'The Myth. The Legend. The Man: Revealed'
Visionary guitarist Esteban has just released his highly anticipated 16th studio album, Best of Esteban (Dreambox Records) this past October. This release exemplifies why Billboard Top 200 charting Esteban continues to be one of the most exciting and important forces in classical and modern guitar playing and why Best of Esteban is being hailed as his most accomplished album to date.
With Best of Esteban, one of the world’s most prolific composers and guitarists of our time has not merely created a retrospective. Instead of a simple cut-and-paste collection, the man once known as Stephen Paul took a handful of concert favorites and returned to the studio to reinvent them. The result is a 12-track ride combining the likes of fiery blues, classic rock, original jazz and stylish flamenco.
Trademark songs like “Fuego Malaguena” - a reworking of “Malaguena” from 2001’s 'All My Love' – have, as the title denotes, been given extra fire, fusing more rock influence into his atmospheric flamenco-based performance. “Runaway,” Del Shannon’s classic, is also seeing life in a completely new way.
OK, taking it from the top and at what time did Stephen Paul from
Pittsburgh decide that Esteban was to be his new stage name? And just where
did you cull that choice from anyway? "Segovia gave me the name when I first studied with him. He could not say STEPHEN properly. The PH part. Esteban is STEPHEN in Spanish."
And while we're on the subject of your reincarnation, at what point did
wearing a black bolero hat, black sunglasses, and black clothing in general
become your recognized clothing (and color!) of choice? "I had no money when I was in Spain, so I sat on street corners playing guitar for tips. In black clothes. I had two sets of clothes. All black. Shirt and pants. They hid the dirt very well. Only twice a week to the laundry. I always looked decent thay way. Any other color showed the dirt a lot more."
"I wore the hat because a lot of flamenco players wore those hats and I found one at a used clothing store over there for 10 pesetas. The glasses, well, I was hit by a baseball when I was 12 and lost 70% of the sight in my left eye. My eyes were very photosensitive after that. So I always wore shades even then because I got headaches if I didn't. When I was hit by a drunk driver in 1980 I lost total sight in that eye and even became more photosensitive."
Knowing that it was your uncle who purchased your first guitar, a
nylon-stringer Goya for you at age eight and a half, how was such a young
boy able to teach himself to play the instrument so well? Moreover, you
taught yourself so well that you even began teaching your peers at the age
of twelve for $3 a lesson!! "The guitar came naturally to me. When I got it I immediatedly got some chord hooks and began playing all the time. Whenever I could. My Uncle played guitar records for me and I copied the songs note for note right off of the albums. I was playing everything by ear and I excelled. The word spread and kids from school wanted to play like me. I taught on the ping-pong table in the basement from 12-15. Then I taught in a music store/studio in Pittsburgh on Liberty Ave called Petty's Music."
Tell me about your craziest touring experience to date thus far! "Craziest?! Well, we had a major performance at Spencer Theatre in New
Mexico. It was sold out. The morning of the gig, my drummer called me at 5am. He said he was in pain. I went to his room and found him writhing on
the floor. I put him into my rental car and took him to the hospital. He
was passing stones, and literally he passed out from the pain. They drugged him up, and admitted him. I had no drummer for the gig and 75% of the songs were upbeat latin rock. So I was in trouble. I went back to the
hospital and saw Joe my Drummer. He said he would play no matter what. To
make a long story short we played the gig with him bending over the drums
in pain. Seldom missing a beat he was totally drugged up from Vicodin and we got standing ovations! Then he went back to the hospital. What a day!!"
Is it true to say that you have a musical infatuation with the late
father of the modern classical guitar movement, Andres Segovia?! And if so,
to what extent? "He was the father of the guitar. No one has ever played like him. No one ever will. I truly believe that. His life was a destiny dedicated for the guitar. He recorded difficult guitar pieces on "one take" at RCA studios in NYC, or wherever he recorded. This is absolutely UNHEARD OF today. His level of command was and is unparralled. It was an honor to just sit beside him."
After your car accident you were left with nerve damage so bad in your
hands you had to give playing the guitar up. Then, in 1988 you discovered
Chinese herbs and acupuncture which once experimented with allowed you to
regain feeling in your hands, for the most part. What made you try this
method of 'healing' and how long did it take before positive signs were
noticed? "I started acupuncture in late 1988 and in 6 months I could feel my left
hand again and all of the fingers. By 1989 I knew I was going back to the
guitar. By 1990 I was performing again."
Moving on to 1991 and coming back into the concert limelight with the
help of QVC, could you have ever imagined in your wildest dreams selling
over 50,000 albums after just six concerts for the channel?! "I was happy!!!"
With your new CD (your 16th) now out and fittingly entitled 'The Best of
Esteban,' how did you choose the 12 tracks and in what way did you reinvent
them, as stated in your press? "They're all of my favorite songs. It's that simple!"
Choosing to cover Del Shannon's wonderful 'Runaway' (a song I love) was
a great choice, and the way you brought it back to life in your own style
very imaginative, very vibrant, very fresh. But, are such reworkings as
these always your first choice of styling or do other attempts fall by the
wayside at the beginning - as what sounded great in your head just didn't
come out the same way through your guitar? "'Runaway' was a hit from the first time I played it live. It rocks!"
If there was one song of yours that you could choose to be your own
personal anthem, which one would it be and why? "'Fuego Malaguena.' Look at the movie short on my web. It captures the Spanish spirit and it rocks!"
Finally, Exclusive Magazine like Penguins, do you?! "I love penguins! I took my kids five times to see them at Sea World!!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for
the future "Take care and thanks. Esteban."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Esteban's new CD, and you think you know all there is to know about the man, just answer this easy question: Esteban graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1972, majoring in which two subjects?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: ESTEBAN SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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