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Versatile Gackstatter performs at Iron Horse

By Rod Pocowatchit, The Wichita Eagle
Posted on Fri, Feb. 28, 2003

Gary Gackstatter is an accomplished conductor, composer, singer, songwriter, performer, painter and poet. And he teaches at Cowley County Community College. How does he find the time? "It's just something that takes a lot of planning ahead," Gackstatter said. "It's always been this way. If I have a free week, I'll fill it up with something."

Gackstatter will have just returned from California by the time this article hits the streets. He's been busy working with a youth symphony in Long Beach with its performance of a piece he wrote, an arrangement inspired by Elmer Bernstein's score for the film "To Kill a Mockingbird." The piece had its local debut last April, with "Mockingbird" star Mary Badham in attendance.

Although his interests are varied, Gackstatter said he absolutely loves playing guitar. "I just think the acoustic guitar is the most perfect instrument," he said. "The whole melody, the rhythm, you can do anything."

Here's the Q&A.

Name: Gary Gackstatter, singer/songwriter, acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass and flugelhorn

From: Five Man Trio

Other band personnel: Dave Bostwick, singer/songwriter, acoustic guitar, bass, harmonica, Chris Mayer, hand percussion

Performing: With special guests Rhapsody String Quartet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Iron Horse Concert Hall, 315 S. Main in El Dorado. Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.

Type of music: There's really no classification for us, and we're proud of that. The songs change styles drastically, keeping it interesting for the audience and for us. We do all original music that crosses borders and invents some genres along the way.

Any albums out? "Under the Kansas Sky, Moon and Stars."

Do you have a Web site?

How did your band get its name? We change the instrumentation for just about every song, so Chris came up with the name 5 Man Trio to emphasize our versatility. Either that or he was referring to our multiple personalities.

How long have you been together? I've been doing concerts of original music for about 10 years. We started playing together as a group about three years ago.

What first made you want to play a musical instrument? My dad has a huge classical music collection, even though he grew up on a farm near Phillipsburg. His love of music made a big impression on me as a kid. Music was always revered in our house.

What is in your CD player right now? Joni Mitchell's "Shadows and Light."

Quote to live by: "What grows does not grow old." --Noah benShea

Advice to bands just getting started: There's no greater joy than playing your own music, so start writing! The world needs more art and originality, less sound-alike groups.

Define music: Besides being just "sound organized through time," it has to have meaning. Otherwise, what's the point? And I truly believe the meaning shouldn't have anything to do with money or commercialism. It has to come from your heart and soul, or it's just another form of generic wallpaper.

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