I'm also looking to add other instrumentation like violin, accordion or whatever I can think of. I have steady gigs and festival work here in Dallas but I would like to start to do more bigger shows and festivals around the country and eventually be able to tour full time.



Web Site


My website is www.russhewittmusic.com
which has a way to contact me through e-mail
or at www.myspace.com/russhewittmusic

 

 
   
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