Artist of the Month
Santa Fean Sandy Hoffman has made a name for himself in Christian music circles as an acclaimed guitarist who has taught guitar around the world, and as a regular contributor to Worship Musician magazine. But with the release of his new acoustic guitar album, Sereno, he hopes to reach a wider audience.
"My goal is to give people a sense of serenity and peace through my music," Hoffman says. "I hope it helps people consider the spiritual side of life. It's definitely music that encourages people to be contemplative."
Sereno is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon, whether sipping an iced tea or just lounging in a hammock. It will appeal to those who enjoy guitarist Leo Kottke and the fingerpicking style of Doc Watson.
Hoffman spent his youth in North Carolina, playing music. His aunt taught him to play the ukulele when he was only five years old, and at 10 he began his study and love of the cello. The 54-year-old admits, however, that he got hooked on the guitar when he heard the Beatles. When Hoffman was 17, he left high school to join the first touring cast of the musical Godspell. "It was so worth it," he says about this life-changing experience, which strengthened his love of music. (He later earned his high school diploma.)
The guitarist says that New Mexico offers him the serenity, beauty, and peace that he's always sought. He first lived in Santa Fe in the late 1990s, then moved to northern California for several years; but in 2005, after his kids had grown up, he returned to Santa Fe. The departure of his youngest to study in Austria and the feelings of "an empty nest" led him to write Sereno's title track, which features a mesmerizing yet melancholic melody.
While not every composition on the album is about New Mexico, most of them were written here. "Agua Fria" is a contemplative yet spirited, written when Hoffman was living at his first Santa Fe address, on Agua Fria Street.
Most of Sandy Hoffman's instrumentals feature elegant fingerstyle guitar playing, but on several of them he has layered the sounds of the other instruments he plays, which include the cello, tambourine, acoustic bass guitar, and synthesizer piano.