Interview: Mitch Chmara

Dan McAvinchey: Mitch, when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you learn and progress as a player?

Mitch Chmara: My first guitar was a Kingston acoustic at age nine. Hearing pop AM radio caught my ears to the jangle of the electric guitar and to see them at department stores and music shops, boy I was hooked. I took a few lessons, but they taught sight reading from a popular book at that time. Man, that was a drag because I was ready to be shown the parts to play - start rockin' you know! By hanging out with older players I learned more, then the jazz bug hit me. Before that it was Hendrix, man! Lots of practice and then I made a full time living at it after high school, but I had to switch styles to make a living so it was rock, country, blues, R&B, then jazz and classical.

Dan McAvinchey: Was your latest album self-released, or did you hook up with a label?

Mitch Chmara: My first CD with my name on it was self-released. They recorded me for free so I would have a product out but it is a live CD, recorded in a club on a night I didn't know I was to be recorded. The band was brand new, so it is a raw sounding record - bootleggish. Soon though, I will record my originals in a studio. Other than that I've been asked to record on other artists' CDs, and I have preformed and recorded with some jazz greats (Joey DeFrancisco, Ritchie Cole), and top local talent too.

Dan McAvinchey: Can you describe your musical style?

Mitch Chmara: Sometimes a jazzy, be-bop Hendrixy thing, or a straight ahead jazz style - Benson-ish when on a clean Gibson sound. Very impromptu, taking chances - chops to spacelike balance at times. Or it can be a solo guitar thing with chorale and fugue-like improvisations.

Dan McAvinchey: Which of the tracks from your most recent project do you enjoy playing the most?

Mitch Chmara: "Dance Of The Fallen Kings" - it was featured on coast-to-coast AM radio bumper music in January of 2014. This rock ballad is my homage to Hendrix with a slightly different vocabulary. It is a vocal tune done instrumentally and simplistically. Perhaps you'll hear the lryics when played a few times.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about the guitars and other gear you use to get your sound.

Mitch Chmara: Fender Stratocaster stock, with reverb and delay from a Sans Amp GT-2 pedal. That night I used a small Polytone amp 1x12 speaker, solid state - it was a very small room. I prefer older Marshall and Fender amps otherwise. On a jazz date my Polyone with a Gibson BB KIng Lucille strung with 12 16 20 plain,30 40 52.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your music?

Mitch Chmara: I'm using CD Baby, Reverb Nation, and the Red Den interview. I could use some help here.

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Dan McAvinchey: From a promotion standpoint, what do you find is working best for you?

Mitch Chmara: Sometimes not advertising it at all and let it happen as a chance discovery that some one will discover something new, or a bit different than the same old stuff in most clubs.

Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think certain music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?

Mitch Chmara: They are probably musicians themselves, or love the emotion and vocabulary of a certain instument they love.

Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

Mitch Chmara: Bach piano and violin musical compositions. Check out my You Tube video playing my original composition "Sratus Modess" on solo Stratocaster, recorded in my apartment at apartment level volume.

Dan McAvinchey: What's happening in the near future for you?

Mitch Chmara: I have three new guitar improvisational based books ready to fly - they're like a treasure chest, grab a few gems and put them in your vocabulary. The first one is based on Contrary Motion - Experiental Contrary Motion for the Guitar, dedicated to Ted Greene whom I had the pleasure to study with by phone for about 2 1/2 years. A sample of this amazing teqnique is on my web site, at the bottom of my home page -

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A Chicago-born, South Milwaukee transplant, Colorado-based guitarist Mitch Chmara has studied under the tutelage of Billy Wallace and Ted Greene. He has earned a living and a reputation as a player with an extremely high level of musicianship. One listen to the Donny Lama Trio featuring bassist Kim Stone and drummer Kevin Smith will confirm any suspicion that what you've heard really is out of this world.

Dan McAvinchey recently caught up with Chmara to discuss his playing, his gear choices and much more.