Mike Varneys Spotlight

March 14, 2005

Guitarist: Lucas Martin

Age: 14

Style: Instrumental rock and blues

Influences: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Frank Zappa

Main Guitar: Fender American Stratocaster, Ibanez Prestige

Location: Granbury, Texas

Background: Martin recorded impressive versions of SRV’s “Scuttle Buttin’,” Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and Vai’s “The Animal,” and although he is not yet as good as those players, he has been playing for a mere two years and he’s only 14!

After receiving a Strat from his father, and seeing Stevie Ray perform “Pride and Joy” on a live concert DVD, Martin practiced seven hours a day during holidays, school vacations, and weekends—and three hours per day while in school—which, combined with his awesome innate talent, produced impressive results. Martin will soon record his first original songs, and he hopes to have a career as a touring and recording artist. If the young guitarist continues developing at this rate, he may well find his way back into GP before too long.

Contact: texces@aol.com

Guitarist: Scott A. Smith

Age: 40

Style: Rock, blues, country, and jazz

Influences: Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Tony MacAlpine, Danny Gatton

Main Guitar: Custom Shop Fender Telecaster

Location: Houston, Texas

Background: Smith received an acoustic guitar while in high school, but upon hearing Van Halen, he sold it and purchased a Telecaster. Smith studied at Texas Music Arts School and Houston Community College, and played club dates with a local band before moving to L.A. to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology in 1986 (where he performed on the 1987 graduation album).

Smith later became interested in country, purchased a pedal-steel, and began playing as a hired gun for regional and national country acts. Smith returned to music school in the late ’90s, and then began teaching. A preview of his upcoming solo record reveals him to be a very diverse player, bringing to mind Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson, the Outlaws, and Speedy West.

Contact: meguitarzan@earthlink.net

Guitarist: Denny Mishler

Age: 23

Style: Instrumental rock

Influences: Steve Vai, Dream Theater, Pantera, Racer X, Limp Bizkit

Main Guitar: Ibanez Universe 7

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Background: Mishler switched from drums to guitar at the age of 12, and recorded his first solo album, 2000’s Last Rain, while barely out of high school. His music received airplay worldwide, and the title track reached #3 on mp3.com’s Instrumental Rock charts. As a member of Damn Skippy, Mishler won the 2003 Stockmen’s Battle of the Bands contest in Elko, Nevada, along with the title of Northern Nevada’s Best Guitarist.

On his current demo, Mishler plays a variety of styles—showing influences such as Joe Satriani and Dimebag Darrell—and offers a burning unaccompanied solo. Armed with impressive speed-picking and arpeggio skills, Mishler tempers his over-the-top chops with well-crafted melodies and interesting compositions.

Contact: lemmy555@yahoo.com; soundclick.com

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