Click photo to enlarge

Returning to the Arcata Playhouse on Monday night, the 100 percent acoustic Gonzalo Bergara Quartet will take on gypsy jazz with a hint of the blues with their recently added violinist. As a guitarist, Bergara can be simply described as a virtuoso.

After moving to Los Angeles from Buenos Aires in 2004, the guitarist put an acoustic trio together and began playing small shows on the side while making most of his living playing the electric blues.

”I really had no intention of taking this other band seriously,” Bergara said. “As time went by band members changed and I dared to record my first CD 'Porteña Soledad' in 2008. It really ended up being more successful than I'd thought it'd be.”

The success of “Porteña Soledad” led the guitarist to add another member and make his band a quartet. The group's latest addition is violinist Leah Zeger who can be heard on their newest LP “Walking Home.”

While elements of gypsy jazz will always remain a centerpiece of the quartet's work, Bergara's past experience with the blues is clearly evident on “Walking Home.”

”The original concept of 'Walking Home' was, in fact, a walk home going by all the places in music that affected my own music,” he said. “Blues was my first love and still owns a big part of my heart. I first moved to America wanting to be a blues musician, and I figured if I wanted to learn how to play blues I should probably move to the land where this art was born.


Advertisement

As for the gypsy-jazz, that inspiration can be traced to the late pioneering Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

”He will always be there to remind me that I need to be a better guitarist, few people have (had) such an impact on my life,” Bergara said.

He also cites the late Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla as well as late legendary Texas electric-blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan as inspirations.

A hard-working musician trying to make just enough to be able to pay his fellow musicians what they deserve, the guitarist said he feels lucky to be surrounded by his supporting cast: Zeger, Jeffrey Radaich (rhythm guitar) and Brian Netlzey (upright bass).

”We're all good friends in the quartet and that's why this works,” he said. “I've been very lucky finding people that are here to give all they got and ask for nothing back, knowing that little by little all is paying off.”

After their October tour the quartet plans to play in Paris and Buenos Aires.

”The Arcata Playhouse has the kindest and warmest people,” Bergara said. “As a crowd and people working at the theater as well.”

If you go

What: Gonzalo Bergara Quartet

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Arcata Playhouse, 1251 Ninth St.

Admission: $15, all ages