Originally Published: October 7, 2016 6 a.m.
Anthony Mazzella may be the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.
He’s been at it for years, starting in New York City, where he played clubs in Manhattan, including CBGB’s, Birdland, and others.
Since then, he’s performed around the world and as opening act for James Brown, Tower of Power, the Commodores, and more.
Now the Sedona resident is staging “Legends of Guitar,” a tribute show unlike the usual ones, which he will perform at the Elks Theatre, Saturday, Oct. 15.
Mazzella said there are a few differences.
“It’s paying tribute to all the guitar greats, but I’m not dressing up like them or dancing like them,” he said.
He plays the hottest licks from songs as originally played by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Jimi Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), Pete Townsend (The Who), and David Gilmour (Pink Floyd).
“(The audience) has never heard these famous songs by these famous guitar players performed with this much originality,” Mazzella said. “I re-arrange the songs, and arrange the songs for solo guitar.”
That’s right – there’s no band on stage with him, and he doesn’t use recorded backing tracks.
Yet he holds the audience’s attention, even on stage alone.
And the audience?
“They love it, their jaws dropped. People tell me that watching the audience reaction is almost as fun as the concert,” he said.
His favorite parts of the show come when he does medleys, because he can’t get all the songs he loves into a show in the full form, so he puts together the best parts of, say, a group of Pink Floyd songs.
Once upon a time, he was working a guitarist playing “mostly original stuff,” but realized how much he missed the music created by “the guitar gods,” who first influence him.
“And I said, ‘Well, a lot of people like tribute bands, let me see if I can put a tribute show together.’ And I couldn’t put a show together about one guitar player—I love them all and studied them all.”
Instead, he decided to create this show, one that pays tribute to the musicians who he referred to as his “mentors.”
He calls it “a unique spin on tribute shows.”