Em K
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Em K

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Em K "Extreme Solo Acoustic Guitar"
There's a reason why there's a picture of a guitar in flames on the cover of this CD. Em K, aka Michael Klapholz, plays so fast and hard that it's like his hands are on fire on this 11 track CD of "extreme solo acoustic guitar" work. He's the guitar equivalent of the X Games.
This isn't the kind of record you put on when you want some nice soft acoustic guitar as background music. Klapholz, once lead guitarist for the '70s Marin rock band Chumbi, wants you to sit up and take notice to his distinctive fusion of classical and rock guitar techniques. You can hear his fingernails and pick tearing at the steel strings of his acoustic guitars on barn burners like Rossini's "The William Tell Overture" and Mozart's "Rondo alla Turka."
He brings his classical style to rock numbers like Page/Plant's "Going to California" to often stunning effect.
But when he takes on Freddy Mercury's "Bohemian Rhapsody," he's competing with guitarists like Edgar Cruz, which is never a good idea. And I wish he had laid off Mason Williams' 1988 masterpiece "Classical Gas" because no one can touch the all-too-familiar original.
Still, the mastery he displays on the opening "Sunburst" by Andrew York, another showpiece for acoustic guitarists, is captivating. He appropriately tones it down on Barrios' gorgeous "La Catedral." And he more than does justice to Pieza de Fernando Sor's "Opus 35 Estudio," yet another acoustic guitar chestnut.
The most striking track may be his take no prisoners rendition of Steven Tyler's "Dream On," a piece that lends itself to Klapholz's style and shows real sensitivity and masterful command of dynamics.
By playing with steel strings while other solo acoustic guitarists stick to the traditional soft nylon, Em K sets himself apart. There may be no one else quite like him. - Marin Independent Journal


"Extreme" CD
Tracks receiving radio airplay on KFOG's Acoustic Sunrise & Acoustic Sunset



Innovative rocker turned classical guitarist Em K, raised in Pennsylvania and New York, began playing guitar at age seven. He honed his craft when it was considered cool to be a lead rock guitar player, and incorporating the outrageous into his playing came naturally. His parents, both artists, encouraged his music. Growing up, he witnessed their artistic endeavors and success, and he was ingrained with the belief that he could be a successful musician.
As a teenager, Em K put together the band Chumbi, a band steeped as much in performance as in original music, much of which he composed. The band found success on the East Coast, but wanting more exposure, Em K passed up a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee School of Music, and the band moved to Northern California. Their grass roots promotion sold out the 1,000 seat Stone for their first San Francisco concert. Em K quickly became known as Chumbi's dynamic lead guitar player and he enjoyed being an entertainer as well as a musician, often exploding his guitar in mid-air, before catching it and continuing to play. The band had a loyal following, and before breaking up, they opened for many well-known bands in the 1980's.
After years on the rock music scene as a performer and composer, Em K decided to go solo and began playing classical pieces, but with a distinctive rock-inspired approach. Paying homage to his rock roots, he also performs some of that genre's most popular songs, which have been classically transcribed. Because of his time spent as a performing rock guitarist, he plays his steel-stringed guitar standing up. If you think Led Zeppelin doesn't blend with Tarrega, that blues licks have no place in classical music, you need only listen to the exciting guitar sound of Em K. Voted one of Marin's Guitar Heroes and appreciated by audiences of all ages, Em K fuses the beauty of classical with the raw energy of rock, resulting in an enchanting and uniquely personal sound.