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Guitar virtuoso covers '60s hits

UNM's Michael Chapdelaine transforms classics

Although rooted in the complexities of classical guitar, Michael Chapdelaine revisits his high school rock band days with the release of his new album, Replay.

Chapdelaine, a guitar professor at UNM who has toured the nation as a soloist, remembers a time when music was a "haven of simple joy," before it became a "proving ground for excellence."

Replay, the seventh studio release for Chapdelaine, is a cover compilation of 16 songs from the '60s and '70s.

"Here are 16 songs that I loved dearly during a very powerful and beautiful part of my life," Chapdelaine states in the liner notes of the album jacket. "I love these tunes still, and can't begin to express the pleasure that I get from playing them."

The tunes, performed on both steel-string and classical guitars, include such classics as the Beatles' "Come Together," John Lennon's "Imagine" and Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun."

Though all cover songs, the material of Replay demonstrates how Chapdelaine takes his role of arranger to the level of composer and how an artist with his talent can make any classic his own opus.

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Instead of whole rock bands pounding out these classics, Chapdelaine has worked them into solo arrangements without compromising the melodies and their complexities. And in some ways, they sound more orchestrated than the originals.

Chapdelaine pulls his classic stunt of sounding like more than one guy in this album by calling upon his amazing percussion and counterpoint abilities with the classical guitar. Once again we are left asking, "How does he do that?"

I am afraid we may never know, for Chapdelaine is a rare personality. In 1986, one year after Chapdelaine landed at UNM, he began studying with virtuoso Andres Segovia and is the only musician to win first prize at both the National Fingerpicking Championship and the Guitar Foundation of America International Guitar Competition.

His solo style has covered all the territory from blues to Bach, and he admits that these latest popular recordings were more difficult than classical music ever was.

"A saner musician might say, `just get a band,'" Chapdelaine notes. "But after 25 years of being a classical guitarist, I am addicted to the high-wire act."

The album cover also includes a startling photograph of Chapdelaine in his high school rock band days.

Replay, along with five other releases, including Land of Enchantment, can be purchased online at

Chapdelaine also will hold a musician's clinic at Grandma's Music and Sound, 800 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Saturday at 2 p.m. For more information, call 292-0341.

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