(more on Rhett Butler at http://www.rhettbutler.org)
If you have never had the pleasure of watching Rhett Butler play the guitar, you are missing out on one of the most unusual guitar performances you will ever see. The great sound of the music aside, Rhett has a unique style of playing that you’ve likely never seen before, and will want to see again and again.
Rhett Butler–and yes, that’s his real name–is a gentleman, humanitarian, talented artist, and is just Good People in general. I first had the pleasure of watching him perform at Bass Hall a year or two back, and have never seen anything like him before or since. He uses something of a cross between clawhammer and finger-picking on the neck of the guitar itself, rather than strumming the area over the sound-hole. It’s truly a sight to see, and hearing him at Twilight Thursdays in the park was a great way to spend an evening with the family.
Granted some may see this as stretching the bounds of Steampunk a bit, but one must consider that in order for the genre to remain viable in the modern world, it must be adaptable to modern times. That said, the guitars were mostly acoustic, the setting was in front of an historic schoolhouse built, rebuilt, and rebuilt again, all within in the Victorian Age. After it burned in the early 1880’s, it was rebuilt into the Bedford College, an elementary and high school academy. In 1893 that building too was destroyed by fire and local citizens raised funds for a new elementary school nearby. It was replaced in 1915 by a 2-story brick schoolhouse. And the guitarist’s name is Rhett Butler, perhaps the most famous fictional male Civil War character to ever exist. So there’s your Steampunk Cred, right there.
Rhett doesn’t sing in concert. He freely admits that early on, but he gives an engaging narrative to each piece, explaining a little of the history behind it in a humorous, sometimes self-depricating way. You learn much of the man and the musician, much more than mere lyrics would divulge. His musical life seems intertwined with the fate of his brother, Ashley, who to this day battles cancer. Rhett’s songs are as much a way for him to express his love for his family as they are a vehicle to drive funding to fight the cancer. Even recently, Rhett spent $250,000 to put his brother through an experimental new treatment program in Israel. Considering Rhett is a local artist with limited exposure, this was more than just a drop in the bucket, it was likely the entire bucket and then some.
But that’s the kind of person he is, and you feel that in the music. You feel it in the way he plays, and in the narrative he gives about each story. He doesn’t appear to want the fame, the riches, or the musician’s lifestyle… he wants his brother to live, and he wants to lose himself in the music. If some good-hearted people want to throw some cash his way to help pay for his brother’s cancer treatments, all the better.
Rhett plays local venues in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas constantly, and you can find out more about him, as well as order his works by visiting his website, http://www.rhettbutler.org
Because of his incredibly unique talent, beautiful craftsmanship of music, fine choice of acoustic instrument, his real-life Steampunk name, his choice of setting in giving a FREE concert, and the incredible selflessness behind his works, I cannot help but give Rhett’s concert a full 300 out of 300psi, the highest rating the Steam-O-Meter can give. Ladies and gentlemen, you would be doing yourself a great disservice not to see Rhett at the next earliest opportunity possible.