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Guitarist Oscar Lopez returns to Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Oscar Lopez didn’t want to say what songs he will play in advance of his performance Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Empress Theatre.
That’s not because the two-time Juno Award winner doesn’t know, but rather because he is nothing if not spontaneous.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve been leaving a lot of elements of surprise,” Lopez said with a laugh Thursday during a telephone interview. “I like to improvise, I like to have fun. I like to start a conversation to establish a connection with the audience.”
“It’s always good to entertain people.”
The 7:30 p.m. performance by the Calgary musician is part of the Empress Theatre’s Center Stage Series.
Lopez will take the Empress stage with guitarist Ricardo Madrid and percussionist Luis Tovar, with whom he performs regularly.
“They’re young guys who know me,” Lopez said. “Tremendous musicians who actually make me shine.”
“We work as a team and they shine too. That makes me really proud of them. We have good chemistry.”
Lopez won Juno Awards in 2002 for Best Instrumental Album and 2005 for Instrumental Album of the Year.
A native of Santiago, Chile who immigrated to Canada in 1979, Lopez has accumulated five Juno nominations and several other awards for his 12 albums.
“It’s a combination of many things,” Lopez said of his Latin-infused sound. “I bring many, many things to my music.”
Lopez incorporates jazz, blues and pop sensibilities into his music in a professional career that has spanned 43 years.
Now 63, Lopez has cut down on touring so he can spend more time at home with his 10-year-old son.
The slower pace doesn’t mean Lopez is giving in to Father Time, however.
Lopez is proud of his most recent album Apasionado, which he released in 2015 as an independent artist.
“I’m almost a little bit like the wine,” Lopez promised. “The older you get, the better you get,”
Lopez has seen changes in the industry in the course of more than four decades, particularly in the form of technology as music evolved from vinyl recordings to digital release.
“The music has not changed,” Lopez said. “I’m an old-fashioned guy. I like the old music, I’m taking my time now, I work my own pace. Right now I go one day at a time. Music is something that life has given me and when they need me, I will be there.”
Lopez said he is grateful for the gift bestowed upon him.
“To be able to use it as a therapy, a clean therapy that we all need in our life,” Lopez said. “Especially at these critical moments in the world. For a couple of hours we can get off that track and try to have a good time.”
Lopez is retuning to the Empress stage after an absence of several years and is looking forward to being in Fort Macleod’s historic theatre.
“I loved the intimacy,” Lopez said of the Empress. “It’s like being at home.”
Saturday’s audience will hear some familiar Lopez tunes, as well as some new songs.
No matter what songs Lopez performs Saturday night with Madrid and Tovar, the audience is guaranteed of an authentic performance.
“Who I am on stage is who I am on the street,” Lopez said. “Who I am on the street is who I am on the stage.”
“The passion is always going to be there. It’s part of my soul. That’s who I am.”