Many Roanoke Valley rock music fans know Daniel Burton, the man on the electric bass guitar for Salem-based Mad Iguanas. Now, classical music fans are getting a taste of what Burton can do on an acoustic instrument.
Burton, 29, graduated from Radford University last year with a degree in music, studying classical guitar under professor Robert Trent. This year, he is going to be part of the university’s 16th Annual International Guitar Festival. Six-string masters from around the world — and Salem — will perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the university’s Covington Center for Visual and Performing Arts.
Gray Duo, Adam Holzman, Huy Thanh Nguyen, Loncar Duo and Saigon Guitar Quartet are scheduled to play the event. Every year, members of Radford University’s Southwest Virginia Classical Guitar Society select a Radford alumnus from a list that Trent compiles. This year, they chose Burton.
Burton, who has been a president of the society and has worked to help organize the festival, said he was shocked when Trent asked him to play.
“That’s very humbling to be voted by my peers,” Burton said. “They respect me enough as a musician to come and play at their festival.”
Trent, in an email exchange, wrote that Burton was a stellar student who in 2015 was part of the RU Honors Guitar Quartet, which accompanied Trent on a six-city tour of Brazil.
“We are proud to have him perform on the RU International Guitar Festival’s ‘Alumni Showcase,’ ” Trent wrote.
Burton said he is planning to play a Bach prelude, and a more modern number, “Andecy,” by Andrew York, in his 6:15 p.m. Saturday performance.
His other gig keeps him pretty busy, too. The Mad Iguanas, a jam band with lots of original music, have built a steady and fun following in seven years together. The Iguanas, with Burton’s brother, Foster Burton, up front on vocals and guitar, have gigs April 14 at Billy’s Barn in Salem and April 29 at Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill in Roanoke. Daniel Burton has a solo classical guitar gig April 16 at Parkway Brewing Co. in Salem, among a number of venues he plays with his nylon string guitar.
The two genres give him balance, he said.
“This classical stuff is so intricate, and it’s a puzzle, and it’s just so intriguing in that form,” said Burton, who also teaches at Blacksburg’s Renaissance Music Academy. “Then again, it’s so complicated that it can kind of wear you down. That’s when the Mad Iguanas is really a release for me. As a bassist, I’m sitting back in the pocket and listening to [lead guitarist] Henry [Lazenby] and Foster do their thing. That’s when I really get to relax.
“The classical stuff really has improved my musicianship by leaps and bounds with the guitar and bass. I’m biased to the guitar, because there’s so much there. There’s just six strings, but there’s a lot to do on those six strings.
“It’s going to be a lifelong thing. That’s with any instrument. I’m excited to keep on keeping on.”