ENCINITAS — Guitar virtuoso Carl Verheyen has played to packed stadiums all over the world with Supertramp. On May 21, he’ll be entertaining locals with country and jazz guitarist Steve Trovato at a benefit concert for the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.
This will be Verheyen’s last appearance before the start of Supertramp’s 2011 tour through Canada, France and Monaco.
Last year Verheyen and Trovato performed at the museum for the first time. Verheyen’s sister-in-law, Linda McArdle, is vice president of the board.
Verheyen remembers being a fan of Travato’s before suggesting they collaborate. The relationship has worked out well. On May 21, concert goers can expect a broad-based performance that includes blues, rockabilly, jazz and chicken picking.
“Steve is widely known in the country music world, and as a jazz guitarist,” Verheyen explained. “I am mostly known as a blues rock guitarist. When we come together we play all kinds of music. We seem to have the same tastes.”
Verheyen said he began guitar at 11 in his hometown of Pasadena, Calif., visiting his friend’s house every afternoon to play his sister’s guitar. On his birthday, Verheyen’s parents gave him his own instrument.
“My parents were both musical and, more importantly, extremely supportive,” he recalls. “They drove me to band practice with my buddies. During high school and early college years they’d say, ‘You’d better have something you can fall back on.’”
Verheyen studied music at Pasadena City College for two years and took a handful of classes at the University of Massachusetts and Berklee College of Music. In the early days he’d play to small clubs in Newport Beach with crowds of 60 or so. In 1985, he was doing a recording session in Hollywood when an engineer, impressed with his talent, asked for his business card.
“I got a call that night saying they were auditioning guitarists for Supertramp,” he remembers. “The next morning I went down, but didn’t have time to prepare. I had a 9 a.m. jingle session to do and went straight over to the audition.”
Verheyen was the 18th guitarist scheduled to try out. When he saw one of his guitar heroes exit the audition as he was arriving he thought, “I don’t have a chance.”
“I apologized for not learning their songs,” he remembers. “They said, ‘We don’t want to play our blimey tunes, let’s play the blues.” Verheyen was hired on the spot.
“It was definitely a big bump in income,” he remembers. “I went from playing small clubs to flying in private jets and performing before thousands.”
When he’s not touring with Supertramp, he’s playing smaller gigs with the Carl Verheyen Band. A veteran studio musician, his credits include Toyota jingles and soundtracks for TV shows such as Cheers and Seinfeld as well as movies like Ratatouille, Cars I and the upcoming Cars II.
Called “One of the Top 10 Guitar Players in the World” by Guitar Magazine, Verheyen has also earned the respect of his peers.
“Carl is so overwhelming to sit in a room and jam with, let alone his playing on records and stage,” Brad Paisley said. “You get the impression there is no style or territory he is unable to explore.”
Verheyen teaches at USC occasionally and the Musician’s Institute. When he’s on tour, he finds time to teach master classes at night.
“I feel a responsibility to pass my knowledge on,” he explained. “I see the next generation as typists who make music on a computer. I want to make sure kids are coming along and are becoming proficient on an instrument.”
In the next week or so, Verheyen will debut his signature guitar through the company, LSL Instruments. It is designed to replicate a 1961 Fender Stratocaster in quality, weight and output. Instead of a $50,000 price tag, it will cost about $2,500 making it more accessible to musicians. Verheyen is closely supervising production.
“I go three times a week to check the progress and make sure it is going the way I want,” he said. “The most important thing is that it is lighter using the best pieces of wood.”
For more information on LSL Guitars, visit lslinstruments.com.
The concert will be held inside the marquee on the grounds of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, 450 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. Beer, wine and other beverages will be served. CDs will be available for purchase. Adults are $15 ($20 at the door), and youth are $10 (17 and under.) For more information, call (760) 632-9711.