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Craig Chaquico Follows the Sun

When guitarist Craig Chaquico records a CD, you can expect a lot of moods in it. He says, I like the album to be sort of like a good movie or a good book that takes you on a journey that interests you so it touches your emotions. A good book or a good movie can have the action scenes in it, but it can't all be action. It's got to have the romance scene, it's got to have something that touches your emotions. No matter who we are, we don't even need to know each other, we all have these same emotions in common. Through music, which is kind of a universal language, you can touch those emotions. You can play a romantic song and see the people in the audience start to hold each other's hands. You can play an adventurous song and people get up on the edge of their chairs or play air guitar.

Chaquico says the music on his releases are like a personal diary of his life. He says, everybody can look over my shoulder and read, but also see something in themselves. We all have those romantic songs that I write about a particular person that is going to remind somebody else of their special person when they hear it.

Chaquico has released his first CD since 2004's Midnight Noon with Follow the Sun. The title comes from when the release was recorded. He says, we were recording it during the winter and looking ahead to the light at the end of the tunnel to the spring and the summer. To when things start warming up, to when school's out, to when vacations start. The theme was about looking for the brighter side of life to shine through. Life is light in shadow and at that time the shadow of a chilly economic environment and a chilly political environment led us to be optimistic and write an album that projected into the future when that stuff gets resolved and things start to warm up a little bit and get nicer.

Craig Chaquico believes music is not just an art, but a science as well. He says it's something between science and the spirit, between the angels and the arithmetic. There's a place in the middle that's music because it's mathematical and also magical. For "Follow the Sun," the title is mainly inspired not so much by astronomy, although there is a song on the album called "The Coast of Orion," which is about watching that gorgeous constellation Orion rising on one side above a lake. In my case, while I was camping out and watching a coast cross above the sky from horizon to horizon during the course of an evening, it was just a majestic waltz of the constellation that's inspiring. It's kind of a science fiction theme of the coast of Orion could also be like a spaceship. Instead of off a coast of a continent, it's off the coast of a constellation. It's a very spacy-trippy song. It's really kind of like a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" song.

Chaquico says the new CD is like reading a book because it has various chapters. He says, the first chapter is very energetic. The first song "Lua Da Mae" is Portuguese for mother moon. The reason that's emotional to me is my mom passed away during the recording of the album. January 9th was the largest full moon of 2009 and on the morning just before the sun came up, she passed peacefully and with all her loved ones around her. The full moon that night will always remind me of mom. It's not a sad song, it's a happy, festive Latin song. It really does have a Santana bite to it. She collected all these clippings and I think she was really proud of the fact that I played with Carlos Santana.

The second chapter of Craig Chaquico's Follow the Sun is another song that features Portugal and his mom. Chaquico says, "Azores Lisboa" is about the islands and the mainland of Portugal separated by the ocean. My mom's side is from the Azores and my dad's side is from the mainland in the Lisbon area. Somehow they got together and during World War II when dad did his service in the Navy, he was separated by the ocean again from my mom and they had a ritual where they would try to make it to the ocean when they could and touch the ocean knowing that even though they're separated, they are somehow connected to the ocean. When dad passed away on Valentine's Day 14 years ago, mom kept his ashes with her by her side so that when the time came, she wanted her ashes mixed with his on the ocean. When she passed in January, it was only a few weeks away from Valentine's Day. We saved her ashes with dad's and on Valentine's Day, we combined their ashes together at this place called Wedding Rock on the coast in California. Now I like to think that mom and dad are together again holding hands and dancing across the universe from seas to shining galaxies.

Chaquico takes on sax man Kenny G in a remake of his signature song Songbird. He says, I thought to myself here's this fantastic instrumental song done by this incredible instrumentalist, but no one ever redid it. Redoing a saxophone song on guitar was kind of my idea to give it a twist. A different spin along with the fact that I didn't just want to copy the song. I wanted to give it its own personality. I did it over a kind of almost a rap groove, but not like an intense rap, more like a seductive rap groove with those sorts of deep bass, drums and keyboard sounds. There's lots of stereo, too so it sounds really good in headphones or in your car. Take a classic Kenny G song on sax, redo it on guitar and sort of reinvent the rhythm section with something that's a little more current.

However, Craig Chaquico had some problems with the song. He says, I really underestimated the degree of difficulty of playing some of the stuff Kenny G played on saxophone on the guitar. It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. At first, I thought I would play it with a lot of flourishes of notes and a lot of fast riffs like he does a lot during the song. I realized when I did that on guitar, it didn't sound as good as when he did it on sax. I kind of changed my course a little bit and decided to concentrate more on his beautiful melodies that are also on that song and made that the body of the song. I threw in some fast licks here and there as a salute to him and his phenomenal playing. Had I done that all the way through the song on guitar, it would have been irritating. Hopefully when he hears it, he'll give it a thumbs up because anytime you redo a beautiful classic like that, you hope it will at least do it justice.

Follow the Sun is a CD that conveys what summer is all about. Craig Chaquico has a release that touches what the season means to many people, including himself and his family.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Craig Chaquico
  • Interview Date: 7/1/2009
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