Vin Downes began studying guitar at the age of eleven. His early interests were in electric guitar, but this all changed when he heard the opening notes of David Cullen’s “Along the Way” on a Windham Hill Records guitar sampler. He immediately immersed himself in the fingerstyle music of Will Ackerman, Michael Hedges, David Cullen and Leo Kottke. He packed up his electric guitars, bought a 1974 Martin and never looked back.
Greatly influenced by the music of artists on Windham Hill Records in the late 1980's, Downes furthered his interest of fingerstyle technique and composition by earning a degree in classical guitar performance and music education from William Paterson University. While at WPU, he studied classical composition and had several of his compositions performed by soloists and ensembles, including the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Helix Ensemble and members of the Composer’s Guild of New Jersey.
Downes has also studied and performed Indian tabla with Ustad Kadar Khan, Celtic Music at the Irish Arts Center of Manhattan, American roots music and has developed a love for jazz and all improvised music.
Downes’ first solo album, “Skies and Openings”, independently released in 2007, was a mix of eleven songs with Americana, celtic and jazz influences. The song “So She Spins” was an award winner in the Great American Song Contest. Four songs from the album were licensed by PBS and included in the soundtrack of three episodes of the Roadtrip Nation Series. “Pen City Rag” was licensed and placed in the soundtrack of Phillip Gardiner’s film “The Stone”.
His second independent release in 2011, “What Falls Away”, was primarily a solo guitar record. Within the songs on this album, the listener can hear the development of Downes’ own distinctive voice as a composer. Here he returned to his new age roots by using alternate tunings and expressing a wider compositional palette. Once again, PBS licensed a song, “Glad Rags”, for use in the Roadtrip Nation soundtrack.
His newest album, “Unlike the Stars”, is a musical dream come true for Vin Downes. It has given him the opportunity to write and record with Grammy Award winning producer Will Ackerman and co-producer/engineer Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios. Guests Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton, Eugene Friesen, Tony Levin and David Watson join Downes on this CD consisting of eleven songs. These songs are emotional, expressive and show off Downes’ musical voice.
“Vin Downes is such a brilliant guitarist and such a heart-felt composer that it leaves little room for the producer to do much except try to convince himself that he was indispensible. I wasn’t. Vin is a consummate player who draws upon a wide range of styles. The marvelous thing is that his musical voice is unique enough and powerful enough to hold these different threads together seamlessly. His abilities as a player create an even broader palate from which to draw in his performances. This is as impressive a recording as one could hope for.” ~ Will Ackerman
Vin Downes is a Riverwide Records recording artist.