Don Simpson, classical guitarist / Bio

I am a classical / finger-style guitarist who plays in several genres. I performed in master classes with internationally known classical guitarists Frederick Hand, David Russell, and Oscar Ghiglia. I attended workshops given by well known jazz guitarists Tommy Tedesco and Johnny Smith. I attended two extensive jazz seminars taught by the legendary Howard Roberts. Best description of my playing is, " Solo Instrumental Guitar". I like a lot of variety, so I am difficult to put in a box. I have a degree in Classical Guitar performance and I love classical music, but I have always liked many other styles of music as well. I still play some traditional classical guitar pieces by Tarrega, Sor, Tansman, etc. whatever I have time to keep up. I play my own cover arrangements of a lot of things. Those include some Beatles tunes, standards like Moon River and Twilight Time, some Broadway and movie themes. I play a lot of my own original compositions, which vary a lot in style from classical, to folk, to primitive Americana, to pieces with rock, jazz, and blues influences. I hate to sound like I repeat myself, so I try to mix it up when I compose. I have also played in church a lot over the years, so I have arranged quite a few hymns and contemporary Christian songs for solo guitar. Most have been used for offertories. I have also accompanied singers. I also play electric guitar and enjoy doing sessions. My electric guitar style is really a classic rock/ blues/ jazz fusion that leans heavily on melodic ideas more than speed and technical wizardry. I have never owned a guitar with a whammy bar, and I use a minimum of effects. My minimalistic, electric guitar playing style fits in well with modern Praise bands. I have been playing in Praise bands for about 15 years or so. My electric bass playing is very similar to my electric guitar playing and I read and write music pretty well.
I have done studio sessions, live radio several times, and played on more than a dozen cable TV shows. I have done lots of "pit" work in more than a couple of dozen Broadway type shows. I have performed at country clubs, restaurants, festivals, civic organizations, corporate events, benefit fund raising concerts, art shows and wedding receptions.
Just me and my guitar most of the time, but I have performed with singers, flute players, violin and viola players. My style of solo guitar playing draws from a wide variety of sources and influences and offers a unique mix of styles.
You can see some other things I do by going to www.stringconnectionmusic.com When not performing, I teach guitar. I have classical guitar students and electric guitar students. I love to teach music theory and concepts for improvisation. I have a lot of fun playing rock standards and blues with my students. I do luthier work on guitars and violins. That part of my work is what I call my day gig. I get to meet and talk to a lot of guitar players and orchestra teachers as I repair and restore their instruments.
Back to my guitar playing. This profile asks the question, "Who do you sound like?". That is really hard to answer, but I responded as I did for several reasons. Mason Williams was one of my first guitar heroes. Classical Gas is one of the most played instrumental songs of all time. I won a talent show in high school playing that piece. Even though I learned to play it more correctly several years later, it was well received. I listed Laurence Juber, not because I sound like him on guitar, (he plays steel and I play nylon), but because his style of composing is interesting to me. For the most part, he avoids guitar cliches and writes melodically. The music leads, not the well worn blues finger paths that most guitarists follow. I referenced Laurendo Almeida because he was another nylon string guitarist that played a lot of non-classical music. He was a staff guitarist for one of the big studio orchestras that did TV and movie recordings. He also arranged many standards for solo guitar. I have studied many of his arrangements to see how he solved harmonic problems on the guitar. I listed Chet Atkins because he was the first solo finger-style guitarist that I noticed. His depth of style and variety meant that you could always expect something new and different. He was a gentleman and a genius. I also mentioned Earl Klugh, mainly because he is another nylon string player that doesn't really play classical music. I would not attempt to make a direct comparison. He is way more into jazz, whereas I lean more towards pop. So do I sound like them? There are probably comparisons, but performing musicians like to think of themselves as unique. The moment you say "I sound like ,,,,,,,,,,, ", that makes you number two at best. I prefer to say not "Who do you sound like"?, but rather, "Who are your major influences?".
I hope this bio provided some insight into my music, and to myself as a performing guitarist.

General Info

Artist Name
Don Simpson, classical guitarist
Profile Page
Instrumental / Classical Guitar / Jazz Guitar / Rock Guitar / Contemporary Christian Praise Band

Contact Info

Arlington, TX
Bill Strebler

Similar Artists

  • Mason Williams
  • Laurence Juber
  • Laurendo Almeida
  • Chet Atkins
  • Earl Klugh