Does the term “classical guitar” conjure visions of dust motes dancing over half-lit stages awash in cigarette smoke or does it seem more likely such would occur in full concert halls festooned in red velvet and crystal chandeliers? Imagining some lengthy Bach piece in an obscure minor key?  Would you expect to hear an award-winning classical guitar virtuoso in a school lunchroom in Hobson, Montana? What? Wait … Hobson, Montana?

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Andy Hackbarth, a Colorado native, and handsome personable young man holding a Bachelor of Music in classical guitar, appeared in Hobson with his tribute to “the Father of the Classical Guitar” on Sunday, November 18. Aside from the uncomfortable metal folding chairs, the stage, lighting, and sound system were surprisingly adequate. Thanks to the Judith Arts society, PO Box 254, Hobson, MT  59452, Andy’s tribute to Andres Segovia was both entertaining and educational.

We all assume that “classical guitar” is a method but it is also an entirely different kind of guitar. The neck is wider allowing for the fingering method specific to classical guitar — strumming and picking the strings on the face and fingering much like picking a lead on the neck. The guitar itself is shaped differently allowing for greater manipulation of the strings which were traditionally catgut but for longevity are now made of nylon. The base strings or larger gauge strings are now nylon wrapped in steel. The tuning pins extend toward the back instead of the side. Andy created an extraordinary sound and has performed in bars and concert halls alike. As a self-proclaimed extreme sports junkie, he enjoys a good adventure and travel. Add cruise ships and now Hobson, MT, to his list of touring sites.

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Andy’s style of  sitting is similar to a traditional “Flamenco” player. (The socks were seasonal fun.)

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Andy’s performance includes musical education.


“Nah,” you may say to yourself, “I like country music.” Well, Andy Hackbarth also plays a mean rendition of most country tunes you can name (and invites you to sing along), writes his own, has country and classical CDs, points out that Chet Atkins was a classical guitarist, and will generally debunk any objections imaginable. When not touring, he is based out of Nashville and Colorado.

Classical guitar is mesmerizing and soothing and at one point the feral wind moaning through the window panes of the lunchroom seemed to add a certain spiritual quality.  Maintaining any sense of joy or tranquility (let alone hairstyles) when buffeted by our central Montana weather is challenging. Sometimes it beats about our ears with a vengeance whether we are participating in sports or just throwing hay to bovine. Andy Hackbarth’s concert banished all day-to-day concerns. Feeling cultured, avoiding the distraction of speaking to anyone, clutching my signed CDs, I hurried down to Tallboys Tavern for a glass of wine with Curried Walley, and allowed the experience to linger.

I recommend going online at and checking out his free 5-song sampler.  Or ask your favorite music source to play some. He is on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Quality entertainment … in a school lunchroom … in a tiny town in the middle of Montana.  Go figure!