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  The Maverick Helmsman
Artist: Nick Beggs 
Label: (distributed through Nick's website)
Time: 10 tracks/40:16 min.

Nick Beggs showcases his formidable talent playing the Chapman Stick on his second solo stick CD, The Maverick Helmsman. (The first was 2002's Stick Insect.) A brief overview of this unique but versatile instrument: it has ten strings, a guitar fretboard but is able to provide bass and guitar sounds simultaneously. Think classical guitar-meets-harpsichord with string sounds lacing the tracks. The result is a lovely, understated yet emotionally resonant CD.

Nick, who wrote all of the songs on this CD except for "My Joy," which he co-wrote, and performs them all himself on the stick, serves up ten tunes that range from sweet and contemplative to subtly upbeat. Standout tunes such as "Willow" and "So Far Away" illustrate the former, while the title track, "The Maverick Helmsman", illustrates the latter. This particular track is exquisite, as it has a lovely understatedness to it that belies its quiet power, as the entwining notes swirl their way into a melody that is joyful yet poignant. Other tracks on the album have sounds that evoke nature, such as "The Meaning of Everything", which is a slow, ponderous piece that evokes a flowing brook; the notes seem to creep up, down and around, and this makes for an interesting listen.

The album is well worth a listen as it further showcases Nick's talent on a unique yet melodic instrument. For more information and to order the CD, visit Nick's website at For more information on the Chapman Stick, visit

Christine Chagaris 



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