It's an image that lingers in the mind long after the sound is gone.
"Just because of its shape, it tends to stick in people's memory," said Stephen Bennett, describing the harp guitar, an eye-catching hybrid of an acoustic six-string and a resonating bass, which he has single-handedly resurrected from antiquity.
Watching Bennett play may be half the fun, but this quintessential harp guitarist is no musical novelty act. As a composer, performer and winner of the 1987 National Flatpicking Championship, Bennett is an eclectic guitarist who's fingerpicking virtuosity and scorching slide licks on the steel guitar attest to his mastery of the instrument -- in all its incarnations.
On Thursday, May 13, the Black Rose Acoustic Society will present Bennett in concert at the Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs.
"Playing live, and just trying to make people feel something, is my favorite part of what I do musically," said Bennett. "Finding out after the fact that somebody had tears streaming down their face while I was playing, makes this all worthwhile."
Bennett, who has recorded and self-released over a dozen albums since the mid-'80s and has toured internationally, is perpetually drawn to the guitar's limitless potential for conveying a wide range of emotions.
"Categories turn people off," he said. "To call my music folk, or pop, or jazz, makes it more difficult to hear the guitar truly express itself. My music is never one specific mood, and so I expect people to react to it in different ways."
Yet it's difficult not to react with admiration for Bennett, who is as comfortable conveying a subtle, anachronistic charm, hunched over his great-grandfather's 1909 Larson Brothers harp guitar, as he is, tearin' through the blues.
"I just think of it all in terms of music," said Bennett, "and it all feels natural."
capsule Black Rose Acoustic Society presents: Stephen Bennett
Thursday, May 13, 7:30 p.m.
Business of Art Center,
515 Manitou Ave.
$15 general public, $10 BRAS members
For more, call 633-3660