The terrain of Norman Liota’s musical imagination is as vast and varied as the landscape in which he tours. The man and his guitar travel well.
After graduating from York University’s music department and teaching high school, Norman abandoned the straight and narrow for the more adventurous life of an itinerant musician.
Originally trained as a classical guitarist – but cutting his teeth on virtually every idiom – Norman’s nimble fingers cover an expanse of open tunings, cascading harmonics, stunning techniques, rhythmic intensity and, of course, his dazzling classical guitar repertoire. Acclaimed as “one of the best acoustic guitarists ever” (Journal Pioneer, PEI), “Liota’s skills as a composer and vocalist are as formidable as his guitar virtuosity” (Chiliwack Progress Weekend, BC).
It is this glowing and growing reputation that has enabled Norman to travel far and wide, becoming a feature performer throughout North America. Norman’s songwriting has been said to have “an eloquence that invites the listener to share rather than be overwhelmed … placing Liota deservedly between James Taylor and Jackson Browne” (Stratford Beacon Herald, ON).Prior to his three independent recordings, he was the founding member and writer for world beat band, Still Life – a festival favourite with videos on MuchMusic. Always one for adventure, Norman decided to explore solo performance and touring.
Although Norman still often performs with back up musicians, his strength as a soloist is impressive. “Very few musicians ever attain the same level as Norman Liota … where they can walk onto stage and all by themselves, wow the crowd with such a mind blowing solo show – he gets sounds that you’d never expect from a guitar.” (Brandt Legge, Radio Taos, NM). Norman attributes such capabilities to an early ignorance.“As a kid I’d play whatever I heard on record or radio, never realizing or even thinking that it was more than one player”. Toward that end, Norman has become a rare breed of performer that makes one guitar sound like an entire band.
His music is infused with elements of folk, jazz, blues and classical – all synthesized to a sophisticated degree. His boundless creativity bespeaks a lifetime of discipline and discovery. He is the only performer known to write and perform on prepared guitar (i.e. the guitar is prepared beforehand by inserting objects like paper or plastic between the strings) while retaining a tonal centre. This distinctive technique allows Norman to elicit the most otherworldly sounds that consistently transfix audiences. “There is no question, the crowd was mesmerized … how rare indeed when an artist brings something totally new and different to the craft”, said Brian Gladstone, Winterfolk festival director, upon hearing Norman on prepared guitar.
One thing is certain – Norman’s music “will hold your attention like it hasn’t been held in a long time … through one great song after another.” (Hartland Observer, NB)