North State musician, Garrett Viggers will appear tonight at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, GA. He is currently on a nearly two-month tour with Jim Brickman’s “Beautiful World” Christmas Tour. Garrett plays the hammered and lap dulcimer alongside electric violinist Tracy Silverman, singer Anne Cochran, Celtic harpist and singer Orla Fallon (formerly of Celtic Women), singer and songwriter Mark Masri and singer and songwriter Victoria Shaw. I chatted with Garrett about his music, the tour and the re-release of his holiday album, Emmanuel.
How did you get your start in music?
I started playing guitar in church when I was 18 years old, and have been involved with music and arts at Risen King Community Church for the past 9 years. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to play locally in Redding at Yaks, Vintner’s Cellar, Cascade Theater, Mt. Shasta Mall, and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Second Saturday ArtHop. When I was 20 years old I heard Rich Mullins, a Christian artist, singing and playing the hammered dulcimer and a short while later I found one in a music shop by the Pike Place Market in Seattle.
This instrument contains both melodic and percussive elements that I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with. More recently, I began playing the lap dulcimer, after trying one in Chattanooga at a festival. I play the lap dulcimer like a guitar, not on my lap. I had a few lessons on guitar and hammered dulcimer throughout the years, but then had the chance to dive in to Shasta College’s music program for a few years. I took two Diatonic Harmony classes with Dr. Fiske – and loved every minute of it. This season helped me build a musical theory foundation to build upon. Currently, I have a hammered dulcimer mentor, Dan Landrum, who toured with Yanni for three years that has helped shape my playing for the past five years.
What was the impetus for the CD originally? How will it be different from the last release?
In 2007, after graduating from Simpson University, I was ready to record something. At first, I wanted to tackle an all-original project that included vocals with hammer and lap dulcimer as well as guitar with bass and drums, but I was drawn to start with a Christmas project. Christmas tunes are very melodic, which work great with the hammered dulcimer. I also love the story of Jesus’ birth, and the beginning of a new season for humanity. This new release is through a label, Lucid Artist Management, in Nashville. They will be distributing the CD in Christian bookstores throughout the area during the tour.
Any plans for more recording?
I have two projects I’m looking at in 2010. First, an original project with songs I’ve written. Second, I would like to produce another instrumental project with much of the same world instruments and sounds from Emmanuel. Also, I may have some other projects, including a Celtic Christmas project that a new friend, Orla Fallon will be working on in spring of 2010. She was formerly of Celtic Women and has now released a solo project titled, Distant Shore. She sings and plays the harp brilliantly.
How did the tour come about? How did you get involved?
In April, I had the opportunity to record one of Rich Mullins’ hammered dulcimer songs with a band called Third Day, after they played at the Civic Auditorium. My friends Jesse and Lyn Rosten filmed the song and Jeremy Edwardson, from The Soundhouse Studio in Redding, mixed the audio. This mysterious event has led to many other open doors which ultimately led to being a part of the Jim Brickman Beautfiul World Christmas Tour. The connection to Jim Brickman was through my Redding friend, David Pringle, who was Jim Brickman’s original manager for many years and has been helping me through this new musical adventure I find myself on.
What are your expectations? What are you most nervous about? Most excited about?
I’ve tried not to have many expectations, other than I plan on being stretched and grow as an artist. I’m probably most nervous about thinking too much before going on stage. Sometimes I can over-think a performance, rather than embrace the moment and realize this is part of my journey. I’m most excited about playing music with incredible artists, and being able to share it with people all over the country, especially the Christmas story.
How do you feel about being away from home for so long? Is your family joining you for any part of the tour?
Going on this tour was no easy decision to make with a beautiful bride and three amazing children to be away from. It caused me to enjoy every minute with my family before the tour. My family won’t be joining me for any part of the tour, as it’s mainly on the East Coast. The closest show to the West Coast is in Oklahoma City.
Any plans to perform locally when you return?
I fly home on January 1st and plan to play locally. I’m booked to play at Vintner’s Cellar on February 25.
Learn more about Garret’s music and his tour at garrettviggers.com. Purchase Garrett’s CD on his site or at Vintner’s Cellar Custom Winery in Redding.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Reach Adam at email@example.com.