Aug 272003
Authors: Chris Hess

A young man with black hair takes the stage, picks up his guitar, sits on his stool and begins to play.

At first, the audience pays no mind to the musician. But, as his song begins to take shape, it demands their attention. From the blur that is the player’s hands and fingers comes a music that is inspired by something above. No words are needed, the acoustic guitar sings for itself.

As the music fades away, the crowd realizes what it has witnessed and erupts in adoration. It has just been attacked by the acoustic ninja.

Trace Bundy began playing guitar at age 11 in Buena Vista, Colo. He and his brother both pitched in $5 and bought an old acoustic from a guy named Herbie.

From there, Bundy began to teach himself basic chords and learn numerous Def Leppard hits.

“Def Leppard rocks, but Stryper rocks harder,” Bundy said.

As his talent developed, Bundy became more interested in music theory. He wanted to figure out why music sounded the way it did and what made his guitar sound so good.

The self-taught guitarist began to explore the vast musical territory of his fret board. His unique instrumental stylings came from discovering various techniques on his own, and incorporating them into his songs. After a while, Bundy stopped using a pick and found that he could play more complex rhythms with all five of his fingers.

“By teaching myself, it was easier to develop my own style of playing,” Bundy said. “When there are no words, the music has to be able to speak for itself. It has to be pretty original or it’s just going to sound like everything else.”

That style is exactly what sets Trace Bundy, now 26, apart from the rest of the guitarists in Boulder, where he currently resides.

Drawing from various influences, ranging from Bela Fleck to his hero Phil Keaggy, the fan-dubbed Acoustic Ninja has created a style most commonly referred to as a unique blend of progressive-acoustic-folk-latin-classical-ninja-core, or just ninja-core.

“The whole ninja thing came from when I was a little kid,” Bundy said. “I used to dress up as ninjas and draw ninjas a lot, and it just kind of carried over into my music.”

Seeing Trace Bundy perform songs such as “Adapt” and “Dueling Ninjas” live is to experience a swift musical kick to the head. The listener will often leave the show confused, not being able to comprehend how one man can do that with just a guitar.

Bundy does have one song on which he sings.

“It’s the first song I ever wrote when I was 11 called ‘Concrete Evidence.’ It’s about the adventures of this little concrete man. I’ll sing it when I know I have friends in the crowd. We all get a kick out of it.”

Bundy is not afraid to divulge one of his most important musical secrets.

“When it comes to the guitar I’d have to say that I have the Kung-Fu grip,” he said.

Besides playing his own shows and sharing the stage with Newcomers Home, and Derek Webb of Caedmon’s Call, Bundy has spent the last three years doing graduate work at the University of Colorado to help fund his music career. Now that he is finished, he intends to return to the studio in September.

Bundy plans to record several of the fan favorites that he plays live, as well as a few songs that are still in the making. This includes an arrangement of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.

“On the song I play the bass line with my right hand and the melody with my left and then I switch and then I switch again, it should be pretty cool,” Bundy said.

This fall the Acoustic Ninja will head out to play spot dates in northern Colorado.

“Music is my passion,” Bundy said. “It’s an excellent source of expressing what’s going on inside of you. I consider it a huge blessing to sit and play for people. It’s straight from the heart, and I haven’t opened for Lil’ Bow Wow, Yanni, or the Artist Formerly Known As Prince…yet.”

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