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Acoustic Guitar Summit returns to Walters stage

Trio members Hanson, Robb, Smith each have their own musical story.

COURTESY PHOTO - Doug Smith, Terry Robb and Mark Hanson are the Acoustic Guitar Summit. Catch them at the Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro on Friday, Oct. 7.With a love for all things music, Mark Hanson moved to Portland in 1994. By 1995, the Minnesotan guitar player had released a Christmas CD.

Not many people in town knew who he was quite yet, so Hanson called some friends in the area for some help. Hanson, Doug Smith, Terry Robb and Paul Chasman brought their fan bases together for a holiday concert that quickly became a city tradition.

Thus, the Acoustic Guitar Summit was born.

Although Chasman retired from the group in 2004 (he’s now a soloist and author), Hanson, Smith and Robb continue to play solo and group sets yearly and individually record albums. Known for their impressive performances, Grammy Award winners Hanson and Smith are joining Oregon Music Hall of Fame member Robb for an evening of blues, jazz, Hawaiian slack key and more at Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main Street, on Friday, Oct. 7.

The trio has quite a diverse background.

Hanson began learning to play piano and read music in the third grade. By the fifth, he was playing the clarinet. As a teenager in the 1960s, he was already playing in rock bands, influenced by the sounds of Peter, Paul & Mary and The Beatles. He didn’t just study music just in college — he studied music everywhere. Hanson remembers carrying paper into concerts and taking notes as musicians played.

“Simon & Garfunkel came into town, and my brother and I bought tickets immediately,” he said. “I brought my notepad into the concert and studied where fingers were going on the guitars. It was harder back then because YouTube wasn’t a thing.”

Today Hanson makes a living from writing educational guitar books and CDs — he’s authored over 30 of them. He’s also written a variety of articles that have appeared in magazines like Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Player and Fingerstyle Guitar.

Hanson recently received a call from a man living in Spain named Miguel Rivera. Rivera hails from Madrid, and learned how to play guitar from Hanson’s books. He’s now a YouTube hit, and garners nearly four million views for each video posted. In October, Hanson will leave the country to play on-stage with him.

The other members of Acoustic Guitar Summit are no stranger to playing in foreign locales.

Smith has toured several times in Japan and China. His original music has been heard on radio and TV stations throughout the world, including CNN, ESPN, E’s “True Hollywood Story,” The Discovery Channel and more.

He currently records for Solid Air Records, has over a dozen CDs to his credit, and lives and teaches in Vancouver, Wash. He picked up his Grammy Award in 2005, along with 11 other great guitarists, including Hanson, for his contribution to the Henry Mancini tribute CD “Pink Guitar,” which won in the category of Best Pop Instrumental CD.

Robb has long been considered one of the top acoustic blues guitarists — his lightning fast finger-picking style and ability have wowed audiences worldwide and earned him international acclaim. Born in British Columbia, he was raised in the United States and currently lives in Portland.

In 2011, after winning the Muddy award for Best Acoustic Guitar for an 19 consecutive years, the Cascade Blues Association honored him with a namesake award — the “Terry Robb Acoustic Guitar Muddy Award," which is given to a guitarist from the northwest region every year. Absorbing music from ragtime to country swing to free jazz, Robb's foundation is the blues, but his influences and music are diverse. He tours Europe every year, traveling to venues in Germany and Italy.

When the three come together for shows, they take special care to make sure the audience does too.

“We love playing at the Walters. We always have a good, enthusiastic crowd — often selling out,” said Hanson. “The sound and lights are first rate, and they make us very comfortable there.”

If you go

The acoustically curious can catch the Acoustic Guitar Summit on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro.

Advance tickets are $18; $22 at the door.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com, or through the Walters box office at 503-615-3485 before and the day of the show.