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Albi and the Wolves: terrific trio with a Taylor guitar

Dark guitar, pale player

Albi, aka Chris Dent with the Wolves, his Auckland-based Americana band
Albi, aka Chris Dent with the Wolves, his Auckland-based Americana band

Two things you notice about Chris Dent: He’s albino, and he plays a Taylor guitar, straight from the Taylor factory in El Cajon, California.

Chris happens to be onstage right now, here in Christchurch, New Zealand, singing and playing his heart out with his group, Albi and the Wolves. Have to say, they are a terrific trio, pumping out great Americana with tight harmonies and a razzmatazz electric violin which takes them to the edge of jazz and classical sounds. It’s all a little surreal: I have made this visit to see friends and rellies, and to look for San Diego connections while I’m here. And tonight, we’re seeing the breaking of another barrier via the medium of music. Chris takes a moment onstage. “My name is Chris, but a nickname I picked up at high school was ‘Albi,’ because I have albinism. So I would hitchhike around the country as ‘Albi,’ then when the band formed we just added ‘wolves.’ There’s no special story. We just quite like wolves. I’m 30 now, and I have spent a third of my life in the band. I have been practically raised by Wolves.”

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He brings his humor to what is, after all, a serious condition that’s not often talked about. “Albinism affects your skin, and your eyesight, and your hair,” he tells the crowd. “Mostly it affects my vision and makes some things impossible. I can’t drive a car, I need magnification to read things, I can’t see very far away. I just have to think a bit smarter when I try to do stuff, like making music. And lately, I’ve had a strong urge to share what I am, and the fact that it’s not stopping me from doing the things that I love to do. I’ve had to work extraordinarily hard. But everybody has to.” Applause ripples out among the normally reserved Christchurch crowd.

Chris and his group do work extraordinarily hard this night, and the reward is a hall filled with love and enthusiasm, as he urges his California guitar into a frenzy. He credits his cohorts, and a group modestly financed by government funds called Arts On Tour, for making tonight possible. Arts On Tour is a trust which gives artists a bus and guaranteed gigs throughout the country for a whole month. Then he credits his San Diego guitar. It works so well with the crazy violin and bass, the audience won’t let them off the stage.

So why, of all the guitars in all the world, did Albi choose one from the Taylor factory in El Cajon, California? “Because, well, it made my heart sing. This US$2000 Taylor was my upgrade, a grand auditorium size model. Quite large, for a full tone, and I like the simplicity of the pick-up system. Plus, the guitar just sounds great in treble and bass. I love it. I got the dark wood model. Partly because I approve of the way Taylor makes sure they only harvest African ebony wood sustainably, which is a big issue, because it is so slow-growing. I’m very dedicated to the brand.”

He has never been to California. “But I would love to, if only to visit the Taylor guitar factory in — what is it called? El Cadjoan?

Near enough, Chris.

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Albi, aka Chris Dent with the Wolves, his Auckland-based Americana band
Albi, aka Chris Dent with the Wolves, his Auckland-based Americana band

Two things you notice about Chris Dent: He’s albino, and he plays a Taylor guitar, straight from the Taylor factory in El Cajon, California.

Chris happens to be onstage right now, here in Christchurch, New Zealand, singing and playing his heart out with his group, Albi and the Wolves. Have to say, they are a terrific trio, pumping out great Americana with tight harmonies and a razzmatazz electric violin which takes them to the edge of jazz and classical sounds. It’s all a little surreal: I have made this visit to see friends and rellies, and to look for San Diego connections while I’m here. And tonight, we’re seeing the breaking of another barrier via the medium of music. Chris takes a moment onstage. “My name is Chris, but a nickname I picked up at high school was ‘Albi,’ because I have albinism. So I would hitchhike around the country as ‘Albi,’ then when the band formed we just added ‘wolves.’ There’s no special story. We just quite like wolves. I’m 30 now, and I have spent a third of my life in the band. I have been practically raised by Wolves.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

He brings his humor to what is, after all, a serious condition that’s not often talked about. “Albinism affects your skin, and your eyesight, and your hair,” he tells the crowd. “Mostly it affects my vision and makes some things impossible. I can’t drive a car, I need magnification to read things, I can’t see very far away. I just have to think a bit smarter when I try to do stuff, like making music. And lately, I’ve had a strong urge to share what I am, and the fact that it’s not stopping me from doing the things that I love to do. I’ve had to work extraordinarily hard. But everybody has to.” Applause ripples out among the normally reserved Christchurch crowd.

Chris and his group do work extraordinarily hard this night, and the reward is a hall filled with love and enthusiasm, as he urges his California guitar into a frenzy. He credits his cohorts, and a group modestly financed by government funds called Arts On Tour, for making tonight possible. Arts On Tour is a trust which gives artists a bus and guaranteed gigs throughout the country for a whole month. Then he credits his San Diego guitar. It works so well with the crazy violin and bass, the audience won’t let them off the stage.

So why, of all the guitars in all the world, did Albi choose one from the Taylor factory in El Cajon, California? “Because, well, it made my heart sing. This US$2000 Taylor was my upgrade, a grand auditorium size model. Quite large, for a full tone, and I like the simplicity of the pick-up system. Plus, the guitar just sounds great in treble and bass. I love it. I got the dark wood model. Partly because I approve of the way Taylor makes sure they only harvest African ebony wood sustainably, which is a big issue, because it is so slow-growing. I’m very dedicated to the brand.”

He has never been to California. “But I would love to, if only to visit the Taylor guitar factory in — what is it called? El Cadjoan?

Near enough, Chris.

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