Wichita Falls has no shortage of incredibly talented musicians in every genre from metal to punk and country to hip hop. Most of these musicians you can catch on any given weekend playing one of the great venues around town, but there are a few hidden gems that choose to play simply for the enjoyment of the craft. They may make an occasional appearance, but for the most part they stay out of the spotlight and play their instruments for the sole purpose of personal fulfillment. Among these isolated pickers we find Nick Ghanbari.
I first met Nick three years ago at the grand opening of 9th Street Studios, where he was tuning a piano to be used at the event. Tuning pianos is a pretty specific skill itself. “I help Becky the owner of 9th Street Studios, from time to time. We have been friends since high school,” Nick shared. “She lets me play an acoustic show there occasionally.” In fact, Nick will be performing there during the August Art Walk.
Music started for Nick at an early age. When he was about 4 years old his mother was trying to learn piano. “I would go out there when she was done practicing and start playing around on the keys and she noticed that I had a predisposition to it, so I started taking piano lessons until I was about twelve,” he reminisced. Then his lessons and musical advancement ceased until college, when he decided to pick up guitar and reignite his passion for learning music.
Following college, where Nick secured a degree in Music Education, he did the touring musician thing with local greats, Cody Shaw & And The Rhythm Boys and Johnny Cooper. He helped shape their sound by backing them with multiple instrumentation including piano, lap steel, and Rhodes. He spent his spare time building up a clientele for piano and guitar lessons which blossomed into what is now Flat 41 Music, a brick and mortar business located at 1923 9th St.
With a baby boy on the way (due in September), Nick confesses that he is well over the touring life and is quite content learning new techniques and teaching others how to play music. Ghanbari says that he will continue to do the occasional solo gig, but has no interest in performing with a band. As mentioned, he will be performing at 9th Street Studios during the August 1st After Hours Art Walk on an extremely unique instrument called the Chapman Stick.
The Chapman Stick is not an easy instrument to play. Developed in 1969 by jazz guitarist, Emmett Chapman, the Stick has 8 different models which are 8, 10, and 12 string electric instruments that are set up to play bass lines and melody and played using a two-hand tapping technique. It could be considered a mash up of keys, guitar, and a percussive instrument. Typically, one hand plays the melody on the treble strings and the other plays rhythm on the bass strings. It has been used by support musicians for bands Pink Floyd and Yes, and many others.
Nick received a Chapman Stick from his mother as a college graduation gift in 2006. It sat for years before he decided to pick it up and started learning to play it. He is now prepared to present it in a public performance on August 1st at 9th Street Studios, where he will be playing famous and familiar songs that will provide the listener with a visual and audible experience that they will not find anywhere else in town.
If you are looking to learn how to play an instrument or seeking an instructor for your children, pay Flat 41 a visit. If you are looking to be humbled as a musician or seeking some lively and interesting entertainment, attend the August Art Walk and swing by 9th Street Studios for Nick’s live performance on the Chapman Stick.