Estas Tonne follows music — like his life — wherever it calls him, he says during a telephone interview from someplace near Pismo Beach in California.
“Who knows where?” he asks. “It’s sweet. The beach is here. The ocean is here. The sun is here. What else?”
The acoustic guitarist finished a tour of 10 cities in Bulgaria, Romania, Portugal, Israel, Belgium and Great Britain in October, then crossed the Atlantic the first of November to launch his first U.S. tour, “The Breath of Sound” tour.
Tonne will visit 26 cities in 11 states, stopping to perform his fusion of instrumental music that reflects classical, flamenco, Gypsy roots and Latin rhythms at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in the Music Recital Hall, 450 S. Mountain Ave., at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Tickets are $60 or $65 and can be purchased at estastonne2018.com, ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Southern Oregon singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peia Luzzi will share the stage with Tonne in Ashland; percussionist Michael Shrieve of Santana fame will sit in at Tonne’s show in Seattle.
Still relatively unknown in the U.S., Tonne, 42, sells out concerts in other places around the globe. The U.S. tour is just another part of his ongoing life experience, he says in a press release.
“Culturally speaking, it might be different than European or South American tours, but on a human level, it doesn’t matter where we play. We are just going with this flow, opening new worlds in a way. I am grateful for this experience.”
Born in the Ukraine, Tonne studied classical guitar for seven years. He moved to Israel with his parents when he was 15 and lived there for 11 years. During that time, he put his guitar aside.
“I had to do something else,” he says in the press release. “I didn’t have a strong connection with the instrument or the music.”
It was time taken to find himself. Time to look for his place in life.
“Then I went to New York City and started a new life there,” he says during the telephone conversation. “I moved there one week after Sept. 11 and stayed for a year performing as a street musician.”
His playing became completely different in interest. Since he didn’t finish formal training, his comprehension of music was different than the structured classical instruction given him. It became based on emotions.
“And that was the last time I was in one place for a year,” Tonne says. “That’s been 17 years ago. You can imagine what kind of life I’ve got. Some of us have to travel, to explore, to experiment, to touch different cultures. It probably has something to do with musical connections. I had to go to India, Mexico, South America and all over Europe and Russia. Soul expansion happens when we travel. I am still doing it because it feels right. That’s my life.
“I don’t really have one country anymore,” he says.
An independent recording artist with many albums and singles to his credit, Tonne appreciates not being dictated by a corporate record label.
“We do everything ourselves, the recording and the promotion, completely independent, nobody telling us what to do,” he says. “The sound engineer I record with also is the sound engineer for the 2018 tour, and we do what we feel. The recordings are synchronistically improvised.”
Tonne’s last album, a live recording, is from his 2017 international tour. He and his engineer record when they think the time is right to present something with the current momentum.
“The music changes us, and the attitude evolves,” Tonne says. “I don’t play pieces anymore. The music is like bubbles, and I have to capture them because I never know how they will go out.
“All of those little stories I used to play that were formed while traveling countless places and countries, you can’t call them songs, somehow started to combine into longer trips. They are trips because they are not about preparation, but about having no expectations.
“It’s what they are now, but they’ll probably be different in a year from now.”