Johannes Linstead

Flamenco Jazz

Johannes Linstead (also known as Sevara) is an award-winning Canadian guitarist and instrumentalist known for fusing Spanish-style guitar with Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern, and Latin American percussion and instrumentation. Four of his albums have hit the Billboard charts and his home country declared him the “Guitarist of the Year” in 2007.

Sound Observations: Johannes Linstead

by David Moye

Canada might not seem a natural place for a guitarist well-versed in Caribbean and Spanish styles of guitar, but, for musician Johannes Linstead, who plays at Anthology in San Diego on Sunday, Oct. 3, it’s working out “aboot” right.

“It actually came quite naturally,” Linstead said. “As a kid, my parents took us on vacations down south to the Caribbean – where my dad once lived, and my mother taught Latin dance.

“There’s just something about the area. It’s so vibrant and warm. There are palm trees, the ocean and no ice.”

Which begs the question: Why does Linstead, who has won numerous “Guitarist of the Year” honors, had six “Best Album” awards, and four top-ten Billboard charting albums, still live in Toronto?

“Toronto is a good hub,” he said. “There are musicians from all over the world there so I’ve been able to play with people from Russia and the Middle East to South America. Plus, the summers are perfect. In fact, today in San Diego was just like Toronto all summer.”

Really? Today was like San Diego all winter.

“Ahhhhh,” he laughs. “Why’d you have to tell me that?”

Back to how a Canadian can do be a master at classical, flamenco and other international guitar styles.

The way Linstead sees it, the fact that he’s NOT from where those styles originated actually makes it more valuable to him and therefore more passionate about it than he might be had he grown up with it.

“It’s like this: If you grow up eating Indian, you might not think it’s special, but if all you eat is a North American diet, when you try Indian food, it’s amazing!” he said.

Linstead started out playing classical before branching out into Spanish guitar and the other styles. Learning flamenco guitar, he says, is more than just strumming the strings.

“I don’t consider myself a flamenco guitarist, but the style has so many rhythms and forms of singing and dancing that it evolved holistically,” he said. “In order to do the dancing, singing or playing, you have to know something about all of them.”

Linstead’s Anthology show will feature his core group of musicians, but he enjoys with working with musicians of all types. Although there have been times when the musicians and him didn’t speak the same language verbally, that turned out to be an advantage some ways.

“When I was working with some Cuban musicians, I had to work on my Spanish,” he said. “I had a violinist from the Ukraine, and we had to communicate musically. In some ways, I liked it better. We get so used to using words, but some words are truth and others are lies.

Linstead loves music so much that he’s hoping to spread it to the folks that attend Sunday’s show. Yamaha recently became his sponsor and he will be giving away a Yamaha NTX900 Acoustic Electric guitar at the show.

He has high hopes for the guitar – and the winner.

“I hope that one day the guitar gets auctioned off for $500,000,” he laughed. “Actually, I hope that it goes to someone who is interested in becoming a guitarist and has a great love for that instrument.”

THU 10/13, 9:30pm click to purchase tickets

$10 – $19
click to purchase tickets

“one of Canada’s top guitarists”

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