Eric Johnson to perform at Vilar in Beaver Creek |

Eric Johnson to perform at Vilar in Beaver Creek

Kris Sabel
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/ Max Crace

Editor’s note: Director’s Corner is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundations, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed.

People sometimes call the fall months in the Vail Valley the “off season.” I want to be sure that you all know that’s not the case at the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC). Next week we host two incredible shows: Blues Traveler performs on Tuesday to benefit The Millenium Society (with proceeds going to local charities), and Grammy-winning guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson performs on Thursday.

Since the age of 16, Johnson has established himself as one of the most renowned rock guitar stylists of our day. His influences reach back to players like Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, and Eric Clapton. Known for the exceptional quality of his guitar tones, he is nicknamed by his peers “the tone ranger” or “baron von tone.”

Johnson’s burgeoning reputation in the late 1970s and early 1980s led to session work with the likes of Cat Stevens, Carole King and Christopher Cross. In fact, he played on Cross’ Grammy-sweeping, self-titled 1980 debut album.

Johnson’s status as a musician is confirmed by his peer reviews, with fellow greats such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn hailing him as one of the preeminent players of our generation. As Billy Gibbons (lead guitarist for ZZ Top) said “man, that guy can play!”

Johnson even has several guitar models created in his name. The long-awaited Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster guitar arose from Johnson’s wish to give something back to the collectors, players and fans who’ve supported him throughout his career. He was also honored by Martin Guitars with his own signature acoustic model.

Johnson last performed at the VPAC as part of his solo tour in 2004, showcasing his acoustic guitar and piano skills. This year he returns with an electric rock format, joined onstage by Tommy Taylor and Roscoe Beck. The show is underwritten by local businessman and part-time musician Bob Matthews, who is not only a fan of Johnson’s, but also a personal friend.

“What he can do with an electric guitar is mind-bending,” Matthews says. “When I listen to him I don’t know whether to throw in the towel because I can never achieve his level or work harder because I am so inspired.”

And the topper is this: tickets are only $25. This is an incredibly fair admission price to see an artist that Guitar Player Magazine calls “one of the most respected guitar virtuosos on the planet.”

I hope to see you at the VPAC.

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