When guitarist Kaki King sits behind her unique instrument, she gladly takes a back seat to the stories it can tell.
The U.S.-based musician will be in Sidney at the Mary Winspear Centre on June 7, bringing her The Neck Is A Bridge To the Body show to its only Vancouver Island stop. The solo instrumentalist is combining music and pictures in something a lot more than just a girl with a guitar, alone on the stage.
“I’m really helping the guitar tell its story,” King said in an interview this week.
Her show takes a custom guitar, designed by King, and used projection mapping to cast pictures and textures on its surface, representing a musical journey through life and death.
For King, who picked up a guitar at age four and through dedication and hard work became a recognized virtuoso, her relationship with the instrument is always evolving. She said she would not describe herself as a master, as guitarists are always striving to learn something new and to improve.
“It took a long time for me to understand the relationship I have with the guitar,” she said. “It’s an instrument you never stop playing.”
With The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body, King said she collaborated with Glowing Pictures to compose and combine music with images and patterns, projected upon the guitar, to tell a story.
She said the hard part was translating her idea into reality, by using light and software.
“I started off really flying blind. I had no idea if it would work and then I didn’t realize how much I would tour with it. It has been a great experiment.”
Throughout the production of the show, King said the sound would often change as they worked to get the images to flow with the music she had written.
The show, she continued, garners all sorts of responses from audiences and she said it’s probably the only show of its kind in the world.
“It’s not exactly a piece of theatre, but it’s not your normal solo music performance.”
In it, King’s guitar takes centre stage. And even after 30-plus years of playing, she said she’s comfortable taking a back seat to the guitar.
“I think I always have been,” she said. “It’s all about examining the relationship I have with the guitar.”
King said her show has become part of her own story as a musician. She said she has spent most of her life wrangling with a guitar, trying to make it do what she wants it to, and having it fight back.
Having had plenty of success with The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body, King said she hopes to take it to another level.
“It needs a round two,” she said. “It’s gotten that compelling.”
Kaki King’s performance is Tuesday, June 7 at the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney. It’s her only Island stop as her tour takes her to Vancouver, Portland, and Los Angeles this month.
For tickets, call the Mary Winspear Centre box office at 250-656-0275.
For more about the performance, visit kakiking.com.