Didsbury artists revels in many facets of musical journey

Jake Peters prepping for afternoon at Central Music Festival

A brilliant and renowned guitarist, banjo wizard and mandolin virtuoso, Jake Peters brings his range of talents to the Central Music Festival near Red Deer next month. The Didsbury-based artist, who got an early start delving into his love for music, performs Aug. 13.

Peters is described as an ‘amazing teacher, an inspiring mentor, a singer/songwriter, an incredible musician and a gifted Luthier.’ He is also known as a ‘musician’s musician’ thanks to his extensive knowledge of musical theory and history as well as his knack for literally building the instruments he plays.

Music was indeed a key feature of the household during his growing up years, with his mom an accomplished fiddler/guitarist and banjo player in her own right. And for Peters, his interest in music wasn’t just confined to a single instrument. Pretty much anything with strings was compelling. He knew in his teens that music was going to be an integral part of what he did with his life.

Today, he plays regularly, he teaches and he also builds and of course keeps busy repairing guitars and mandolins as well. There’s not much within the musical spectrum that he isn’t happy to delve into.

“Being a builder of instruments helps me to be more in tune with how they play,” he explains during a recent chat. He started crafting them back in his teens when he took his banjo in to be fixed and came to the conclusion he could have done the work himself.

As to his musical output, his first project Journey was released in 2002 and is packed with beautifully-crafted acoustic gems, showcasing Peters’ extraordinary musicianship. Styles run the gamut from bluegrass, blues and Celtic to classical, folk, Gospel and Spanish. His second disc – The First Christmas – A Musical Journey was released in 2007.

Today, he’s well-known among professional musicians on both sides of the border. He’s worked with folks like Cindy Church, Dick Damron, Eli Barsi, Ben Crane, Pam Tillis, Lisa Brokop, Randy Travis and Randy Bachman.

But the most joy comes from those unexpected blessings, like what happened during a recent trip to Hawaii. He had taken a ukulele he had built at home on the trip. Ultimately, he made his way to a store which is owned by Jake Shimabukuro, who Peters describes as the greatest ukulele player in the world.

“His brother was working there that day, and asked me to build Jake a tenor ukulele. I was blown away.” Talk about a privilege. Peters will of course be hand-delivering the instrument to Shimabukuro himself later this year, and can hardly believe his good fortune.

Peters is also obviously thrilled with the prospect of meeting a man he admires so much, and to think of presenting him with one of his own ukuleles makes it that much more memorable.

Ultimately, performing his tunes on such a wide range of instruments provides him with some of his most joyful moments. Thanks to his upbringing, sharing his tunes with audiences has never presented too much of a concern to the easy-going artist. He finds meaning in watching how folks respond to what he offers.

“It’s really about what audiences take from the music, and how it grows from there.”

Meanwhile, excitement is building for the Central Music Festival which is described as a family-friendly event showcasing an array of musical artistry.

Genres run the gamut from rock to blues to country to inspirational, with acts including the Steve Arsenault Band and Charlie Jacobson on Friday evening; Don Swift, The Odds, the Amy Bishop Trio and Jonas & the Massive Attraction on Saturday and an inspirational workshop with The Larsgaard Family Bluegrass Band and Friends on Sunday.

Other Sunday performers include Micah Turchet and Back Porch Swing.

Wrapping things up on Sunday afternoon is a songwriters’ circle/acoustic jam at 3:15 p.m. Several other artists are set to perform as well throughout the event, which also includes a shuttle service from the Red Deer Lodge through the weekend.

Meanwhile, there are opportunities for sponsorship involvement and for volunteer help as well. Check out www.centralmusicfest.com for details and complete descriptions on all the artists set to perform.

Weekend passes are available for purchase at the web site as well.