Guitarist Scott Huckabay was busking on North Fourth Avenue alongside a violinist in the early 1990s when he struck on a quirky idea.
He turned to the violinist and asked to borrow his bow.
He drew the bow over the guitar strings and created a squealing sound. The more he did it, the more refined the sound.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool,’ ” said Huckabay. “I started adapting it into my style of playing.”
Huckabay makes his acoustic guitar sound like a full band.
“I do a lot of live looping, playing a drumbeat on my guitar that comes from special pickups I had installed in the guitar,” he explained during a phone call from his home on Mount Shasta in Northern California.
“I’ll play a beat then loop it with a bass line on top. I stack all these elements, and it ends up becoming a big sound, like a band, even though it’s just me up there.”
Huckabay brings his experimental guitar rock to Solar Culture next Thursday. It will be his first time in Tucson in six or seven years.
“I’m real excited to be coming back,” he said two weeks ago, as a snowstorm moved onto the other side of Mount Shasta.
Huckabay lives off the grid in the mountain community, not far from the Oregon border. He uses solar and windmills to generate electricity and recently dug a well for water.
“I’m out here by myself with all the wild animals and the snakes and the birds,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome to be out here. It helps my creativity. I feel like a hermit out here.”
Huckabay grew up in Tempe. In the late 1980s, when he was in his early 20s, he fell in with a tribe of guys he described as desert rats. He said they spent their days partying, doing drugs and riding motorcycles.
That all ended for him when he crashed his motorcycle into a truck while he was high.
He flew 50 feet in the air, landing on his head, cracking his helmet. He said he had put on the helmet after a voice told him not to get on the bike without it.
When he woke up in the hospital, someone had put a guitar at the foot of his bed. “That’s when I started playing guitar,” he said.
“As soon as I picked up the guitar, there was instant healing,” said Huckabay, who’s self-taught. “I started constantly playing because I didn’t want to be in pain. When I touched the guitar, I didn’t feel [any] pain.”