When guitarist Muriel Anderson performs at shows close to her Nashville home, audiences get something a little extra special.
“The good thing about playing in Tennessee is I can bring my best instruments,” says Anderson.
There’s another good thing when Anderson performs at the Palace Theater in Maryville Saturday, though: She’s making baklava for the entire audience.
Anderson, a known virtuoso on guitar, is also an enthusiastic cook.
“I enjoy all different types of cooking,” says Anderson, “but with baklava, I’ve found a way to make it using local honey. ... This will be the first concert in my history that I’ve cooked for my entire audience.”
In 1989, Anderson became the first female winner of the National Fingerstyle Guitar Picking Championship in Winfield, Kan. She has gone one to become one of the most respected guitarists in the country. She’s also one of the rare performers to master the harp guitar. Her All Star Guitar Night draws guitarists of equal acclaim and even greater legend.
Anderson began playing guitar at age 10 while growing up in Downer’s Grove, Ill., after grabbing a guitar that a friend of the family was throwing a away. She restrung the guitar, began picking out tunes and taking lessons from a local folk guitar teacher. She studied jazz guitar in high school and went to DePaul University in Chicago, where she studied classical guitar. She also took master classes from famed guitarist Christopher Parkening, who taught her much about tone and phrasing. In 1996, she relocated to Nashville, where she met and played with Chet Atkins.
While Anderson is regularly referred to as a classical guitarist and plays a classical guitar, she has never limited herself to any specific style. She regularly plays Beatles tunes and recently added a version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” (which she heard in a version by guitarist Pete Huttlinger) that features Anderson playing all the band parts on guitar.
“I’ve embraced different types of music at different times,” says Anderson. “For a while I was mostly into bluegrass and then it was Segovia and Christopher Parkening and Spanish guitar. ... Then I was touring with Tierra Negra, playing gypsy flamenco. ... In my shows I like to make it about the joy of music and music has no boundaries.”
Anderson writes most of the music she plays and, again, she is not worried about sticking to a style.
“I just let the music come out as it will. Sometimes the music comes out entirely in a dream and I don’t have to do anything. They come fully constructed and I just have to write them down.”
That was the case with the song “Baker’s Dozen.”
“I’d written the whole piece before I realized it was written in 13/8 time. It was inspired by Greek and Bulgarian music, more specifically, by Greek food. I wrote it after eating all this wonderful food at a Greek festival.”
Anderson is working on a new album that will feature one disc of wake-up songs and another disc of music to fall asleep to. Tommy Emmanuel, Victor Wooten, Danny Gottlieb, Stanley Jordan and Mark Kibble of Take 6 will all appear on the disc.
She says that at some level of musicianship musicians can simply come together on a tune and not have to think too much about it. But on the other hand, Anderson misses the feeling of challenge.
She could fix the broken string on her harp guitar, but she’s having too much fun coming up with ways to play around it.
“The challenge gave me new ideas,” she says.
Anderson says she sometimes plays the fiddle at fiddle get-togethers, but not because she’s good at it.
“I’m trying to recapture that joy of learning an instrument,” she says. “The one thing I’ve done is keep the love of music alive.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Palace Theatre, 113 W. Broadway, Maryville
Tickets: $18. advance, $20, at the door, available at www.palacetheater.com. Anderson Facebook friends get a discount on each ticket.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!