Fingerpicking Wizard Still Kicking
Ton Van Bergeyk (b.1953) launched his career as a musician during the late 1960s playing blues harp and ukulele in a duo setting, but he then switched to the acoustic guitar and quickly learned to play and master the instrument using fingerpicking technique. He started to transcribe and arrange classic ragtime compositions for fingerpicking guitar and was detected by Stefan Grossman, who recorded and produced Ton's first solo LP for the Kicking Mule label, "Famous Ragtime Guitar Solos" (1973), which contained 14 of Ton's arrangements of classic ragtime pieces. - In 1975, Ton's second solo LP for the Kicking Mule label was launched with the title "Guitar Instrumentals To Tickle Your Fingers", containing transcriptions and arrangements of novelty rags, early jazz and popular tunes of the 1930s and 1940s. - Ton's third solo LP for Kicking Mule was released 1980 and continued his exploration of arrangements for solo fingerpicking guitar, this time with a repertoire covering jazz, blues,contemporary pop and country and even Mexican folklore. The album was titled "Lulu's Back In Town, Hot Guitar Solos". - Ton also participated in 3-4 LP project anthologies for the Kicking Mule label, one of them released 1976 and titled "I Got Rhythm" has 7 arrangements and recordings featuring Ton and belongs to some of his best solo recordings for Kicking Mule. A descriptive discography of Ton's recordings for Kicking Mule is available here
The shown cd is a compilation of material from Ton's Kicking Mule recordings, it was issued 1992 by Shanachie (CD 98018) and may be hard to find nowadays, but it's certainly worth searching for. There are 19 tracks, mostly jazz standards, some blues and novelty rags and info notes by fellow guitarist Duck Backer.
Ton stopped his career gigging as a solo fingerpicking guitarist during the 1980s and was for some time into computer business, but soon returned as a musician taking part in various Dutch bands, among these were The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and The Gangbusters of local fame. During the 1990s Ton participated in The Beau Hunks, the excellentt Dutch big band specialising in reliving and recording forgotten music of the 1920s from the original arrangements. During this period Ton concentrated on playing rhythm guitar and once in a while banjo and ukulele, a practise he has continued to this day, now as a regular member of the well known Dutch Swing College Band.
Last year an English connoisseur of Ton's solo work as a guitarist, Stuart Frost, published a private issued book about Ton, a labour of love containing written memories of Ton's career by various people, who have met him through the years. The book also contains Stuart's precise transcriptions in tablature of all of Ton's issued solo guitar works,- a true collectors' item and a goldmine for aspiring guitarists trying to cope with Ton's arrangements. You can obtain a copy of this book by writing to Stuart Frost at firstname.lastname@example.org
I had the pleasure of meeting Ton in person a couple of times. November last year the Dutch Swing College Band toured my region of Denmark - the picture above is shot at one of the band's concerts then. After the concert I had a chat with Ton, remeniscing his days as a solo fingerpicking performer. During our chat Ton told me that he never stopped playing fingerpicking when at home. In fact he had just started to upload some videos at the internet under the pseudonym Pekka Paska just for fun - he choose to upload as a pseudonym because he wanted the viewer to concentrate on the music, not on the person playing. Below I insert one of his videos to show you that this fingerpicking wizard still knows how to strut his stuff - enjoy Ton playing a piece titled "Sweet Swinging Blues"
Up till now Ton has published 12 more videos, to be reached clicking here