Going to a Trace Bundy show is like going to a family dinner that you actually want to be at. The first time I listened to Trace Bundy’s music was in college. A friend had a copy of his “Adapt” CD and I used to play it when I needed to relax. This was the 3rd time I have seen Trace perform. The first was at a small church in Boulder and the 2nd was last year at his 2nd annual Holiday Show at the Boulder Theater. It really wasn’t until I saw him in concert that I truly understood how impressive this guy is! Whether playing in front of a few people or a packed theater, he always makes the audience feel as though they are all just hanging out in his living room, where he is recounting his latest adventure or showing us the newest thing he’s been playing around with on his guitar.
The Jaden Carlson Trio opened up the show. The trio is comprised of Scott Messersmith and Garrett Sayers from the Motet and 10-year old Jaden Carlson on vocals and acoustic guitar. Ten years old! A collective jaw-drop came over the crowd as soon as soon as Jaden started playing. It’s difficult for anyone to upstage seasoned and accomplished musicians from the Motet, but it was clear that almost all eyes and ears were fixed upon Jaden. During her 10 song set, she played several songs she had written herself, displaying a lyrical and musical maturity one would expect from someone three-times her senior. With an incredible stage presence, depth, and a natural ear for music, this girl has a very bright future ahead of her. The Trio finished their set to a standing ovation from the crowd and left us all asking ourselves, “What were we all doing when we were 10?”
After a brief set change, acoustic guitar master, Trace Bundy, took the stage. Last year, he performed at the Boulder Theater, literally right after the birth of his firstborn son, Sawyer. This year, he came bounding out on the stage, presenting a very adorable and comfortable Sawyer in a moment reminiscent of the Lion King. After Sawyer left the stage, Trace opened up with a brand new song, inspired by one of his trips to Africa. Then, Violinist, Aubrea Alford joined him to perform a beautiful rendition of “O’ Holy Night.” Aubrea accompanied Trace on several songs throughout the night. Through a joyful blend of storytelling, creative technology, and captivating talent, Trace was able to keep the audience engaged and excited throughout the entire show. During an intermission, he went backstage to pick the winner of the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.” The contestants got to come up on stage with Trace, where he presented the winner with an engraved trophy.
Trace “The Acoustic Ninja” Bundy grew up in Buena Vista Colorado and begun playing music at age 11. He later went on to become an Engineering Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Trace often combines these two skills on stage and always manages to amaze audiences, and even himself sometimes. He has become a master of capos, creative guitar, and integrating technology with natural-born talent. He can play songs backwards and loop them forward, reveling the original song. Through looping and fast fingers, it often sounds like he is playing several guitars at once. Him and Aubrea even played their own version of Stevie Wonders’ “Superstition” through a guitar and violin app on their iPhones! My favorite Trace Bundy song, “Joy & Sorrow,” features two guitars. The first guitar melody is played in the key of D-minor, which he then sets on a loop. The second guitar melody is played over the loop in the key of D-Major. He switches back and forth throughout the song creating something truly beautiful.
This is why it is difficult to place Trace Bundy into a genre. His music is complex but lovely; ethnic but familiar; serious but light. Maybe that’s why he is affectionately referred to as the “Acoustic Ninja.” You never know what he’s going to attack you with next. He doesn’t sing. He doesn’t need to- his guitars have a voice all their own. Trace Bundy is just as talented as any of the great rock legends, but you can tell right away that he isn’t out seeking fame or fortune. He is so modest that it is almost disarming when you watch him play. He loves his family, his charity work and travels, and creating beautiful music. What more could one ask for? He and his wife Becca have traveled all over the world together and have begun to take their son along with them. The close bond he shares with his family and their life experiences together inspire much of his music and it shines through during his performance.
Trace has released all five of his CD’s as an independent artist and I highly recommend checking them out and catching him perform the next time he comes around.