Speaking the magic language of music

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Andrej Kurti, right, with friends and fellow musicians, Rodney Harrington, left, and the legendary James Burton.

Speaking the magic language of music

 We all have dreams based on our likes and talents.

You may dream to see your favorite sports team in action.

Some may dream of traversing the world on vacation.

A young man from Belgrade, Serbia, (in Europe) may dream of playing on stage with Queen, or the Eagles or the Monkees.

Wait…why would someone from Europe want to play with those guys?

They’re American legends!

Queen guitarist Brian May, left, with Andrej Kurti, professor
of violin at NSU, performed together in Nashville at
James Burton’s fundraiser. Kurti photo

Well, if your life and livelihood is the violin, and on occasion the fiddle, performing on stage with some of the most talented musicians of their, or any time, is a dream come true.

Andrej Kurti is a professor of classical violin at Northwestern State University and performs locally with Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs. It was through this relationship that his dream came true last week.

Kurti was introduced to legendary guitarist James Burton through Rodney Harrington, aka Johnny Earthquake. Kurti recently performed a concert in Natchitoches of all the songs on his new classical CD.

“Mr. Burton called Rodney and said he was coming to the concert. I saw him in the crowd and couldn’t let the opportunity pass to acknowledge him and thank him for attending,” Kurti said. Three days later Burton invited him to perform in Nashville Nov. 12.

Kurti with Sammy Hagar of Van Halen

Kurti said Burton’s first words to him were “Where’s my favorite Russian?” Kurti laughs, “When you get a call from Mr. Burton and he asks you to come play with him, I really didn’t care if he thought I was from Mars! My answer would always be yes!”

“The concert that Andre performed at in Nashville Nov. 14 was the ‘James Burton and Friends’ concert to benefit the James Burton Foundation. The Foundation is an organization formed by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Elvis Presley’s guitarist, James Burton, with its sole purpose to purchase guitars and provide free guitars for schools, Children’s Hospitals, Veterans’ Hospitals and others,” said Harrington. Over the past several years, the Foundation has donated literally thousands of guitars.

“These were elite musicians,” Kurti said. “I felt like Mickey Mouse had invited me to Disneyland! I got to see a lot of my heroes from growing up.” Kurti’s musical heroesinclude Brian May, lead guitarist for the rock band Queen.

Kurti’s daughter, Ana Olivia, and wife, Sofia
Tchetchelashvili, got to share
his dream experience. They
even got a photo opportunity
with Brian May.

Being on stage practicing and performing with him was a once in a lifetime experience.

“I was really very excited,” Kurti said. “We performed ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ (From: ‘A Day at the Races’ (1976) and then did a solo of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (by JohnDenver).

“I was so proud of the opportunity my brother and fellow member of Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, Andrej, had to perform with all of those superstars and world-class musicians at the James Burton and Friends Nashville concert,” Harrington said.

Kurti also shared the stage with Micky Dolenz, the iconic vocalist and drummer from the 1960s band the “Monkees,” vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Sammy Hagar, Joe Walsh, Marty Haggard and more and held his own among the greatest in the music industry.

“Again, all of the musicians there were super complimentary of Andrej and it was obvious and apparent that he belonged on stage with them and didn’t have to take a back seat to any of them. I know that the folks back in Natchitoches and at NSU would have been proud as well,” Harrington said.

Kurti met and performed
with another of his childhood
idols, Micky Dolenz of
the Monkees.

James Burton was highly complementary of Andrej as well. “I love Andrej and was excited to have him be a part of the show,” he said. “One of the greatest things about Andrej is his versatility. He can play a complicated classical piece one minute and a Charlie Daniels’ tune the next. Everyone on the show loved him.”

Kurti said that was his greatest compliment. “As someone not born here to have the opportunity to play with them was amazing. One thing I really enjoyed, just being among these celebrities, was finding out they were all really nice people.”

Kurti laughs again at the mention of turning his violin into a fiddle. “When I first came to America, someone asked me if I had a fiddle in my case. I said I had a violin. I didn’t know it was the same instrument.”

Music really is a language of its  own.

It’s universal across the planet and for Kurti, it is magic.

Kurti, right, performs with Queen lead guitarist Brian May.

All the musicians at the Nashville concert performed free to support Burton and the Foundation. There will be a James Burton Rockin’ Christmas Concert at Margaritaville Casino in Bossier City Dec. 21 featuring, along with Burton, Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs, Wayne Toups, Jo-El Sonnier, and of course, Andrej Kurti on fiddle, and other surprise guests as well.