Few can mesmerize audiences via the exquisite Latin-style guitar playing quite like Calgary-based musician Oscar Lopez.
The acclaimed artist heads to the City Feb. 22nd for a show at the Elks Lodge.
Presented by the Central Music Festival Society and also featuring guest Shaye Zadravec, the music kicks off at 8 p.m. sharp.
At 65, Lopez is still going as strong as ever and he’s as passionate about his artistry as he was as a young man initially carving out his own unique musical niche.
“It’s my soul, my heart – everything I have,” he explained during a recent interview.
Lopez, whose latest disc is Apasionado, has enjoyed a stellar career landing multiple Juno Awards via his slick guitar grooves that make him an absolute stand-out on the world stage.
The tunes bubble over with style and sophistication, from the gentle country-tinged disc opener Ayer and Road to the Blue House to the tender and contemplative Tears. Breaking Through the Clouds follows a similar vein, exuding an almost dream-like quality. Of course, these pieces are instrumental, but that doesn’t mean they don’t tell ‘stories’.
For Lopez, who was born in Santiago, Chile, a passion for music was sparked early on.
“My roots are here but all that I am I owe to my mother country; she has made me who I am today.”
He describes his journey into music as something of a process. And yet, it wasn’t really a choice, he added.
As a youngster, he recalls being more interested in playing soccer. But he recalls his dad taking him to the local Pentecostal church.
“There was a choir there, and they would play music with all types of instruments,” he recalled. “I remember this little man who was playing the fiddle.”
Lopez was interested and one day his dad bought him a fiddle.
“I grabbed the thing, I put it in the right position and I started making noise – it sounded like a cat,” he added with a laugh. “But it’s amazing how things happen – it was meant to be.”
The fiddle didn’t prove to be his instrument of destiny. Next up was the mandolin. Then the bass.
But he would ultimately choose the nylon-string guitar as his ‘soul’ instrument.
“It was just a part of me. I just kept playing and playing and I never thought I would be doing it (for work). I needed a ‘real’ job.”
Lopez relocated to Canada in 1979 first to Winnipeg and later settling in Calgary in 1981.
The whole time he was working tirelessly to both master the guitar and launch his own career. To date, he has released about a dozen albums.
“It’s everything. It’s happiness, it’s sadness and pain,” he added of his journey as a musician. “Everything is part of the music that I make.
“Everything I’m doing is meant to be and everything that happens in my life has been for a reason,” he said. “(Earlier on) I didn’t understand it, but now I do – now that I’m older and I suppose a little wiser!”
Ever the collaborator, Lopez also injects jazz, blues, roots and pop sensibilities into his music.
His friendship with singer/songwriter James Keelaghan also resulted in two fusion recordings as Compadres. They have performed scores of shows at festivals and on stages around the world.
These days, he’s got a vision for a new project but he isn’t pinning down any precise date for a release.
“I think it’s time for me to do it but I don’t want do it just because people want something new from me,” he explained. “I’m going to do it because I feel in my heart that the songs need to go out there.
“But something will come out – trust me.”
That’s not to say he’s lost any love for performing.
He describes music and performing as his ‘food and water’ – essential ingredients to survive and thrive. “It’s how I get my emotions out – it’s no option for me.
“I have that passion that will never leave me.”
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.