Guitar Center’s Guitarmageddon winner Michael Kelsey will perform his own blend of strummed and tapped acoustic-guitar music at the Egyptian Theatre
Guitar Center's Guitarmageddon winner Michael Kelsey will perform his own blend of strummed and tapped acoustic-guitar music at the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, May 17. Kelsey, a self-proclaimed introvert, said music is a way for him to speak and express his emotions. (Courtesy of Michael Kelsey)
Guitarist Michael Kelsey grew up watching his mother play guitar, but she wasn't the catalyst that caused him to pick up the instrument himself.

"I wanted to be a drummer but the guitar seemed to be the perfect instrument

to write songs," Kelsey said during an email interview with The Park Record. "It had chords, melody, groove and dynamics. I was hooked."

Kelsey even went so far as to make his own guitar out of a cigar box before getting his own real instrument. And after playing electric guitar and bass in multiple bands, he began working with an acoustic guitar.

"I always liked the idea of performing solo," he said. "The acoustic guitar is great for that. It has the lows, the highs and percussion."

Kelsey, known for his unique way of blending strumming with tapping and round-about chords, will perform at the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, May 17, at 8 p.m.

The show will feature Kelsey and his trusty Taylor 615, he said.

"My big jumbo-body guitar has more area to discover new sounds," Kelsey explained. "I think the way a guitar feels around your neck is important. I feel bonded with the jumbo guitar. It's the perfect dance partner."

The musician developed his playing style through experimentation.

"I am always in discovery mode," Kelsey said. "It is what I find interesting about music. The same song could make you feel many different moods by manipulating the performance. [And] I never get tired of making music because I just change it into

something that inspires me."

The music he makes also has inspired others. Throughout his career, Kelsey has won Guitar Center's "Guitarmageddon" competition and was a finalist in Guitar Player Magazine's nationals.

"Contests are a great way to get exposure when you're one of those people

who spends more time working on their craft rather than their social networking skills," Kelsey said. "[Contests] allow the introverts to have a chance to speak up."

Introversion is something Kelsey is familiar with. Throughout his life, he's relied on his music, which includes seven CD, to express his emotions.

But expression isn't the only thing music can do for people. It can also help spark creativity in children. That's why Kelsey has developed some school programs and outreach sessions.

"The main message I push in the school programs is nurturing creativity," he said. "I use music because that is my element. It is my passion.

"I like getting to the spirit of music making that is in all of us," Kelsey said. "I try to get their minds spinning in creative ways of expressing through sound."

Continuing his musical output, the guitarist recently released the album "Lessons While Dreaming."

"[The title] is a line from one of the songs on the CD about moving more intuitively through life," he said. "I like to live that way and the songs tend to get written that way as well so I thought the title was fitting."

Kelsey, who has toured with Dishwalla and Blind Melon and has shared the stage with Santana, Steve Vai and Eric Clapton, last played Park City two years ago.

He is looking forward to the Saturday performance, which will be a mix of art and entertainment.

"I play in many different settings," he said. "When I come to the Egyptian Theatre I know I have a captive listening audience so I [will] play with their imagination through sound and interact with the them.

"If there was a dance floor, I would make sounds to move to," Kelsey said. "I like getting a strategy for how I want the night to go but I also keep myself open to the surroundings and try to shape the evening into a customized experience."

The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present guitarist Michael Kelsey on Saturday, May 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $28 and are available by visiting www.parkcityshows.com .