Marcel Ardans, 24, grew up on a city farm in Phoenix and later in northern Arizona. His family moved to Bellingham when he was a teen and he attended Sehome High School.
After graduating, he started performing professionally in stage productions and musicals in the pit orchestra in productions at Western Washington University, Bellingham Theater Guild and Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth.
He leads a monthly bluegrass jam — an unrehearsed, live performance with invited musicians — at Honey Moon Mead & Cider (the next one is 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16) and performs with dobro player Nakos Marker and with the bluegrass band Jackalope.
He will lead a bluegrass guitar workshop during the Bellingham Folk Festival, which runs Jan. 22-24 at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. For more about him, see lessonswithmarcel.com, http://jackalopetheband.com, www.facebook.com/MarcelandNakos and marcelandnakos.com.
Question: How did your interest in music begin?
Answer: I started on percussion and drum set. I studied under the great jazz wizard Mel Zelnick, who performed with musicians like Patti Page, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman, Ray Charles, Mel Torme and Stan Getz. I started to play guitar when my older brother left for college and left behind his instrument. In high school I started upright bass when I escaped a difficult science class and started orchestra.
My involvement in music programs almost hindered my ability to graduate. Thankfully, I had immense support from my music instructors. They created a special award for my music accomplishments and helped me graduate on time.
Later, I took piano and theory lessons with Bellingham music director Steve Barnes.
Ardans specializes in the bluegrass guitar style of flat-picking on acoustic guitar.
Question: What’s been your performing experience?
Answer: My stage experience began in high school with band, choir, orchestra, jazz band, chamber choir, chamber orchestra, and men’s choir. I composed and conducted pieces for a school play and advanced orchestra.
Question: Then what?
Answer: I developed a passion for bluegrass music and started a bluegrass band, David’s Drinking Band (later renamed Jackalope).
Question: And now?
Answer: I sing and play guitar, specializing in the bluegrass guitar style of flat-picking, played exclusively on acoustic guitar and characterized by speed and clarity.
Question: What else do we need to know about you?
Answer: I was born with otosclerosis, a hereditary disorder affecting bone growth in the inner ear, resulting in a difficult time distinguishing lower pitches and communicating in noisy environments. I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 6 and will continue to for the rest of my life.
I am a proud member of the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss, which hosts a forum for music educators, audiologists and musicians looking for information, solutions and support.
I teach private guitar lessons in my home studio.I teach at Fairhaven Middle School working with a group of children on basic guitar techniques.
When not teaching or playing shows, I work at Fairhaven Toy Garden; I’ll likely have a child-sized guitar slung around me, practicing.