VIDEO — Musically, guitarist Adrian Bellue has made major changes since he started playing guitar 11 years ago.
Musically, Sacramento, Calif., guitarist Adrian Bellue has made major changes since he started playing guitar 11 years ago.
"I was playing a lot of heavy metal," Bellue says. "When you're younger and start playing, you start getting heavier and heavier until you realize 'Oh, wait, this isn't what it's all about.' "
Initially, Bellue didn't want to play guitar for a living. Rather, he became heavily involved in kung fu and Buddhism, until a serious injury while doing the former brought him back to the guitar.
"I had started listening to traditional fingerstyle guitarists like Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke, as well as newer guys like Andy McKee," Bellue says. "I decided that I could take a different path. Rather than doing martial arts, I could do guitar arts and explore new ideas as far as percussion and doing multiple things at once while playing."
Bellue will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 23, at Enoteca Wine Tasting & Bistro, 17 N. Main St., Ashland. He will be joined by local guitarist Tye Austin. Tickets cost $20 at the door, or $15 in advance and are available at Enoteca.
Bellue released his first album, "Draw Inspiration," at the beginning of 2013. He co-produced the album with Brian Bender, a home-studio producer in Bellue's hometown. To draw inspiration for his songs, Bellue would often read, ride his bike or meditate in the studio before he picked up the guitar and hit record.
"I'm really into a lot of aspects about the philosophy of music," Bellue says. "Music's all there, you just have to tune in to it. When we hit record, what happens happens."
Bellue's recordings are mostly improvisations, using a basic structure but with a changed tuning, rhythm and groove.
"It's almost like a fresh palette to paint with," Bellue says. "There are fewer rules. It sort of forces me to move on to a new melodic idea."
After an initial recording, Bellue likes to revisit the songs to see where else he can go with the idea, especially during live performances.
In addition to his regular acoustic guitar, Bellue plays a harp guitar, which is a regular guitar body that has an added sound box and bass strings without frets.
"They date back hundreds of years, back to medieval lutes," Bellue says. "It was kind of a lost instrument until Michael Hedges picked one up in the '70s."
Bellue received his first harp guitar as an anonymous gift after the release of "Draw Inspiration." After four months on tour, he tracked down the luthier who built it, an American bluegrass musician located in Ukraine named Jay Buckey, for some repairs. Now, Bellue has a sponsorship from Buckey's company and wants to spread the word about the instrument.
"It's a really interesting instrument that I think more people should be open to the idea of playing," Bellue says.
Currently, Bellue is collaborating with Buckey on a signature harp guitar model and working on songs for a new EP, intended for release this winter.