by Michael Reshetnik When you hear a fine Gaelic singer, or a great piper or fiddler, you know that their music comes straight from the heart, that they embody and express the soul of a rich and deep tradition. Tony McManus is one of this sort. With his twin obsessions of guitar and traditional music he gives voice to a full range of emotion and very precise nuance of expression. The fact that Tony is one of the top technicians in the world on his instrument is only half the story, though that would be more than enough for lots of folks. He is a guitarist’s guitarist, and people who have little to do with Celtic music or culture look up to him as a master who opens up new territory. He’s also a very warm and funny guy. McManus began his career in his native Scotland, recording with a huge list of respected musicians and touring with multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Brian MacNeill. A tour with MacNeill brought him to Colorado in 1997, and since then he has toured solo, also with Andy Irvine’s “Mozaik” , a guitar grouping called “Men of Steel” (with Beppe Gambetta, Dan Crary and Don Ross) and Irish and Scottish musical luminaries too numerous to mention. He teaches at guitar camps and Celtic music camps in the summers, including a Colorado visit to Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp in 2006. Tony has produced and recorded 5 CDs of his own music, and produced numerous recordings of other Scottish and Irish artists. The latest is called “The Maker’s Mark,” consisting entirely of his solo playing (except for the track where he overdubs 15 instruments!) The CD is a collection of soulful and exuberant tunes and a celebration of the current “golden age” of guitar-making, featuring 14 contemporary hand made instruments provided for the recording session by Paul Heumiller of Dream Guitars (Asheville, NC.) In fact, it probably wouldn’t matter what guitar you put in his hands–there would be beautiful music–but these are exceptionally well-crafted specimens. So, whether you’re a guitar nerd, a lover of Celtic music, or just someone who enjoys having their heart touched by way of the ears, you’ll want to be at Swallow Hill, Friday, August 14, for a rare concert.

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