Sparta resident Ellsworth (“El”) McMeen has released a new solo guitar recording called “Strike Up the Band! Classic Band Marches for Fingerstyle Guitar.”
This recording is the first album ever released devoted entirely to the band music of John Philip Sousa arranged and performed on guitar. McMeen covers six of Sousa’s most famous band marches: “El Capitan,” “King Cotton,” “Hands Across the Sea,” “Semper Fidelis,” “The Liberty Bell,” and “The Thunderer.” To McMeen’s knowledge, none of these marches has ever been arranged and recorded on guitar.
“This recording combines two strands of my musical DNA,” McMeen explained. “I am a guitarist, but once was a serious clarinetist, and played many marches in bands and orchestras. This album allows me to share my love of guitar and these marches.”
The going was tough, McMeen admitted. “Trying to capture Sousa on guitar was brutal. It has been done before, but very infrequently. I needed the grace of God (thank you, Jesus), and indispensable help from my co-producer and recording engineer Marc Moss of Target Studios in Red Hook, NY.”
This project was a product of the COVID-19 situation. “I had to record at home, and then music files passed back and forth over the Internet between Marc and me. That approach was necessary, but difficult for both of us. It did, however, show that fruit can still emerge out of this sad and challenging COVID-19 situation we have been in.”
The album is available through McMeen’s website (www.elmcmeen.com) and eventually through Amazon, other outlets, and various streaming services.
McMeen has written numerous books of guitar music for Mel Bay Publications, publisher of music and instructional materials distributed internationally. He has recorded instructional and performance DVD’s for Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop (www.guitarvideos.com), and gives private guitar lessons and workshops.
With over a dozen solo guitar recordings, McMeen is listed on the Digitaldreamdoor website (www.tinyurl.com/greatestguitarists) as one of the top 100 acoustic guitarists in the world. He has authored or co-authored numerous music and other books, including his memoir called “Growing Up in God’s Country,” which was a #1 New Release on Amazon.
McMeen is a retired partner in the New York City law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. He is married to Sheila, and they have four married children and four grandchildren.