Guitar finger-picker Charley Simmons plays Folk Music Center |

Guitar finger-picker Charley Simmons plays Folk Music Center

Staff Report

Carbondale Folk Music Center presents master guitar picker Charley Simmons, who will strut his stuff on-stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at Steve’s Guitars, 19 N. 4th St., Carbondale.

Shawn O’Neil opens for Simmons. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $10.

Simmons will also lead a fingerpicking workshop from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, also at Steve’s Guitars. Cost is $35.

Simmons started playing guitar at age 9, and by 16 was earning money traveling and performing. He began to develop his own finger picking solo style inspired by the late Gamble Rogers.

“He threw away his flat pick and now he can sound like two or three guitar players all by himself,” said Steve Standiford, owner of Steve’s Guitars. “His last performance at Steve’s Guitars blew the crowd away.

“Charley’s music is as diverse as his musical influences have been, drawing on folk, blues, bluegrass and jazz. He can captivate his audience with his articulate guitar playing and a voice which was once described as a combination of dry shag cut tobacco and honey,” Standiford said.

Born in 1950 and raised on a farm near Blackiston Crossroads, Del., Simmons’ early musical influences were Jimmy Rogers and Hank Williams. By 16 he was earning money playing around the state. He moved to St. Augustine, Fla., in 1971 and heard the music of Gamble Rogers, which led him to develop his own fingerpicking style.

“I used to watch Gamble perform at the Tradewinds and wondered how he made that guitar sound like there were two players on stage,” he said in his biography.

“So I threw away my flat pick and started to teach myself, with a lot of pointers from Gamble, how to play that style. I think it only took me two years before I’d perform past the bedroom door.”

Simmons was the 1992 Utah State Flattop Guitar Champion and the 2002 Wyoming State Finger Style Champion.

“If you’re a fan of fingerpicking blues you will really enjoy seeing Charley live and close up,” Standiford said. “He moves through furiously fast picking songs as well as laid back melancholy blues with effortless grace.

“He was described by one critic as a `red-hot fingerpickin extraordinaire.’ We don’t get many guitarists of this caliber in our humble room so if you’re a guitar fan, join us for another great night of live music,” Standiford said.

For information about the workshop call 963-3304 or just show up at the store on Saturday.

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