By Joyce Hartless
Robert Earl Longley will perform Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Canyon Community Center in Springdale.
For Longley, music is natural and intuitive, so it was important for him to discover it on his own. The mysterious aspect of learning new musical techniques intrigues him. And he enjoys sharing those techniques, as well as what inspires him to create the music, with the audience.
Longley began dabbling with stringed instruments from a very young age and took first place in eight competitions in two years time while in his 20s, and now he has a large collection of different stringed instruments and a recording studio. Despite having an ear for music, he still spends four to six hours per day, as he has for many years, perfecting his musical techniques.
As a child, he listened to classical symphonic music. As he grew older, he discovered the Flamenco music of Carlos Montoya, who is still his favorite. Longley would go to Montoya’s concerts with binoculars so he could watch his hands. It was a very inspiring experience, and the music still brings him great joy. But he never desired to reproduce someone else’s music. Longley claims he’s not trainable, desiring to create his own unique sound.
“The only rule is there are no rules, and that’s a wonderful place to be in any kind of art,” he said. “You create your own parameters. You choose the tools, the instruments, and then creatively there’s no limit.”
Growing up in New Orleans, Longley was also influenced by American blues and southern country blues. The New Orleans jazz music was really not his thing because he was more interested in the guitar being the principal instrument. But he’s not shy about experimenting. In addition to percussion and keyboard, Longley also learned how to play the harp. While in New Orleans, he acquired an Irish harp and took lessons, practicing diligently. He ended up playing folk music with the harp!
Having produced the film scores of two films shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Longley says that he enjoys the orchestral, progressive nature of film music and that he desires future opportunities.
Fans of rock, jazz, and even classical guitar find Longley’s original compositions and masterful delivery melodious, flamboyant, and exhilarating. His musical artistry and friendly manner never fail to awe audiences of all ages. Longley currently has 10 albums. He will be performing from his latest, “Guitar Royale,” during his visit to Springdale.
The Canyon Community Center is located at 126 Lion Blvd. in Springdale. Admission is $10 per Z-Arts member and $15 per non-member, cash or check at the door. For more information, visit zarts.org, or call (435) 772-3434 x 313.
Longley will give an insightful and encouraging demonstration to the students of Springdale Elementary School Feb. 9.
Presented by the Zion Canyon Arts and Humanities Council (Z-Arts), Longley’s performance and educational outreach are underwritten by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums with funding from the State of Utah and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the Western States Arts Federation. Lodging has been generously provided by Flannigan’s Inn. The Independent and the Washington County RAP tax assisted with advertising expenses. Z-Arts is grateful for all the support received to bring such amazing talent to Zion Canyon.