Acoustic guitarist Michael Gulezian is returning to Moab for an Aug. 25 performance at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. [Photo courtesy of Timbreline Music]

Acoustic guitar virtuoso Michael Gulezian says he never knows what he’s going to play until he’s with his audience and can get a feeling for the set they’re meant to hear. That doesn’t stop him from visualizing the perfect concert, however.

“I would love people to sit on comfy couches and pillows, and proceed to do a four-hour-long, trance-inducing performance,” he said.

The Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North, will be equipped with chairs for Gulezian’s performance on Friday, Aug. 25, but the audience can expect a transporting evening nonetheless, according to local musician Scott Ibex. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 8 p.m.; the requested donation for admission is $15 to support the artist’s travel and housing.

Two years ago, Ibex felt he was at a comfortable point in his musical career in Moab to reach out to Gulezian, one of his greatest influences, with a request to perform here. Gulezian was familiar with the area, having performed at private concerts here previously and experienced the breathtaking beauty of the Colorado River and its cliffs and canyons. He happily accepted, and the concert was a success.

“It was a thrill to meet a musical influence at his virtuoso level,” Ibex said. “He really just lives and breathes his art. It’s astounding to me that he’s a big fan of my art, as well.”

Today, Gulezian is transitioning to a new phase of life, and returning to Moab in concert is in some ways about celebrating his proximity to a landscape that brings him inspiration. He spoke to the Moab Sun News from a mountain peak just outside Paonia, Colorado.

Describing the view, he said, “Everything is illuminated in this magic light that makes it seem like everything is alive – the rocks, the trees, the shadows.”

Recognizing the futility of describing his music in words, he repeated the quote typically attributed to Elvis Costello: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” However, it is possible to say that his artistic style exudes the feeling of vistas like the one before him, he said.

“I don’t know how any human can experience the land here and not come away with a soul brimming to express,” he said. “It’s everything – not just the landscapes, but the people are different out West, too. You wind up loving people here more, and that inspires a lot of the music, as well. I just surrender to it.”

He is wrapping up work on his latest album – the best work of his life, he said – and said that since his recent move to Paonia, it has become even stronger and more beautiful.

Garrison Keillor once commented, “If I could play guitar the way Michael Gulezian does, I would just sit in front of a mirror and watch myself do it.”

In the practical world of the music business, however, Gulezian works diligently to support himself as an independent musician. After more than a decade of success with a major label in Nashville, today he works under his own record label, Timbreline Music. The work is constant and he bears the risks, he said, but the artistic freedom it affords is worthwhile.

Ibex credits the MARC with making it possible for the Moab community to experience the music of self-supported artists like himself and Gulezian. Because the by-donation concert reflects the community art center’s mission to inspire creativity in the community, the fee to rent the space presents little burden and the artists can focus on presenting spectacular music to whatever size audience chooses to attend without fretting over ticket sales, Ibex said.

Both artists have become well-known in Moab through local radio station KZMU, and Ibex hopes their fans will turn out.

“It’s important to do these live shows in a theater setting,” Ibex said. “It’s ultimately a way to take people’s breath away without screens. Experiencing the beauty of musical expression in front of the artist, in the theater, is an important thing.”

Musician returns to Moab to give, receive inspiration

“I don’t know how any human can experience the land here and not come away with a soul brimming to express.”

When: Friday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m.

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: Requested donation of $15


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