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Joe Chawki - The Golden Touch

Joe Chawki is no ordinary guitar player. Aside from stringing his guitar backwards, he can capture your interest and suck you into his musical world with nothing more than a cell phone video of his playing. At times he reminds me of Shawn Lane, but also has his own voice and sound. He just released his first album called Nazar, an eclectic mix of guitar instrumental compositions with plenty of jaw-dropping moments and hooky melodies. Check out our interview with the great Joe Chawki!

1. Joe, no doubt you are a great improviser. What advice would you give a beginning guitarist that wants to become a great improviser?

Joe: Have the fundamentals underneath your belt, and listen to a wide range of music. Technique and theory are like two wings of a bird. Both are needed in order for you to fly. Have something to say. Don't be aimless. Avoid filler and repeating your favorite patterns. Be musical. Sing your lines... hear them and see them connect. Be confident, sound confident.

2. You just released your debut release, Nazar. Tell us about how it came to fruition.

Joe: Many of the ideas were pieces I had laying around for years. Also I should mention producer Haxhi Gjonbalaj played an integral role in Nazar coming to light, and I do consider it a collaborative effort.

3. Could you tell us a little about how you approach composition?

Joe: It may happen in a few different ways. Perhaps some little riff or idea becomes something much larger. Maybe a life experience influences me. Typically I like to have a main theme or motif with quite a bit of room left for improvisation or stretching out.

4. Could you highlight a few of your favorite moments during the creation of Nazar?

Joe: Firstly, deciding that Haxhi and I were going to release this. That feeling you get knowing a "take" was good. Dropping a few singles on YouTube for the public and receiving positive responses. And finally, knowing that we were finally wrapping it up! All very exciting yet simultaneously emotionally taxing.

5. You are also an accomplished teacher. What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Joe: Demystification. Being able to simplify complex information for the student. Watching them absorb or understand what I am trying to convey. The question and answer format. There is a benefit to teaching privately that DVD or books can't exactly replicate...which is real time communication.

6. How can students take lessons from you? Do you accept all levels of students? Is there a screening process?

Joe: I teach privately out of the house as well as Skype lessons. I also recorded a lesson series for JamPlay.com that should be surfacing soon. For the most part beginner to advanced. I ask the student what goals they have in mind. What their strengths and weaknesses are. What type of music they listen to. Who their favorite players are. I assume any good teacher would ask the student these questions and then some.

7. Who are some of your musical influences?

Joe: I listen to a lot of different stuff. Various types of eastern music to metal to rap to electronica to jazz to fusion to jam band and psychedelic to basically anything that I think is well done. In terms of guitar playing and musical vision, Shawn Lane and John McLaughlin were big influences.

8. Will you be doing any touring or clinics in the near future?

Joe: I'd love to. Looking to get a live group going ASAP. Looking for bassists drummers and synth players to work with. Been thinking of doing some clinics at some local stores in Jersey.

9. What does the future hold for Joe Chawki?

Joe: I'll have to consult my crystal ball.

For more information on Joe Chawki visit his official Website