Jeffrey Bianchi tried playing in jazz combos; he even made a living as an electric guitarist touring with country groups. But he started to find his niche when he stripped it all down.
He plays classical guitar. It's just him and an acoustic guitar on stage and the music that's been around for centuries.
"It's just a really beautiful sounding instrument. The music is just fantastic," he said. "I like the fact that it was just you and a guitar. It's very one on one. You and the performer."
Bianchi will play classical styles, including Catalan folk melodies and Renaissance lute pieces, Aug. 24 at ARTworks in Beaufort.
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Bianchi was raised in upstate New York, picking up the acoustic guitar at age 12. He started off studying jazz in college but switched once he discovered classic pieces for the guitar. Professionally, he has taken several diversions from classical guitar. He toured with two country acts, Young Guns in 2005, followed by some time with the Chace Roberts Band. He never considered himself a country musician, but it gave him a chance to make a living as a professional guitarist.
"That really opened up the doors," he said. "It was a very good experience. I learned a lot about touring effectively."
He found more work in tribute bands, playing classic rock, R&B, alternative and pop. He can break out "Purple Haze" or "Born to be Wild" at a moment's notice.
By 2009, he was striking out on his own as a classical guitarist. Living just outside Atlanta, he started touring across the South. The following year, he was traveling across the country as a solo act. Since March, he's focused solely on the classical guitar.
Although the classical music might not be as recognizable as the classic rock he can play, he finds audiences receptive. All he asks is to just give it a chance.
"It's a very universal instrument," he said. "Once they've heard it, I've yet to meet a person who doesn't like it."