Tucson musician Domingo DeGrazia is honoring the memory of his late father, local artist Ted DeGrazia, with a concert Saturday at the Fox Theatre. Part of the yearlong celebration marking the centennial of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia’s birth, the show will feature the DeGrazia Guitar Band performing Spanish guitar blended with touches of flamenco, salsa, rock drum beats and other Latin rhythms.
The elder DeGrazia died of cancer in 1982, and proceeds from the concert will benefit the American Cancer Society.
In an e-mail interview Domingo DeGrazia, 34 – who also is an attorney specializing in juvenile law – discusses his father’s influence on his life, the three CDs he has in the works and how a waitress at one of their restaurant performances became the group’s violin player.
Question: How did you stumble into music?
Answer: I think I was born into music. I started playing piano at age 10 and picked up guitar and bass around age 12. I had only three formal lessons because the lessons had little to do with enjoying guitar and more to do with holding the guitar in a technically perfect posture. I have been writing my own music ever since. My whole family on my mom’s side are musicians and my dad played trumpet, so I literally grew up surrounded by music.
Why Spanish guitar?
I have always been drawn to Spanish guitar music. Spanish guitar music for me combines passion with exotic rhythmic flair. The music can have a strong danceable feel or convey an amazing depth of emotion. Also, the guitar techniques for the right-hand are often difficult to play, making it more enticing.
So you’re working on your new and third CD. Please tell me more about it.
The new Spanish guitar CD will be titled “Nuance” and should be out around July of 2009. It will be the same flavor as the “San Carlos” CD and will include guitar, violin, bass, drums and percussion. I’ve already started recording a few of the new songs and I am excited. Concertgoers can get a sneak peek at some of the new songs at our concert at the Fox. Expect the CD to be upbeat and exotic.
What about the Christmas CD? When will that be ready and what will it include?
I’ve had a lot of people asking for a Christmas CD. The Christmas CD will be ready November 2009 and will have traditional Christmas songs, with a little Spanish guitar flair. It will include “Carol of the Bells,” “Silent Night” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting).” I’m planning on some guest performances on that CD.
You’re also planning a classical CD with a member of your band, violinist Beth Daunis. How did the project come about?
I was introduced to Beth Daunis during a New Year’s performance. The owner of the restaurant asked if one of the servers who played violin could sit in with us on a song. I was hesitant, but I couldn’t really say “no” since the owner also hired us. Beth walked up with her violin and I asked if she could play in A minor. She said she could and we played a great song, improvised on the spot. She has been playing with us ever since. The guitar and violin CD should be out by the middle of 2009. Some of the songs that I write are too classical sounding or too folk sounding to be included on a Spanish guitar CD, but the songs are perfect for this CD.
So you’re a musician, lawyer, pilot and former motorcycle racer. Where does that sense of adventure come from and what other careers or pastimes would you like to conquer?
I’m not sure where my adventurous side came from. I started out as a bicycle stunt rider and later moved to motorcycles and before I graduated high school I had my pilot’s license. I’ve always been comfortable in high-pressure situations, so extreme sports felt natural to me. In recent years music and law have dominated my attention so I haven’t had time to pursue other passions. But I look forward to scuba diving, flying gliders, getting back into skiing.
Who were your music influences, and why?
I like well-written songs, from any genre. I started playing music in heavy rock bands so that music will always influence my songwriting. I’m also influenced by classical and folk musicians. To name a few bands I would say, Sepultura, Dream Theater, Jesse Cook, and (Andres) Segovia. I have a few thousand songs in my iPod.
What special treats do you have planned for the concert at the Fox?
We have fantastic musicians and a great stage show. Along with violin, drums, percussion and bass, we have a flamenco dancer coming to perform with us. Also, we have a beautiful stage setup and Allusion Studios is also bringing a DVD crew and they will be recording a live audio CD. The audience will also be naming a song for the new CD. It is a song that I haven’t had inspiration to name, so I thought it would be fun to have the audience name the song.
What do you think your dad would think of all the hoopla surrounding what would have been his 100th birthday?
I think he would be proud. This concert is part of a yearlong celebration the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is holding for him. My dad touched a lot of people with his art, and I think he would be honored that so many people are still celebrating his life and his art.
IF YOU GO
What: DeGrazia Centennial Concert featuring the DeGrazia Guitar Band
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress
Price: $25, $35, $50
Info: 624-1515, www.foxtucsontheatre.org