Rhett Butler
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Rhett Butler


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"Report from the 27th Annual Dallas Guitar Show - April 29, 2004"

The 27th Annual Dallas Guitar Show and Music Fest took place April 17-18 at its new location, the cavernous Market Hall complex. This year’s show, bolstered by news media coverage and a musical guest lineup that seemed more in line with a national outdoor festival than a mere guitar show, broke all records for attendance and numbers of exhibitors. “We’ve waited nineteen years for this facility,” said Mark Pollock the event’s co-promoter. With over 216,000 square feet of exhibition floor and a huge adjacent room providing ample space and isolation for the music stage and seating, Market Hall proved to be a wonderful setting for the 27th Dallas guitar event.

On stage in the 1,500-seat adjacent concert hall, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Johnny A, Ronnie Montrose, Rick Derringer, Andy Timmons, Phil Keaggy and Rhett Butler were some of the artists that performed entire shows supported by their own bands. The stage, lighting and sound system were full-bore. Most shows filled to beyond capacity.

Other performance highlights were the guest guitarists who performed with the Stratoblasters and during the Stratoblaster-hosted jam. The special guests included: Greg Martin (Kentucky Headhunters), extraordinary blues-man Michael Burks, Andy Timmons, Rick Vito (Bob Seager/ Fleetwood Mac), Johnny A, Ronnie Montrose and many others.

Also notable was Rhett Butler playing two guitars at once. This is no joke folks! The music was complex (both hands were very busy) and he nailed every bit of it.

This was the first year in a long time that weather wasn’t a major factor in the enjoyment potential of the musical performances. Saying Texas weather is unpredictable is like saying that Lake Michigan is a pretty good-sized pond. The ability to have the Main Stage shows indoors, and out of the elements, was a significant improvement.

"Guitarist puts heart, soul, both hands into his art"

Rhett Butler is named after the character in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, but the Dallas musician says he wants to more like recording artist Kenny G. A solo guitarist who studied jazz at the University of North Texas, Mr. Butler's already earning a name for himself locally and nationally for playing two guitars at the same time.

"The reason you do it is because on the guitar you can only play one note per string, no matter how you pluck it or tap it," he said. With two guitars, it allows you to play on the same string... Each hand can go anywhere on the fret board it wants to go.
"What I try to do is incorporate every way that I've ever seen or thought about to play the guitar," Mr. Butler said.

A member of St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Mr. Butler said performing has always been a religious experience for him. "You get to this place where you are totally immersed; you know that the music isn't coming form your brain, and your not doing it," he said. "That's the way I feel when I'm performing."

Most of his fans like jazz and new-age music, but the 28-year-old said that he's seen all types of people stop to watch him perform. He has an ongoing contract with Barnes & Noble that allows him to perform inside the bookstores to promote his CD's. His CD Solitaire is currently the highest selling independent album in the country for the bookstore chain.

Though Mr. Butler said he doesn't expect to become famous, he wants to perform in front of as many people as possible and hopes to do for the guitar what Kenny G did for the saxophone. "He took a jazz style, and he kind of brought it into the mainstream," he said. "I've always kind of thought of myself like that... a musician for the common man."

A relative newcomer to the field, Mr. Butler has already earned several honors. Substance TV magazine named him one of its People of Substance and the Dallas-based Dallas Observer nominated him as Solo Artist for the 2001 Dallas Music Awards.

His two other CDs, The Physic of Acoustics and A Guitar for Christmas are also reporting strong sales. He plans to release a new full-length CD this spring.
Since Sept. 11, Mr. Butler has been performing benefit concerts at area churches and donating the proceeds to victim relief groups, such as the American Red Cross. He has raised about $3,500.

Article by: Kristen Holland
- The Dallas Morning News

"Have guitars, will travel"

Look Who's Coming: Rhett Butler, guitarist
- By Matt Ehlers

Rhett Butler is the definition of a traveling troubadour, driving his pickup across the country with four guitars and a sound system in the back, ready to set up at your neighborhood coffee shop.

Without a record deal, the Texan has managed to sell more than 12,000 CDs of his instrumental guitar music. It's not jazz, exactly, or new age, although his sound has elements of each.

He also does a little something that sets him apart from your average guitar slinger. Those who stop by Thursday night to see his set at Six String Cafe in Cary will be treated to a handful of tunes played on two guitars at once, as he uses a stand to prop up the second instrument in front of him.

Butler, 32, spoke from a tour stop in Nashville.

Q - Tell me about the first time you tried to play two guitars at once.

A - It was just an idea that I had. I was playing a Starbucks maybe six, six-and-a-half years ago. I had an electric guitar and I had an acoustic guitar. I was sitting around the house, just trying to come up with some stuff that I thought would attract new people to watch me play. I just came up with that idea, and I guess that qualifies as some kind of gimmick. But I think it's a little more useful than that. I discovered that it was more. I was like, "oh wow, you can actually make some music that sounds bigger than just one instrument."

Q - I read on your Web site that you're trying to conquer the world one coffee shop at a time.

A - (Laughing.) I don't know where I got that.

Q How's the coffee been?

A - When I say coffee shop, you know they have those acoustic coffeehouses. It's not like a Starbucks. There are a lot of concert series around the country where they don't serve alcohol; they'll serve coffee and cakes and all that stuff. ... I have no complaints. I understand that you can't make that big a deal of yourself if you're playing instrumental guitar music. If something happens and you get a break, that's great. Other than that, you've got to realize that you are what you are. You have this little place inside the music business, and you just play and perform as well as you can. I guess maybe I should take that off the Web site. I don't know if I really feel like that's accurate. (More laughing).

Q - Is Rhett your middle name? Or is it your first name?

A - Rhett's my middle name. And it's the name I've always gone by. My first name is William.

Q - What's it like carrying the Rhett Butler name around?

A - You know, people remember it a little easier. But I always have to go through the typical jokes: Did your mother not give a damn or something? But for one week in my eighth-grade year, I was the most popular kid in school, while we were watching "Gone With the Wind."

- Raliegh News and Observer

"The Kid from Kilkenny"

Georgetown man's triumph over cancer inspires musician brother to devote CD profits to charity
- Thursday, April 28, 2005

GEORGETOWN -- One day in November, entertaining people was suddenly not enough for Rhett Butler, a musician known for playing two guitars at once.

Sitting in a hospital lobby in Houston, Butler watched a pianist tickling the ivories for somber patients a day after doctors removed a malignant tumor from his little brother, Ashley's, neck.

"I understood (the pianist's) role was to entertain them for the moment, but I didn't feel like she was helping them much beyond that," Butler said. "I wanted to start helping in a tangible way, so all this time I have spent learning to play the guitar will have meant something to someone."

That revelation began the Ashley Butler Foundation, a charity that will give profits from Rhett Butler's latest CD, "The Kid from Kilkenny," to the families of patients undergoing lengthy treatments at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where Ashley is a patient.

Ashley lives in Georgetown with parents Hugh and Cindy Butler and is recovering from the successful removal of his tumor.

The idea for the foundation is rooted in the Butler family's first struggle for Ashley's life in 1982, when the 2-year-old was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Doctors told the Butlers to take their baby home and love him because he only had a few months to live, Butler said.

The Butlers researched an experimental procedure at a New York hospital. Broke and living at the Ronald McDonald House, the Butlers toughed it out in New York for several months.

"People need money during these times, if nothing else for eating out," said Cindy Butler, who teaches special education and accounting in the Granger school district.

Now 25, Ashley is a 2002 graduate of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin. Radiation therapy and the removal of a benign brain tumor in 1987 left him visually impaired and with childlike qualities. Hugh Butler said Ashley collects Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and keychains and is a "fanatic" about genealogy.

Because his latest prognosis seemed bleak for a while, Rhett vowed to save $10,000 of the CD's profits to take Ashley to the lands of ancestors, Ireland and Greece. In Greece, joked Hugh Butler, Ashley wants to visit Paradise Beach, which features scantily clad women in a travel book picture.

"I also want to go see if I have any cousins," Ashley piped in.

Produced in two intense months, the CD is named for the origins of the Butler name in Kilkenny, Ireland, diligently researched by Ashley at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and on the Internet.

"I cried with every note," Butler said of recording the CD. "When I finished, I literally ached."

Butler lives in Denton, where he coaches athletics at the Selwyn School. He regularly performs across Texas and has opened for Eric Johnson at the Cactus Café on the University of Texas campus.

Ashley goes to Butler's shows and signs copies of the CD.

"He is as much a part of this as I am," Butler said. "He inspires, and my job is to entertain. We are going to work together and use the strengths we have and make a difference for people."

How to help

Visit www.rhettbutler.org to find performance information or buy 'The Kid from Kilkenny' online. Butler is schedule to perform at the Cactus Cafe in Austin at 8 p.m. July 14.

- Austin American Statesman

"Celebrated guitarist plays two-at-a-time for charity"

By Michelle Broussard

Sometimes, healing must come from within...from a song. For one family, healing has been a life-long commitment and a member of this extraordinary famil has found a purpose, a muse, and a message.

Rhett Butler (yes, Rhett Butler), formerly of Humble, has built a reputation for his innovations in guitar. He is best known for playing two guitars at the same time. It is what he calls. "Obsessive-compulsive guitar music," although reviews have heralded him as an instrumental genius, incorporating sounds which stretch across genres.

Butler's latest CD pays tribute to someone very special in his life - his brother Ashley. This collection entitled, "The Kid from Kilkenny," will not only see a dream realized, but it will help families at MD Anderson pay their expenses while battling pediatric cancer.

Ashley was diagnosed with cancer at the very young age of two. His rare malignant brain tumor was identified as PNET (Primitive Neuroectedermal Tumor) and he was given a mere four to six months to live and that treatments would be of no benefit. In fact, according to Butler, his parents were told to take the baby home and just love him for the few months they had left.

"Hugh and Cindy [parents] were not interested in watching their child die without a fight," explained Butler. "By the time of Ashley's surgery, my father knew more about PNET tumors than the physicians. An experimental procedure at New York's Sloan Kettering Hospital was found that Hugh believed would save his son's life. If Hugh was the tactician, Cindy was certainly the foot soldier."

Butler explained that his parents were told if the tumor did not return within nine months, that it would simply not return.

"It didn't return and Ashley Butler is the world's longest living case of a PNET brain tumor," said a very proud Butler. "Ashley is now 25 years old, and lives in Georgetown, Texas. His hobbies are genealogy and family history as well a politics."

Ashley's fight continued with the more recent discovery of two tumors, which were removed on Nov. 18, 2004. The first to be removed was a benign thyroid tumor, which incidentally, is discovered in approximately 85 percent of those who receive treatment as children. The second tumor was a malignant nerve cancer or Nuerofibrosarcoma, and according to the attending physicians, Ashley should not require additional treatment and he's currently on standard check-ups, every four months, for CT scans.

Over the years, according to Butler, Ashley has developed a keen fascination with the Butler family history. Originating in Kilkenny, Ireland, the Butler's lineage also includes Greece and it is Ashley's dream to visit both countries.

Butler has created "The Kid from Kilkenny" in an effort to show his brother a piece of the past. The initial proceeds from this CD will finance a trip for Ashley, which Butler said would constitute up to 1,000 copies sold.

"Later, I will be donating earnings to the Ashley Butler Foundation," said Butler. My mother came up with the idea for the charity. In 1982, when he was first diagnosed, our family was struggling financially - my mother wanted to help families with that financial burden."

Butler is holding a concert to benefit the foundation on April 2 at the Houston Northwest Church, located at 19911 Hwy. 249 in Houston. Tickets will cost $5.00. For information call (281) 469-3389.

Butler has played shows with Eric Johnson, Phil Keaggy, Joe Satriani, just to name a few. For videos, reviews, and further information concerning his career visit www.rhettbutler.org

Additional information may be obtained by visiting www.ashleybutlerfoundation.org

- Humble Observer

"Music from the Heart"

Guitarist to Play at CTC to raise money for his brother's rare illness
By Erin Steele

Musician Rhett Butler is renowned for his ability with the guitar - the University of North Texas grad can play two instruments at once with greater ease than most can play one.

But dispite the kudos he has received, Butler couldn't help but feel that something was missing. When his little brother, Ashley, once again began a battle with the rare malignant brain tumor that had plagued him since childhood, Butler finally knew what it was he was searching for: a purpose.

In response, the musician set up the Ashley Butler Foundation, with proceeds from his concerts and CD sales going toward the fund. Butler is scheduled to play at Central Texas College on Feb. 24, where he hopes to raise even more money for his little brother's cause.

Butler - who has been playing solo guitar for the past six years - was approached by CTC music professor Celinda Hallbauer asmost one year ago about doing a concert at the college. Though it was initially set up as a typical show, his brother's renewed medical problems in November caused Butler to change the format of the concert.

"I do all of this fancy guitar playing, but I kind of felt like it was just for me," Butler said. "I didn't feel like I was really helping anybody else, and I wanted to change that; I'm trying to do something positive. When my brother ended up in the hospital, it shook me up pretty good."

Butler's brother was 2 years old when it was discovered that he had a primitive nueroectedermal tumor. Now 25, he is the world's longest living case of PNET.

"I was 13 when he got sick, and that's when I started playing the guitar," Butler said. "I just kind of dissapeared into it. He's the reason that I started playing, and now it's coming full circle, because I can use music to help him."

In the two moths following his brother's surgery, Butler recorded a new CD entitled "The Kid from Kilkenny." The title of the CD refers to his brother, a genealogy buff, and the fact that the name Butler originated in Kilkenny.

"I have never put my heart into anything like this before; it is light years ahead of any of my other CDs," Butler said. "There's so much emotion in this one, and it's hard to get that across sometimes when you're recording. This CD is pretty emotional, I think."

The procedes from the CD are first going toward a trip to Europe for Ashley - whose lifelong dream has been to visit the countries of his heritage, Greece and Ireland - and later to the Ashley Butler Foundation. The foundation provides families of pediatric cancer patients at MD Anderson hospital in Houston with financial aid during extended treatment.

Butler will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the LBJ Fine ARts Auditorium. Tickets are $5 per person.
- Killeen Daily Harold

"Texan Rhett Butler lets his fingers do talking"

OK, we might as well get it over with. His name is Rhett Butler.

Yes, Rhett Butler. And it’s his real name - at least, it’s his real middle name.

But, if you can help it, don’t associate this guy with some Deep South tapscallion who has a bad moustache and a worse way with women.

This Rhett Butler is a guitarist from Austin, Texas. And while we’re smashing stereotypes, he’s not the swaggering troubadour you might expect to come out of a Lons Star honky-tonk either. His music is a gentle, beautiful synthesis of pop, folk and jazz tones. It’s instrumental music, and the kind of stuff you expect to hear on NPR instead of “Austin City Limits.”

“I can’t put it into words when someone asks me what your genre is,” Butler says. “I say ‘crazy guitar music.’ As long as I can have an audience of people who will sit and listen, I’m comfortable with it.”

He’ll seek that audience at The Loft on Wednesday. It’ll be his second time at the club but his first show on a Wednesday night, which he hopes will bring a crowd that has more of an appetite for the dynamics of his acoustic and electric guitar work.

Butler is not afraid to hijack some listeners with some gimmickry – the whole name thing and his well-publicized ability to play two guitars at once – because he can keep and audience with honest-to-God talent. In fact during a recent phone interview, the only time the conversational guy was at a loss for words was when he was asked if he was ever afraid people would dismiss him as a gimmick.

He recovered nicely.

“If that’s what people need to be interested in the music, that’s OK with me,” he said. “In some ways, I guess it is a gimmick. But I do the two guitars maybe three tunes during a show. …Anything I can do to make the guitar keep their interest for so long works.”

That is not to say that it’ll be a stuffy show. Like the best of Texas songwriter, Butler is likely to tell jokes and stories between songs. Just don’t look for him to sing.

That, he said, would be just too big a joke.

“I have a singing coach and all that stuff. I contemplate it,” he said of singing.
“But then, when I do it, I find I’m not a great singer. And I find it takes away from my guitar playing.
That’s why I use so many techniques on the guitar. So I don’t have to sing.”

Article by: Brad Barnes
- The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

"2 guitars, 2 hands, 1 Texan make ambidextrous melodies"

How often do you see someone play two guitars at the same time?

Rhett Butler brought his ambidextrous talent to the Muddy Cup in Stapleton last night in an intimate show for 25 people.

He was accompanied by childhood friend and fellow Texan Chris Miller.

"It's so much more calm here than it is across the river," said Butler in a warm Southern drawl. "This is a cool place. It's kind of inspiring . I like this more than when I was playing in Manhattan."

Jim Svets, co-owner of the coffee shop, was thrilled to have the two play.

"I try to leave one or two spaces open a month so we can hear music from around the country," he said.

Miller got the listeners charged up with some acoustic Texas honky-tonk.

His toe-tapping licks, mixed with blues vocals and folk lyrics gave the crowd something to clap to - and laugh to, as he cracked jokes between songs.

"There is no argument," Miller said, of playing with Butler. "He'll be the best jazz guitarist and I'll be the best vocalist - because he doesn't sing."

Butler took the stage and started offf with an acoustic cut before breaking into his signature move - one electric guitar on a stand in front of him and another strapped over his shoulder. With a hand on each neck, he played both.

"I can play so many more notes," he said. "With one guitar, I can play the same songs but I have to dodge around the notes. This way, it makes the sound so much bigger."

He introduced each song which included country, Irish, jazz and classical influences, with a little story about it's origin.

The sound was hard to describe. At the same time, it was frantic and melodic, smooth and agressive.

His fingers danced across the strings with the deftness of a surgeon and mechanic speed, producing rich sounds filled with emotion.

According to Butler, playing two guitars isn't the hard part. It's the tapping - playing the strings on the neck like a piano - that's difficult.

"I like to call it crazy guitar music," he said. "It's not jazz, it's not new age, it's not classical, but the techniques are. It's obsessive-compulsive guitar music."

"They were spectacular," said Barbara Lynch of Stapleton. "These two guys really fit into the feel of this place."

Article by: Rob Hart
- Staten Island Advance


Anyone slipping in early for Tony Trischka's master banjo class at the Cactus Cafe in August would've first heard the sound of their jaw hitting the floor for opening guitar duet Rhett Butler. Eric Johnson, for whom the Dallas picker opened most recently at the Cactus, endorses Butler with: "I've never heard anyone get the sounds out of [two guitars at once] like Rhett does."

From Scott Joplin to Queen, Butler's ambidextrous doublenecking also goes electric, so Sixth Street's Hard Rock Cafe needn't worry about the clamor of dropping jaws.

- Raoul Hernandez - Music Editor - Austin Chronicle

"Less to fret about"

Solo guitarist tries letting a band help carry the tunes
By Matt Weitz

Dallas' Rhett Butler is familiar to most area music fans - after all, he's the guy who plays not one but two guitars in his effort to "get as much sound ...as possible."

He does it with one guitar around his neck and the other on a stand in front of him, tapping on the instruments' frets with his fingers.

It sounds like a gimmick, but Mr. Butler's skill makes the trick impressive; in his hands, a hoary classic rock number like "House of the Rising Sun" has the delacacy of a baroque madrigal.

His single-guitar work often sounds just as complex, and the focus and dedication that such technique demands have kept his music a one-man show.

Since he once told an interviewer, "I don't fit in well with a band," it's a bit of a surprise to learn that his upcoming album, Action Figure, will feature supporting musicians.

"I know most artist go the other way, taking a break from the band to work on something solo," the 30-year-old explains. "I just needed a break from pushing the limits of the one guitar."

Rough cuts from the album, slated for Jan. 31 release, reveal Mr. Butler's playing to be cushioned by bass and drum parts but pretty much the same as his solo work: clever arrangements, complex technique and a lot of attention paid to tone.

"The hardest part for me is not to play all the parts, to scale it back but still get a full sound," he says. "The real benefit is live, because it's so much easier to improvise - you don't have to hold the song together like you do playing solo."

And despite his obvious stylistic refinement, he considers himself anything but "some stuffy jazz guy. I owe more to Eddie Van Halen than Joe Pass."

Mr. Butler will play with a band at the Dallas Museum of Art on Jan. 22, as part of the museum's Jazz in the Atrium series. 6 p.p. Free. For more information on Mr. Butler, visit www.rhettbutler.org
- Dallas Morning News


- In the spring of 2000, Rhett released his first solo guitar album. “Solitaire” is now Barnes and Noble’s highest selling independent release in the history of the bookstore chain.

-The following December he released “A Guitar for Christmas”. He promptly followed up with the revolutionary “The Physics of Acoustics” in the spring of 2001. It features a 20-minute video guitar lesson along with 10 astonishing tracks.

-“A New Way Home” - 2002, is a solo acoustic guitar masterpiece.

-“Live-Houston/Northwest” - 2005, 1st Live CD

- "The Kid from Kilkenny” - 2005, is an exceptional experience. The production of this CD gives a new meaning to the word intimacy as it applies to music. The listener is transported into the guitar as you hear every nuance of Rhett’s technique. Eclecticism is the mantra for “The Kid from Kilkenny”. Butler for the first time showcases the dobro as well as the mandolin.
Kelly Brown lends her beautiful vocals on “Believe” and the heartbreaking lament, “Prelude”.
The CD was recorded with all of his heart. You can hear it. You can feel it. This CD is a collection of tunes dedicated to his little brother, Ashley Butler, a three time cancer survivor. Proceeds from the CD are donated to the Ashley Butler foundation, www.ashleybutlerfoundation.org , through which families of pediatric patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX may receive housing aid during extended treatment.



Rhett is a solo guitarist who studied jazz at the University of North Texas, and has earned a name for himself locally and nationally for playing two guitars at the same time.

He has taught and coached for 10 years in the private school setting. He is comfortable with presenting a 50/90 minute lecture/demonstration, master class, or question and answer session. He can present lessons on the two-handed tapping method, composition, arranging, recording sessions, or the intricacies of becoming a full-time performing musician.

At live performances the music carries the audience, evoking a raw emotional response.

"When SubstanceTV met Rhett Butler while researching one of its first features, we knew right away we had been introduced to an enormous talent.
The 28 year-old Humble, Texas native first picked up a guitar fifteen years ago, and he has since developed a style and technique both extraordinary and entertaining in this age of three-chord guitar heroes.
From classical to blues to rock, Rhett has demonstrated uncommon virtuosity and passion for his art, and we are proud to name him among SubstanceTV's People of Substance."
Substance TV