Juan Manuel Ruiz tells about his new band and how to play Dire Straits acoustic tribute with a classical guitar. (video)

When the Spanish guitarist Juan Manuel Ruiz Pardo (one of the teachers for Blackbear Music International) formed The Ladywriters, he joined together two of his musical passions: the acoustic sound and the music of Dire Straits. Being the band a rare case in which the intensity inherent to rock music lives together with a capacity for lyricism and poetic emotion, and having the elegance of sound as one of their hallmarks, it was just logical to suppose that an acoustic setting would fit these songs perfectly. So it did.

The band had already been active for some years when the era of clonic tributes began. The temptation to follow that path never arouse. As musicians, the idea of contributing to creating a real interpretation of these songs from their point of view as musicians and artists that their audience might appreciate as well, thus giving a true artistic treatment to it, was the only way. With all due respect for clonic bands, and although that change might have gained them more gigs and recognition, that was simply not for them.

Of course, a Dire Straits acoustic tribute, some musical questions had to be answered in order to create an effective “translation” from the original sound (a lineup that approached symphonic rock in their last years) to a basic set of two acoustic guitars, bass and drums.

A major concern was to find a balanced point of fidelity to the original and effective adaptation to the acoustic resources. Namely, the guitar solos present two main features: lack of sustain and high notes that cannot be reached. The first one was solved by using a typical resource of acoustic guitar such as tremolo (fast repetition of notes to create the impression of a sustained note). The second was only a problem in one of the iconic moments of the “Sultans of Swing” final solo, and was simply substituted by a different riff. Lowering it one octave down was not an option, because it wuld have gone against the musical logic of  that passage.

Keyboard parts were carefully elaborated for the two guitars, such the intro of “Tunnel of love”. One particular case of effective use of the resources available was the popular riff of “Walk of life”. It was necessary to play both lines, since doing it with just one would sound too simple. But the rhythmic guitar was a must, so it could not be done on two guitars. Finally, a fingering that enabled the lead guitar to play both at the same time and the required some extra practice to master proved very useful.

Dire Straits acoustic tribute - The Ladywriters

The band

Juan Manuel Ruiz Pardo, guitar and lead voice
Guillermo Grau, acoustic guitar and backing vocals
Toni Marín, electric bass and backing vocals
Miguel Ángel Orengo, drums.