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By Julie Seabaugh
Anderson first met Grabau when Caution Horse and Stillwater (Grabau's previous band) shared gigs, and though Magnolia Summer already had one ace guitarist in John Horton, the band's leader felt Anderson was the ideal complement.
"He's an expert musician, but he plays to the songs," Grabau says. "He truly listens and gets to know them. He doesn't just play on top of them. That can be more difficult than it seems. A part needs to lead from one place to the next. He's good at that. On the album Lines From the Frame and the song 'Birds Without a Wire,' in particular, his pedal steel just makes it. I really miss his parts when I have to play the song without him."
"I sound like myself no matter what," Anderson says, "but I try to get the idea of what the songwriter is trying to get across, to play within their realm. I do get bummed out when I see a good guitar player onstage and I can't hear them; they're barely in the mix. I always want to bring the sound forward, without stomping all over the other musicians. That's hard to balance."
As with his guitar playing, so it is with his guitar fixing. With Tritone Guitars, Anderson listens closely and communicates, as challenging as that can be, with the fellow musicians he's serving.
"Sometimes you're not on the same wavelength," he confesses. "It's like going to a chiropractor. It's not a bad chiropractor, but you're not together. When you do find one that works, it's like, 'Yes!' I'm just comfortable working in front of people. We can talk about how they play, if they're a heavy or light picker. I can set up the guitar specifically for them, they can play it, I can converse with them, and then I can make adjustments on the spot. And then they see the process, actually learn what a good setup is. That's huge."