"1 Man 2 Guitars the title of Rodney Branigan's CD, is no exaggeration.
Another two handed player with a twist. Rodney calls his brand of music progressive folk fusion. He sometimes he plays two guitars at the same time or will play the body of the guitar like a drum.__Rodney started playing the guitar at the age of eight. His father noticed his ear for music and started teaching Rodney songs that he knew. At the age of eleven, Rodney started formal lessons, studying folk and classical styles and later would advance through blues, jazz, country, rock, and pop. At the age of 19, he started teaching formal lessons to students in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas.__Since then he has been travelling the United States from coast to coast, spreading the music that he has spent his life perfecting, relecting his musicianship and the unique style that he has developed over the course of several years of study.
"I had an engineer from Reno (Nev.) follow me around the country with his recording equipment and his RV. ... We did the whole United States in two months, then just took the best out of that and made an album out of it," Branigan said.
That approach resulted in more than 90 hours of recordings.
"It was ridiculous," Branigan laughed, "but it worked out. We ended up producing a good album."
Making a live album makes sense for a touring madman like the 28-year-old Branigan. The Amarillo native has spent the past five years criss-crossing the country with wife Erin and dog Asta, coming home for only a couple of days at a time.
The tour is on a short hiatus for Thanksgiving, but Branigan is still putting on his fourth annual post-holiday show tonight. He and Phoenix musician Justin Simison will perform beginning at 9 p.m. today at the Nat Ballroom, 604 S. Georgia St.
His brand of Americana-tinged progressive folk music and his trademark two-guitar playing abilities are drawing fans across the country.
"There are certain cities we've started make headway in. San Diego has been good for us this year. We just did a show in Reno in one of the casinos that was really packed. ... And Belleville, Ill., of all places, on the other side of the river from St. Louis.
"For some reason, we draw 300 people every time we're there, and it's a town of 40,000. The band Uncle Tupelo came out of there, so they're really stoked on music," Branigan said.
The nearly nonstop touring has, inevitably, led to changes for the singer, making his last album, 2001's "Broken Guitars," now sound out-of-date.
"I think I've done between 175 and 185 shows a year for the past four years. From that constant singing, my voice has gotten a lot stronger," Branigan said.
As has his songwriting, he said.
"It's just a more grown-up version of me, I guess. I'm writing about issues now that can affect everybody," Branigan said. "I'm getting better about writing about things that aren't controversial, necessarily, but potentially could be controversial. But I write about them ambiguously enough that you can look at them from both sides.
"That's too complicated," he joked. "You should just put that I'm writing rap music now."