It was a full house for two performances by comic and musician Chase Padgett on Saturday, Jan. 23, as the American came to perform for the Stettler Variety Showcase’s first show of 2016.
The 85-minute show features Padgett and his guitar, plus the six different personas he’s crafted over the past six years as he’s perfected his “Six Guitars” act. Each of the six personas comes with its own voice, views and musical styles, treating the audience to jazz, blues, rock, classical, folk and country styles of music.
Each of the six characters tells a story about music and how a love for music shaped the lives of each of them, bringing in moments of levity along with moments of weight.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” Padgett said during a break between his two performances. “I was doing a lot of music and improv, and I wanted to combine them.”
At the time, Padgett worked for Disney as a performer at the theme park in Orlando, Fla., an experience that helped give him discipline as a performer, but also made him realize that he had to stretch his limits.
“You learn a lot of control doing the same 20-minute show a thousand of times,” he explained. “I left the full-time job at Disney — and it was pretty cushy. I wanted to make sure I can do something scary and on my own.”
Six Guitars is Padgett’s first solo act since leaving Disney, and it’s taken him all over the continental United States and Canada, and to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. He’s also performed in South Korea, mostly to American ex-patriots teaching English, he said.
“My favourite (persona) is probably the blues, but it depends on the mood,” Padgett said, explaining that depending on the audience, his favourite persona can change. “Location plays a part, too.”
One of the things that surprised him was that the youngest of the genres, rock, doesn’t tend to resonate with the youngest members of the audience.
“Blues does well in most areas, but I think today’s youth finds rock a bit over-the-top,” Padgett said. “It was what rock was to me, when I was a kid.”
Padgett’s home-base is now in Portland, Ore., about as far from Florida as one can get while remaining in the continental United States. The reason for the move wasn’t because of his art, but was a side-effect of it.
“I met a girl while travelling,” Padgett said. “She is awesome.”
Life on the road as a performer has caused some difficulties, so for 2016, Padgett said he’s resolved to not spend nearly as much time away from home.
“I spent nine months not at home last year,” he said. “The longest stretch was four weeks, then three weeks, and then days here and there.”
Being on the road has opened Padgett’s eyes to the differences from where he is based and where he grew up.
“It’s an entirely different mode of living,” Padgett said. “You get better at it. You pack better. But you miss the oddest things, your own bed, your favourite shops, your coffee spot.”
Despite the challenges of being an on-the-road performer, Padgett wouldn’t trade it for that cushy Disney job that he left behind.
“This has been amazing,” he said. “The people you meet. The small-town people are really happy to see you, and they love what you bring.”