After performing as a duo for eight years, Australian born fingerstyle guitarist Owen Van Larkins decided to step out as a solo artist in 2012. "Working as a duo was amazing," Van Larkins says. "But to grow as a musician and travel it was just so much more simple as a solo artist."
Van Larkins brings his solo-debut, Wandering Hands, to Canada this summer, showcasing his unique approach to acoustic guitar.
Van Larkins began playing the guitar at a young age, focusing primarily on hard rock and groove based playing before finding baroque music at 16, leading him to experiment within the parameters of fingerstyle guitar.
"I try to use my imagination as much as I can when it comes to the guitar...when you look at it, it's very simple, but when you hold it in your hands and start playing the guitar, you're really only limited by your own imagination."
His imagination led him to a unique playing style that allows his acoustic guitar to mask itself as four different instruments, creating sounds similar to a mandolin, bass, guitar and drums. On top of his complicated fretwork, Van Larkins also developed a technique in which he wiggles the capo on his guitar to create an effect similar to a whammy bar on an electric guitar, leading some to call him the king of whammy capo.
"With this genre there are so many talented artists out there, it can be really difficult to find something that stands out," Van Larkins says. But listeners took notice. He was signed to indie-fingerstyle guitar label Candyrat Records in the US, and his YouTube performances have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
Although his playing seems complex, Van Larkins offers fans an inclusive experience, selling sheet music and tablature online and at shows, with plans to host online guitar lessons and transcribing services in the future.
"I may be getting a lot of different sounds out of the instrument, but at the end of the day it's a guitar," he says. "I think it just makes sense to make it accessible."
Owen Van Larkins w/ Trevor Gordon Hall, Maneli Jamal, Sunday, July 15 at The Carleton, 1685 Argyle Street, 9pm, $17.50
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