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Walter Rodrigues Jr Interview

The highest compliment you can pay a guitarist is not to call him a good guitarist, but a good musician.

Nine questions with an amazing musician who happens to play the guitar (and bass and keyboard and percussion and flute and whatever else he wants...)

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Early life, family, how you first developed an interest in playing music?

I was born into a family of musicians. My mother was a pianist, and my father a multi-talented minister who also played several instruments. Growing up in my dad’s church, I was constantly exposed to music and started playing the guitar at the age of 5. Playing in church helped me to quickly develop my harmonic ears. I remember, at a very young age, having to accompany many brothers and sisters from church singing all types of gospel songs and hymns in every possible key. I was put on the hot seat very early in life, and that was a big blessing.
My passion for Jazz came alive when I was around 7 years old and had the great fortune of meeting the great Alberto Borges de Barros, known as “Betinho.” He was one of the few Jazz guitar players in Brazil at that time. He introduced me to Jazz and became my guitar mentor for many years. 

Who are your musical influences?

There are so many musicians who have influenced me along the way, but here are a few: Helio Delmiro, Toninho Horta, Bill Evans, Pat Metheny and Joe Pass.

I'm totally obsessed with Brazilian music. If you could pick one Brazilian artist (past or present) to cut a track with, who would it be?

Djavan

Five albums. What are they?

That's a tough one, but here are five albums that I always loved and still learn something new whenever I listen to them:
1. Doo-Be-Doo-Wop-Bop – Take 6
2. Leny Andrade – Leny Andrade
3. Voz, Violao e Algo Mais – Joao Alexandre
4. Secret Story – Pat Metheny
5. Nicky's Rose – Peter Sprague

Away from music, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I love spending quality time with my family. I often tell people that I'm surrounded by women, and that's my wife, my two daughters, my mom and my two sisters. I can say that I'm one lucky spoiled man. I also enjoy studying the Bible and sharing about God's love

The Elis Regina CD box sets (Anos 60, 70 and I think there's an Anos 80) are selling for like $200+ each here in the US. Can you look around and see if they're cheaper down there? We just can't afford that.

I'm gonna have you save at least 50% on that one and I won't even charge you a commission!  They sell the box sets in Brazil for about R$200 Reais, when converted to American dollars it turns out to be around $90. Too bad I left Brazil in the late 80's, otherwise I would certainly start a CD export business down there.

Your multitrack of "Smile Here She Is" is extremely well done. When did you start recording?

I recorded that video in June of 2013. It was a one-man operation, a lot of work but also a lot of fun doing it. I did the whole thing in 1 day, except for the video editing, which was done by a cousin of mine later on. The idea of putting together a multitrack video was to re-create the original recording of the song which is on my first album entitled Beyond Words. 

Mind going a guitar/gear rundown of your preferred instruments, strings, amps, etc? Also, what recording gear you use?

For solo live performance I currently use two guitars: a Godin Multiac Grand Concert SA with D'Addario Hard Tension Nylon Strings, and a Martin Custom X Series with D'Addario Phosphor Bronze Light Gauge .011-0.52.
I don't use amps. My preferred way to get my sound is to run both guitars (nylon and steel) through a Radial Pre-z (Preamp/Direct Box), and from there, straight to the house PA. I also use a pair of QSC speakers that work really well as stage monitors and also as a PA speakers for small functions. 
Pedal Board / Effects: I use a small pedal board with the Radial Pre-z, a TC Hall of Fame (Reverb), a Boomerang Looper, and a Roland GR-33 synth on the side with custom patches, mainly soft pads, that I use with the Godin.
Recording Gear: For nylon strings, I use a custom made 1986 Del Vecchio classical guitar, made in Brazil. For steel string I use the Martin Custom X Series. When recording at my home studio , I use a pair of an inexpensive Behringer C-2 mics which give me an amazing sound on both guitars. As far as interface, computer and software I use an M-Box Pro, Pro Tools and an iMAC. I also have other guitars and gears, but the ones I mentioned above are the ones I currently use the most.

Your music has groove. Instruments can be learned, songs can be learned but 'groove' seems much more elusive. How much of music do you think is a learned skill that anyone can attain with practice and discipline versus a talent that some people are just blessed with and unfortunately, others aren't?

I think music is made out of a mixture of both talent and discipline. No matter how talented someone might be, he will never reach a certain level of excellence without practice and discipline. For those blessed with natural gifts, a higher level of excellence might be easier to be reached, but practice and discipline will always be part of the process.
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