WOW Word-Of-the-Week #425: Acoustic

September 26, 2012 by  

Acoustic – having to do with hearing or with sound.

Have you ever heard an acoustical guitar performance? Have you ever been in a building that was known for its great acoustics? Are you like me and know the word but didn’t know what it meant exactly?

Last week I wrote about taking my 94-year-old father to Anthology for his birthday. It is a very intimate 225 seat supper club in the Little Italy section of downtown San Diego. We went to see the Count Basie band. They are billed as a 19-piece orchestra. They filled the stage! Count Basie formed the band in 1936 and conducted it up until his death in 1984. Four of the current musicians that played are from the original band.

Several times during the show the band leader Dennis Mackrel said, “We are an acoustical band.”  I was puzzled by what he meant when he said that. I had heard of an acoustical guitar but had no idea what that meant.

Curiosity got the better of me so when I got home I looked it up. Like many words in the dictionary it has several meanings. With regard to being an acoustical band, that definition is – an instrument that does not produce or enhance sound electronically.

Anthology is a really special place. I love that I can sit at a table, have dinner and actually see the people on the stage. It only takes 20 minutes to get there and parking is easy. Another great place we have taken my dad is to Thorton Winery in Temecula. That’s more difficult now that he is getting older because it is so far. Both of these venues have spectacular sound equipment and lighting and the acoustics are fabulous. That definition means – designed to respond to, absorb, or control sound.

So this week I wish you an acoustical adventure. What kind of music would bring you the greatest pleasure? Who could you invite to share that experience with? Did you experience any Epicurean delights last week? If not, it’s not too late!

Reader Responses

“I have seen a few “acoustic” concert tours during my lifetime. One of the most surprising was that of the late Dan Fogelberg. We had tickets to see him perform at the Rockford Civic Center in Rockford, IL. When we purchased the tickets we were not aware that he would be performing a “solo acoustic” show. So, suffice it to say we were disappointed when he came out by himself, accompanied by a guitar and his piano. As her performed, we were impressed with his musicianship and enjoyed the songs with simply the spare accompaniment. It was an excellent experience. I was similarly impressed with James Taylor’s “One Man Band” tour, where he played his songs as they were originally meant to be played; however, he was accompanied by a pianist, Larry Goldings, who was excellent. Several years ago, some of the biggest names in the business decided to re-record their songs and perform them, unplugged. Which is another name used for these type of acoustical tours. We don’t see or hear much of the unplugged business anymore, so it has probably run its course. The acoustic element really makes us LISTEN. I think that is the most important aspect. We focus more on the melody, the tune, the words, than the volume of the supporting instruments and amplifiers. It strips away everything but the essential music. That is what makes it great. Back in 1980, I saw Earl Klugh and Bob James, the jazz guitarist and pianist, respectively, at the Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee. Now, while they had backing musicians that night, including the great Harvey Mason on drums, listening to how the gently plucked notes from Klugh’s guitar and the soft chords of James’s electric piano, really filled the auditorium. You could hear a pin drop. It remains one of the best concerts I have ever seen. The woman who attended the show, sat mesmerized by the percussionist, Dr. Gibbs, as he occupied a corner of the stage with all of his various chimes, bongos, bells and whistles. It was that memorable of a show. So, actually listening and taking in the beauty of all of those elements, is what makes acoustic so important in our lives. If we would carry that over to our day-to-day lives, we would probably have a much better world. Great word, Susan. Have a great weekend.” – “Warrior” Joe