Passion is everything: an espresso with Kent Shores


April 7, 2022

Kent Shores is a guitarist, composer, band leader, producer and one of the faces of the well-known guitar learning platform Guitareo. We interviewed him to talk about the past, present and future.

> Ivano Rossato

What projects are you currently working on?
I currently have a trio that plays my original instrumental compositions. I’ve always been in love with the guitar trio format and I felt ready to start taking on composing for a trio. Performing in a trio means a lot of the heavy lifting is on the guitarist, playing melody, chords, and soloing. It’s been a fun challenge for me to play in a trio and keep each tune fresh and exciting. I used to always have a horn player or vocalist to add variety but now it’s all on me.
I am also in an instrumental surf band called the Tsunami Brothers. I have been writing some original music for that group and we are in the middle of recording an album. We’re hoping to have the album released in the next few months!
I’ve been focusing on teaching with Guitareo. It’s been a fun and challenging shift from mainly teaching 1-on-1 in-person private lessons to an exclusively online format. It’s been a rewarding experience and I’m looking forward to the future of Guitareo.

I love the freedom of jazz and fusion music. There really are no rules, it’s just a blank canvas to create what you want sonically, harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. It can be scary to have a clean slate, but there’s something wonderful about having no constraints on what you should or shouldn’t play. 

Which artists do you think have most influenced your style and the way you feel music?
Pat Metheny was a massive influence on my playing. I lost count of the number of times I’ve listened through the “Bright Size Life” album. I love Pat’s approach to music and composing. Such an inspiring musician. I’d also throw John Scofield in there too. I love how you can hear the rock and blues influence in his playing. He has that standard bebop language that comes out too. He always manages to fit in any style but still sounds like Sco no matter what.
My guitar teacher growing up, Bobby Cairns, was incredibly impactful on my playing. He taught a lot of guitarists in Edmonton where I grew up. He had such a wonderful chord vocabulary and knew the guitar better than anyone I’ve ever met. You could name any scale or any chord in any key and he’d effortlessly play them. He was a true master of the instrument and was an amazing educator. If I could play half as well as he did, I’d be very happy. I have a love of surf music as well. Hank Marvin is definitely one of my favourites. Such great melodic control and is so expressive in his playing.
Rock, jazz, grunge, written, improvised… is there a “musical dimension” in which you feel you are particularly comfortable in playing and composing?
I’ve been fortunate enough to play in many bands over the years spanning a wide variety of genres. Polka, R&B, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Carnatic Music, etc. All those genres tend to make an appearance in my compositions even if I don’t mean to include them. I love the freedom of jazz and fusion music. There really are no rules, it’s just a blank canvas to create what you want sonically, harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. It can be scary to have a clean slate, but there’s something wonderful about having no constraints on what you should or shouldn’t play.
Thanks to the Web, a young musician nowadays can access thousands of different resources to learn how to play his instrument. What kind of advice would you give to that young musician?
It really is endless what you can learn out there. I think just taking in as much as you can. Try styles you aren’t familiar with or learn new techniques you’ve never done. Be fearless and soak up as much information as you can. You have a lifetime to sort it all out, so just keep learning. I’d also suggest getting advice from the experts as much as you can. In Guitareo, we offer live Q&A’s for our students so you can get questions answered by those who are further along their guitar journey. I think anything like that has so much value for students. 
…and, speaking of “didactic effectiveness”, among those thousands of contents, which feature do you think differentiates between good content and mediocre ones?
Passion is everything. Anyone can teach you what a major scale is or how to play a D chord. That’s been set in stone for many years and isn’t changing anytime soon. Great content makes you want to pick up your instrument and play. That’s the only thing that matters. It doesn’t even have to be direct teaching. I’ve watched so many performances that make me want to get my guitar and play. That is equally as valuable as being taught a specific technique or scale. 
Through the collaboration with Guitareo you have the opportunity to analyze hundreds of compositions. In your opinion, what are the ingredients that make a riff or a chord progression something legendary and brilliant?
Good music makes you feel something. It can be just a few notes or a few simple chords or it can be something more complex. I don’t know if the technical side of things makes much of an impact. I’ve heard incredibly complex pieces that move me and I’ve also had simple 3 or 4 chord songs do the same thing. All great artists impart a piece of themselves into their music, so you can have a shared experience with them. It can also remind you of a certain time in your life, or of a certain person, or place. It’s really magical when that happens. 
What is your secret dream?
As an educator, I am really looking forward to the future with Guitareo. Creating more lessons myself and bringing in more amazing guest instructors to teach. I love the idea of having a global community of guitar enthusiasts and guitar nerds all in one place where we each grow together and share our love of the instrument. I am always inspired when I meet musicians in their later years who are still excited to pick it up and play. I hope to still have that joy 30, 40, 50, years from now. I hope to still be playing and writing with the same enthusiasm as I have now.
Passion is everything: an espresso with Kent Shores copyright Jazzespresso 2022.
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