Victor Samalot ~ Full-Time Guitar Pro

Victor Samalot

Victor Samalot

Victor Samalot is an amazing guitar player, who is also a composer and music producer. As I researched Victor before our interview, I became a big fan. Victor Samalot specializes in jazz, Latin and acoustic rock, but I’ll bet he can play anything!

I asked Victor to tell me about two of his recent hit singles: March In The Woods and Off to Arizona. Victor told me that March In The Woods is an improv: “I composed and recorded this song ‘on the spot.’ The song just came into my head and I used an RC-2 Boss Looper to simultaneously record the guitar playing and layer other parts. Down the road, I may rearrange it and make into a different song. Right now, I’m happy with the way it came out.”

Victor Samalot originally wrote the song Off to Arizona while still with his band Rare Blend: “My wife, Bobbi Holt, and I were inspired after a trip to Arizona. It’s so beautiful out there! I was inspired to write this song on acoustic guitar.”

Victor co-founded Rare Blend with his wife Bobbi back in 1994: “We put together an album Cinefusion, just the two of us. I played guitar and bass. She played keyboards and bass as well. In 1998, we added to members and put out five CDs. The last CD was called Sessions, and we released it in 2009. We had a nice run, from 1994 to 2010. We played a lot of great gigs, including jazz festivals, and we opened for some national acts.

Wow! Rare Blend played together for 16 years. What was their secret to such longevity? “We came out with some really good ideas, when we got together and jammed. We’d bounce ideas off each other. That’s the way we’d put songs together, from jam sessions. We’d arrange them, and when it was time to record – Boom! It was a nice run. After 2010, we just got burnt out.

Victor Samalot and Rare Blend

Victor Samalot and Rare Blend

Why go solo? Victor told me, “It was just something different that I wanted to do. Play guitar by myself. It was challenging, but I kept doing it. I did some writing and some cover songs fashioned in my style. It’s been five years now, and it’s going pretty well.”

Because Victor Samalot is such a talented guitar player, I assumed that he had years of training. I was partially right. Victor says: “I’m pretty much self-taught. I did take guitar lessons for about 6-7 years. I also went through all the Mel Bay books. All those guitar players out there, I’m sure they’ve heard of Mel Bay guitar books. I learn a lot by ear as well. Nowadays, with YouTube, I learn a lot by listening to other musicians.”

Who are Victor Samalot’s music influences? “I started listening to the classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, The Police, Yes and Thin Lizzy. As for guitar players, Carlos Santana is one of my favorites. Craig Chaquico, one of the guitarists from Jefferson Starship, is one of my favorites as well. Of course there’s also Al Di Meola, Jeff Beck, Phil Keaggy, George Benson, Jose Feliciano, Andy Summers and Larry Carlton.”

Victor Samalot has made solo guitar playing a full-time career. He’s taken his playing beyond writing and selling music. He works all the angles. What advice does Victor Samalot have for other artists thinking about a solo career? “Practice and hone on your instrument. Try to learn some different styles and listen to different types of guitar players. Solo guitar musicians can gig any place, from a winery to a club as an opener to festivals and house concerts. A lot of my bread and butter, believe it or not, is made playing at restaurants and senior citizen homes.”

What’s up next for Victor Samalot? “In 2011, I put out a self-titled CD, a laid-back guitar CD with some Latin and light rock. My current project is a little more over powering. It’s going to have some more flair and cool beats, rhythm and percussion. I’m working with other artists too. I’m going to have to keep you informed about the release date.”

I look forward to the release of Victor Samalot’s next CD. Maybe we’ll do another interview!

The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Victor Samalot rehearsingVictor Samalot

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now