By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Amarillo-born guitar wunderkind Rodney Branigan is about to expand his already-global touring schedule with a major push.
But first, the singer-songwriter, best known for his technique of playing two guitars simultaneously, is coming home for a 10 p.m. Thursday show at Hoots Pub, 2424 Hobbs Road. Cover is $10.
"When I first started out, I spent five years on the road, living out of a van," Branigan said on the phone from his England home. "That's how I built most of my fan base in the US, and I'm trying to do the same thing with my international audience — that grassroots thing."
To that end, Branigan will hit the road full time in 2017, splitting his time between France, England, India, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere — but not, perhaps and for the first time in many years, back to the U.S.
"I try to come back (to the States) once a year, but it's so expensive to do. I've got my daughter and my family, so it's difficult to justify coming for more than three weeks, but it's hard to book a tour that finances that," Branigan said. "I may skip the U.S. next year, then come the following year for three months."
He's plenty busy elsewhere, showing off not only his dual-guitar slinging but also different colors of his music.
"I kind of change my genre when I play in France; it's more blues-rock now, and I'm getting some big gigs there now," he said. "I walked on a stage in Corsica and had 5,000 people watching me."
Indian audiences are more intrigued by the doubled guitars: "I didn't mean to, but a lot of the droning and chord progressions fit with Indian music," he said.
At home as a kid, Branigan said he dreamed about making a living making music — and, more so, of finding fame. He found something more important, he said.
"But when I started doing it internationally, it was an educational experience," he said. "One of the things that developed was a real strong sense of empathy. ...The way I'm seeing the world, I'm not a famous person sheltered from the common person. I've gotten to do tours of India and Japan, Estonia, Lithuania, and I get to see people on the ground level, the real people who live in those societies, not the high end.
"It's an interesting educational experience to see how the outside world thinks, how they live as we're having conversations as we sit around for dinner or drinks.
"It's been enlightening for me," he continued. "I get to meet people — minus the governments, minus the political process — and get to realize that people are the same wherever they're at. We all basically want the same thing; we want security for our families, you know, the normal things."
Now, "I couldn't ever see myself sitting in an office," he said, "or sitting in a studio teaching lessons. And I'd also like to give those experiences to my child.
"At the end of the day, I'd really like to finish life with an interesting story and a story that's viewed from a very wide-angle lens, not such a narrow gap in understanding."