Michael Chapdelaine – 04/14/12
Boumel House Concert Series
Coral Springs, FL
Magic. In the dead of summer, a twelve year old boy is placed on a bus and driven to an un-airconditioned theater mid-afternoon. Sitting in an old vaudevillian palace replete with football-field-size red velvet curtain and an old-time, uneven wood-planked stage, he sits amidst a sea of screaming, sweating middle and senior high schoolers. A single microphone, two feet off the floor and angled downward, is positioned midway between the closed sea of red and the exposed tongue of stage. Suddenly, unobtrusively, quietly and unassumingly, a white haired, aged man in black shoes, beige slacks and a white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, appears from stage left carrying a three legged stool and small classical guitar. The janitor perhaps placing final touches? Unexpectedly, the man sets the stool down near the microphone, sits upon it, and for the next forty-five minutes embraces the guitar to unleash a deluge of musical history. The man: Andre Segovia. The boy: me. And my world was changed forever. So if such a brief encounter with magic could so incredibly, so indelibly alter my belief, understanding and experience of music in perpetuity, what then must have been the impact for one who actually talked with, studied with, laughed with, and at times even sparred with such a magi? For that answer you’d have to ask Michael Chapdelaine (www.michaelchapdelaine.com).
Now greatest is an illusion, for in the end Segovia was just one of those people lucky enough to be in the right place and at the right time to change all of our worlds forever. And that greatness, illusive as it can be, now lives in Michael. Capitalizing upon his time with the grand master, his career was forged in the flames of such renowned dead-pan critics as Glenn Giffin (Denver Post) and Richard Storm (Herald-Tribune), tempering him into the only guitarist ever to win first prize in both international classical and fingerstyle competitions. Michael now tours the world sharing his brilliance with everyone from European delegates and royalty to American celebrities such as pop icon Jackson Browne and “Star Man” Jeff Bridges. To say that wizardry of genius only dwells and wells up in certain individuals is an assumption. To say that it has risen in Michael Chapdelaine is a given.
And so it was that an evening of magic swelled for the rest of us this past Saturday at Arlene Boumel’s final house concert of the 2012 season when Michael Chapdelaine opened to a packed house with several inspired covers from the classic rock era, including Otis Redding’s hit On The Dock Of The Bay (1968, Volt), Mentor William’s 70’s classic Drift Away, and Eric Clapton’s memorable Wonderful Tonight (1977, RSO). Next, he moved into more emotive and esoteric works like his extraordinarily rhapsodic version of George Harrison’s Something (1969, Apple). Then, he breached the apex of the first set with two songs. The first was Michael’s arrangement of a Roland Dyens work titled Saudade, an incredibly varied composition resembling a Dostoevsky like reduction of Charlie Parker into six strings but without the heroin yet with all the excitement. The next was his own piece, also titled Saudade, which was a masterful love song having all the musical weight, bearing and soulful comfort of Jeff Beck’s immortal arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers. Michael then finished the opening half of the show with several of his own works including Rumores De La Caleta from his 1999 CD titled Spanish Roses and the first original he ever wrote, a contemplative piece titled Beau Fleuve.
In his second set of the evening Michael opened with another Beatle’s tune by request: Come Together (1969, Apple). If you missed the evening or just want to relive this amazing performance, including its one-man-band style percussion and strings, then go to :
While I’m seldom one to insert YouTube links, this is an amazing performance well worth seeing. He followed this with two originals from his Land Of Enchantment CD (1998), which included the title track and a spicy, rapid-fire, mouth-popping number called Blue Chili. Then came the Francisco Tárrega classic Caprichio Arabe with its musical pirouettes and grand jetés which had Michael’s fingerstips – and the audience – whirling and jumping from start to finish. He then gently brought everyone back home with a final collection of original and cover arrangements, including a multi-pieced encore which began with a dazzling rendition of the Surfari’s Wipe Out (1963, Dot) complete with tell-tale drum solo a-la guitar.
So, magic is as magic does, and to each their own experience of it. For some it is the majesty of the eyes and what shines before them. For others it is the tastes and textures of a feast which sends their tastebuds reeling. But for Michael Chapdelaine, somewhere between his fingertips and soul lays that unmistakable foci from whence all grandeur emanates. Listen.