Internationally renowned guitarist Peppino D’Agostino will make his return to the Benicia Historical Museum on Saturday. Fresh off the release of his newest album “Penumbra,” the Sicilian-born musician is coming off more than three decades as an acclaimed acoustic guitar player. He has performed in 26 countries, worked with other greats like Tommy Emmanuel and Leo Kottke and was even named Best Acoustic Guitarist by readers of Guitar Player magazine in 2007.
Before moving to Benicia in the ‘80s, D’Agostino grew up in Torino, Italy where he was drawn to music by his cousin.
“I began playing guitar at the age of 10 when I heard my cousin Peppino (yes, same name) playing in a church,” he said. “I got a few lessons from him, and then I embarked on a journey of self-study and further exploration on the guitar and in music that continues today. ”
Early on, D’Agostino was influenced by The Beatles and Italian pop songs and later by electric guitarists like Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin.
“After that first phase I discovered the acoustic guitar by listening to musicians such as Leo Kottke and John Renbourn,” he said. “Then I fell in love with Brazilian music, classical music (and) improvised music. Now I listen to everything from Bach, Mozart, Piazzolla and even some pop artists.”
D’Agostino believes that music can be a force for good and appreciates the stripped-down nature of the acoustic guitar.
“Music helps us feel human again and lift all of us to a better state of mind and open our hearts to beauty and emotions,” he said. “Making music on an acoustic guitar is special because the sounds is essentially produced by your fingers in contact with the fretboard and then amplified by a wooden sound box without any special effects or pedals. It's real, beautiful and captivating. ”
Since living in Benicia, D’Agostino has gotten to know a wide variety of talented local musicians, including Stef Burns, an electric guitarist who has worked with Alice Cooper and Huey Lewis and the News; Jeff Campitelli, a drummer for guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani; Annabelle Marie, the director of the choir group VOENA; and many more.
“It's amazing to have so many people involved in music in a relatively small town,” D’Agostino said. “The Dunlop Company, one of the most well-known music accessories factories in the world is in town, as is Masaki Liu at Onewaystudio who's one of the best sound engineer that I ever met, and AnneMarie Martins who's one of the best booking agents in the business.”
He has also said that whether playing in a small town in America or a larger venue in Italy, he feels the warmth of the audience.
“In both countries I have family, friends and fans that makes me feel at home when I perform,” he said.
D’Agostino has recorded several albums and toured extensively for the past few decades while still finding room for other projects. He recently completed the score for a documentary titled “Journey to Baja: A Tale of Three Travelers,” about gray whales, elephant seals and brown pelicans. The documentary will be shown at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“It was a wonderful experience to support with my music such a great American institution that works to protect ocean life for future generations,” he said.
D’Agostino is thrilled to be playing at the museum again, and he hinted that there may be surprise guests. One of the confirmed collaborators for a few songs will be D’Agostino’s friend Steve Olsen.
“He plays pedal steel guitar and violin beautifully,” he said.
The concert will be held at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 30 in Stone Hall at the Benicia Historical Museum, located at 2060 Camel Road. Doors open at 7 p.m., and there will be a ho-host bar. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at BrownPaperTickets.com or at the museum gift shop, Wednesdays through Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (707) 745-5435.