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The Guitar Faces of Leif Vollebekk: A Study

Posted by Emily Hill / March 27, 2013


It's hard to take your eyes off Leif Vollebekk. He's got a great mustache. And one helluva smile. But most importantly, he makes a great guitar face.

Vollebekk played to a packed house at Cabaret de Mile End this past Saturday. He was adorably surprised by the turn out. "Wow. There are people here." He climbed on stage with a bottle of red wine."The last time we played Montreal was two years ago, at Casa. Thanks to those who came...both of you."

Accompanied by a pump organ, a steel guitar, stand up bass, and saxophone, the musicians silenced the bar chatter with their immense sound. Unlike most shows where the din of voices is drowned by speaker volume, Vollebekk's soft guitar strumming willed the audience to lean in. When things got chatty between songs, the crowd shhh'ed each other. There's no question Vollebekk's music is enchanting - but on stage it takes on a whole new charm. His expressiveness is so emotive, it amplifies the heartbreak and exultation in each strum. And that's what makes the guitar faces so consequential: At times hilarious, others poignant - Vollebekk's expressions give the audience a window into the effort and abandon of each plucked string.

Although his guitar faces are far too nuanced and varied to succinctly categorize, here are the fundamentals:

The Wince
So good, it hurts.Thumbnail image for Vollebekk_wince2.jpg

The Scrunch
Usually accompanied by a head bob, neck roll, or other charming convulsion.Vollebekk_scrunch.jpg

The Cheshire
Arguably a subcategory of the wince. But he's got such great teeth, they clearly deserve a category of their own.Vollebekk_cheshire2_Exclaim.jpg

The Wail
Will incite goosebumps, or beer spillage - possible fainting.Vollebekk_wail.jpg

See more wincing, wailing guitar-face action in this video from Exclaim. What other classifications can you identify? :

Make sure to put the next Vollebekk show on your calendar. You can find his live dates here.
Photos (top to bottom) courtesy of Steve Asenjo, Renaud Sakelaris via, Dominick Mastrangelo via Brooklyn Vegan, and Exclaim.TV.



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