My guest last night on installment number twenty four of ROCK ON RADIO was Trenton, NJ, guitar virtuoso GREG MERKLE.
To say that this man is talented would truly be an understatement. In all of my years involved with music and musicians I have NEVER seen anyone play an acoustic guitar in the likes of what I witnessed
on this past Sunday evening.
The term "virtuoso" is extremely accurate when discussing Merkle. His "finger-tapping" style, accompanied with an uncanny ability to hit harmonic chords and notes at will, separate him from most other
Already knowing how to play the violin, and being heavily influenced by his brother, Merkle admitted that it was "peer pressure" that led him to play the guitar. You see, his friends were all musical
at a young age. So, not wanting to be the odd man out, at the age of twelve he picked up an acoustic guitar and taught himself how to play. He and his friends would sit around the basement and try to "outplay'
each other, experimenting with different chords, sounds, and styles. Shortly thereafter, he went to see Stanley Jordan in concert. This influenced his unique form to this day.
Using a combination of finger-tapping, harmonics, and various chords, Merkle's sound is truly one of a kind. In 1989 he entered a contest that was sponsored by D'Addario Guitar Strings. They were looking
for the best submitted guitar solo. The solos had to be of one minute or less in length. So, on a whim, Merkle recorded a fifty-eight second composition entitled "61 Wiggins St." and submitted it to the
contest. He chuckled as he recounted that it was recorded and sent in on a "cassette tape."
Almost a year later, he received a phone call from D'Addario stating that he won the contest. Thinking that it was "a friend playing a trick" on him, he promptly hung up on the call. Fortunately for
him, they called back. The prize he won was a trip to the NAMM Convention in California. Once there he met Richard Hoover of the Santa Cruz guitar company. Here he forged a partnership that's still in existence
today. He continues to use Santa Cruz guitars, calling them "some of the most amazing instruments made today."
This helped to propel him into a musical career. Merkle began touring the U.S. opening for acts such as John Hammond, Jr., Taj Mahal, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Johnny Cash, to name a few. Proudly, yet
sheepishly, admitting to me that he received calls for encores as an opening act, Merkle takes pride in these accomplishments.
His compositions (as of now) are strictly instrumental. His debut CD, "Big Guitar," is a small collection of his "huge" talent. When listening to this assemblage of intricate guitar works, keep in mind
this equation: "One man + One acoustic guitar = Amazing!" Borrowing a phrase from Hollywood: "There were NO effects harmed in the making of this CD." Simply put: this is raw talent and ability, my friends.
Merkle's talents are not limited to guitar only. He dabbles in film making, video production, and graphic arts. He's provided background music for documentaries, and it's his design that graces the cover
of The Hooters "Out Of Body" album. You can also add "teacher" to that list as he occasionally traverses the country giving seminars on the art of "finger-tapping." His next seminar is scheduled for November
8th in Durham, NC.
Whether you're a musician or not you should give a listen to GREG MERKLE. I offer this disclaimer: "Caution! This may cause you to become mesmerized."
"Big Guitar" is available on iTunes and CD Baby. GREG MERKLE can be found at www.myspace.com/gregmerkleguitar or at
This Sunday on ROCK ON RADIO my guest is Philadelphia, PA, area musician JASON AGER (www.myspace.com/jasonagermusic).
Turn on at 10pm EST. Tune into www.wifi1460am.com and, as always, ROCK ON!
Quick side note: Replays of ROCK ON RADIO can now be heard on Tuesday afternoons at 2pm EST on www.hamiltonradio.net. This
is a great internet music station that offers an alternative to basic FM formats. They play classics "B" sides and seldom-heard tracks from the last five decades.