Curtis, a guitar player’s guitar player, brings his instrumentals to Borders in Thousand Oaks.
By BILL LOCEY, Special to The Times
If you’ve reached the point where you’re known by one name and you’re not a dog or a cat, then you’ve arrived. Consider Godzilla. Madonna. Liberace.
Hoping to add his name to these elite believers in the value of brevity is guitar player Curtis, who will be trying to pick his way into your heart during a concert tonight at Borders Books & Music in Thousand Oaks.
By day, Curtis is Curtis Fornadley, a working man punching keys on a computer; by night, he’s a terrific guitar player–a guitar player’s guitar player, even. Curtis has a recent album, not surprisingly named after himself, which features a number of acoustic instrumentals, plus two tunes with vocals. He’d love to sell a few copies at this Borders gig, and a percentage of the profits will be donated to cancer-related charities. In the interim, Curtis discussed the latest concerning his favorite guitar player:
What’s the story on this Thousand Oaks gig?
The T.O. Borders is really a good place to play for me. They have a whole stage and lounges, and it just works out really well. People actually come to sit around and see the show.
How did you end up playing guitar rather than the tuba, the accordion or some other instrument?
My parents had an old guitar that they had bought in Tijuana before I was born. It was made out of green wood, so it wasn’t as strong as it should be. I dropped it and broke it several times, but my dad patched it up with Elmer’s Glue-All. I learned classical music and KISS songs on it. I played that guitar for two years, and then I got a Les Paul for Christmas.
Who do you think is a good guitar player?
From the old school, I’ve always admired Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. From the new school, there’s Eric Johnson–he has it.
Do you remember your first gig?
Sure. I played in the eighth-grade talent show. . . . I always liked having an audience. I’ve never been one to sit in my room and play alone. I’ve been in rock bands in L.A. going for that gold ring and all that, but my focus has always been on the instrument, and not on the chicks or fame.
Is this your only gig?
I have a day job doing Internet stuff for UCLA. I probably play solo two or three times a month, and I also play with a cover band, maybe a show a month. At Borders, it will be all instrumental.
What do you think Curtis music sounds like?
Well, I try to make people feel something when I create something for them to hear. Instrumental music is a challenge, because you have to carry a feeling with a melody. I want people to feel something, be it melancholy, thoughtful or happy. I have about two hours of originals.
Besides the obvious fact of getting to keep all the dough at the end of the night, what’s the difference between playing solo or with a band?
It’s more mobile this way. It’s also a lot more challenging. I have to take band arrangements and make them interesting as a soloist. On the other hand, there’s the interaction of the other players, and that energy can be very inspiring.
What’s “the plan” for Curtis?
One of the things I’m starting to get into is a synergy, a scene for instrumental music. I’m starting to organize all-guitar nights or all-instrumental nights with a lot of different players. And I recently appeared on a compilation album.
Why are you a one-name rock star?
My last name is hard to pronounce, and it’s frequently misspelled. It’s just one of those names, I guess.