In the spring of ‘93 when Lee Ritenour’s CD, Wes Bound, came out, WBRH was giving a lot of airplay to “A Little Bumpin’” — it was my first exposure to the work of a man that had been playing since he was eight years old. I’ve been a fan ever since. I caught up with him last Sunday by phone at his home in Los Angeles. We shared a few laughs and talked a lot about music, the wealth of talented guitar players on the scene today, the instrument they all love, and of course, his latest project, 6 String Theory.
6 String Theory — tell us about it, inception, planning, organizing.
2010 is the 50th anniversary of when I began playing guitar. I started when I was eight years old. So I wanted to do something to celebrate not only my years of playing, but the instrument itself — the guitar. I thought, six strings, six styles and six categories of guitar playing.
I love so many different kinds of guitar playing and always have since I was a kid. I love the jazz guitar playing, blues, classical, country. I don’t really have any prejudices when it comes to music — just that it’s done well and certainly played well on the guitar. On the Six String project, we could have had a couple of other genres, I was trying to get one of the flamenco guys. We could have covered some of the more serious sides of country and bluegrass better, but it finally came down to locations, budget, how many cuts we could get on the record and how many people I could hire.
The other thing that played an important part was the technology. Over the last few years an incredible number of guitarists, amateurs, were just putting up their videos, from all over the world. I thought how great it would be, if I could get all these guitar players together and cover the six styles and six categories of guitar playing on one record. So I had a contest. Everyone from rock, jazz, blues, classical joined us — it was an international competition through YouTube videos. Have a winner, give them some prizes and have them perform on the record.
So we were able to do that and we actually ended up awarding the winner, a sixteen year old, Shon Boublil, a classical player from Montreal, Canada, a chance to play on the record and a four year scholarship to to Berklee College of Music. He starts in September. Yamaha gave him a guitar and Monster Cable did the same. It was really fantastic.