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Duo offers 'Whole Lotta Music'

March 23, 2011
Most of the audience at the recent Jasper Arts Center concert didn't really know what to expect when they bought tickets for the DePue and De Hoyos performance. They just trusted the venue and the people who manage it, knowing that it must be a good show or it wouldn't have been booked.

And they were right. The concert was one of the "Backstage Series" shows scheduled by the center and was soon to be a concert those attending would remember for years to come.

Alex DePue may not be a household name, but he certainly should be. He is a musician's musician, one who other musicians watch in awe as he shows how much music can come from one violin, or what he refers to as a fiddle.

During the present tour that brought him to the Jasper Arts Center, he teamed with guitarist Miguel De Hoyos, and the duo have played venues all over the country. The duo prefers smaller, more intimate theaters, and the Jasper appearance illustrated why as the show was "up close and personal" and the interaction with the audience was an important part of the performance — and the crowd ate it up. Just days before the Jasper show, De Hoyos had to leave the tour "due to unforeseen circumstances" and was replaced by his good friend and fellow guitarist Joel Sanchez, who is, beyond doubt, one of the most entertaining guitar players in recent times.

Not knowing what to expect put the audience in a position to be, not just surprised, but shocked, when the two musicians walked on stage with their instruments, sat down on folding chairs and tore into their first song. It was obvious from the beginning that DePue and Sanchez knew their instruments and how to wow an audience.

DePue, who calls himself "the fiddler," began taking classical violin lessons at age 5. He won his first major competition at age 10, and, at 14 he won a competition that entitled him to perform at Carnegie Hall as concertmaster for the National Guild Youth Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has continued to win competitions and perform with orchestras and festivals all over the world.

But despite his classical training, DePue took an interest in fiddling, as well, and began competing in old-time fiddle contests when he was only 7 years old. He was the Michigan state fiddling champion in the 1990s, has won first place in fiddling contests in several other states and has been ranked repeatedly as one of the top 10 fiddlers in the nation. In 2006, he was deemed "Fiddle King" at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Ala. DePue toured as musical director and fiddle player for recording artist Chris Cagle from 2000 to 2006 and appears on the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Television, Great American Country and VH1 Country.

In 2007, DePue joined legendary rock guitarist Steve Vai for a world tour across North America, South America and Europe. He teamed with guitarist Miguel De Hoyos last year, and the two have toured all over the country and have recorded two albums, "Underground Whispers" and "Twisted Strings."

Sanchez is a maestro guitarist, producer, composer and music arranger. A classically trained musician, he began playing at the age of 7. He has also released four solo CDs to great success in Mexico and the United States and has performed with several orchestras throughout Latin and North America. He has performed with numerous popular musicians including Raul D'Blassio, Lupita D'Alesio and Vai and also has appeared as international guitar soloist in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, Latin American Festival in Milan, Italy, and the Latin American Festival of Cinema.

But DePue and Sanchez didn't come to the Jasper Arts Center to play classical music. They came to have fun, and it was obvious they succeeded. Instead of Bach, they played "Black Magic Woman" by Santana — and tore it up. Instead of Mozart, they went for the Eagles' "Hotel California." The Eagles would be jealous of how well the duo made it sound.

DePue uses a "waa-waa" pedal with his fiddle with amazing results. Led Zeppelin was within reach and, although it's hard to imagine a fiddle player and one guitar attempting to do "Whole Lotta Love," DePue and Sanchez took the song to a totally new level, inserting a little classical and a little bluegrass, making the song into something that should be titled "Whole Lotta Music."

About halfway through the show, the two split up and performed solo. Sanchez sat down at an assortment of percussion instruments hooked to foot pedals, and as his two feet played the percussion parts, his two hands played the guitar parts. It was an amazing feat to watch. He breezed through the theme from "Mission Impossible" and went on to re-invent Herb Albert's "Tequila" which delighted the audience. He also played a traditional Mexican song with a jazz lean that was nothing less than touching.

The two joined again on stage and treated the audience with an entertaining version of "Dueling Banjos" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" then slowed down the pace with "Stairway to Heaven," the Kansas hit "Dust in the Wind" and "The William Tell Overture."

It seemed the two were just getting warmed up when they lit into "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the Yes hit "Owner of the Lonely Heart" and Lionel Richie's "I Love You." Then, they sealed the evening with a version of "Autumn Leaves" that left the audience longing for more and brought them a standing ovation.

The Jasper Arts Center is a little gem in Southern Indiana and, with shows like this, it's easy to see why it has flourished in recent years. Just a short drive for those living in Crawford and Harrison counties, the center has a lot to offer, including art shows, plays and musical events. Currently, the center has embraced the National Youth Art Month with a month-long exhibition of art by area students. And for those die-hard Led Zeppelin fans, the center will host "Get the Led Out" at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The concert will feature more than 40 Led Zeppelin songs by well-known musicians, recreating the energy and talent of the British band that many believe will be the Bach and Beethoven of our time.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 1-812-482-3070 or visit www.jasperarts.org.

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    Great Review!
    March 25, 2011 | 10:52 PM

    I wish I could have been there!

    LA Bell
Schuler Bauer
12 - 14 - 19
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