Rhett Butler

Rhett Butler

BandJazzAcoustic

"The Obsessive Compulsive Guitarist" Rhett Butler is known for playing two guitars at once. Rhett has shared the stage with Al DiMeola, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Larry Coryell and many other legends of the instrument. www.rhettbutler.org www.myspace.com/rhettbutlerguitar

Biography

"Rhett Butler is among the next generation of Texas Guitar Heroes."
Texas Music Magazine

VIDEOS @ www.myspace.com/rhettbutlerguitar

"THE OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE GUITARIST"

By ANDREW MARTON
STAR-TELEGRAM SENIOR ARTS WRITER

Last November, jazz guitarist Rhett Butler was heading home on Interstate 20, exhausted from a two-week concert tour that took him from Georgia through Alabama and Louisiana, when his cellphone rang. Lowering the blare of his favorite Van Halen CD, Butler heard his father's slightly shaken voice on the other end: Doctors had discovered two possibly cancerous tumors growing on his younger brother's neck. Once again, Ashley Butler faced the grim prospect of hospital beds, chemo treatments, and perhaps losing a battle he had been waging for more than 20 years.

On hearing the news, 31-year old Rhett, usually a tower of older-brother strength and resilience, crumpled into a mass of frustration and fear. All he could do was pull his Nissan Frontier truck to the side of the freeway, turn off the ignition and cry. For 45 minutes.

"I always feared getting that call," Butler recalls, "when I did, it just about destroyed me."

After his eyes had no more tears to give, Butler slowly collected himself and headed for his baby brother's side.

Of the ensuing daily vigil at the hospital, Rhett Butler would later write in the liner notes of his most recent CD: "In a fairly comfortable chair, I sit with my feet propped up on the bed. One hand is holding a pen and the other is holding my baby brothers [sic] hand. I listen anxiously for every breath that he takes . . ."

Ashley's lifelong struggle against cancer is the underlying refrain in the sibling saga of Rhett and Ashley Butler. It has informed nearly every facet of Rhett's personal and artistic life. It's the reason he picked up the guitar in the first place and why it became his primary escape. It's embedded in his passionate guitar style, all percussive bursts of melodic energy.

It's apparent in the grin that animates Rhett's face every time Ashley walks into a room.

The stoic grace with which Ashley has shouldered his cancer has made him a role model of strength and resilience. It is Rhett who relies on Ashley as both musical muse and flesh-and-blood compass -- offering perspective as Rhett navigates the narcissistic waters of professional music.

"People always ask me if I'm getting stressed out about getting a new CD done or what I'm thinking before attempting to play two guitars at the same time," says Rhett. "And I always say that my brother's life-and-death fight with cancer is more than I ever could do just playing the guitar. I mean, he's defied the odds just to be here, and that makes him so inspirational."

As Ashley gently pats his big brother's arm, Rhett adds: "He just makes me believe I can do whatever I need to do."

All about Ashley

Rhett Butler -- yes, his real name, chosen, along with Ashley's, by their mother, Cindy, who was a huge Gone With the Wind fan -- was born in Atlanta. His family moved to Humble when he was 3.

In 1982, when Rhett was only 8, his family was brought to its knees by the news that a golf ball-sized tumor had been discovered on 2-year-old Ashley's brain. Formerly known as primitive neuroectodermal, the cancerous growth is notorious for metastasizing so rampantly that doctors at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston excised 90 percent of the growth before telling the Butlers "to simply take Ashley home and just love him."

Translation: Ashley had only months to live.

But the Butlers would fight that gallows timetable. They took Ashley to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City for six months of radiation, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, all designed to burn away the rest of the tumor and any lingering cancer cells.

Against all odds, Ashley began to grow stronger. There would be setbacks. Two more operations to remove tumors on both Ashley's brain and neck left him almost completely blind, with a stunted physique (he's 5 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds) and with partial learning disabilities.

But he's alive. And having just celebrated his 26th birthday, Ashley Butler is one of the world's longest-living survivors of this especially ruthless pediatric cancer. "He's really one of a kind," beams Rhett.

Only three years after weathering the trauma of Ashley's first brain operation, 12-year-old Rhett asked his parents for a guitar for Christmas.

"Everybody in the family had been dealing with Ashley's condition in their own way," recalls Rhett. "For me, I just got a guitar, then disappeared into it."

After seven months of lessons, he pursued the instrument on his own intense terms. Day after day, he retreated into a musical shell. What blossomed was Butler's fiery musical work ethic marked by his constant repetition of some blindingly fast guitar passages by everyone from Eddie Van Halen to Stevie Ray Vaughn.

"We listened to so much Edd

Discography

2006 ...In This World (with The Dallas Symphony)
2005 Live at Houston Northwest
2005 The Kid from Kilkenny
2004 Action Figure
2002 A New Way Home
2001 The Physics of Acoustics
2000 Solitaire
2000 A Guitar for Christmas
1999 Live and Uncut

Set List

Solo:
A solo performance will usually last 1hr 20 min with no break.
1. The Physics of Acoustics
2. Good and Evil (2 Guitars)
3. The Kid from Kilkenny
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
5. We Can't Go Back
6. The Weary Traveler
7. Galway Races
8. House of the Rising Sun/Fur Elise
9. Shindo Scale
10. God's Speed
11. January 3rd 1999
12. Always with You, Always with Me (2 Guitars)
13. Amazing Grace

A Trio performance will last 1hr 50m with one break.
The Rhett Butler Organization performance will last 2hr with one break.