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Spanish Guitars and Percussive Grooves
Written by Amy Domian

"Spanish Guitars and Percussive Grooves" tends to be the realm for guitarist Aaron Burlbaw. With Burlbaw’s Nuevo-flamenco (non-traditional flamenco) techniques, he delivers a Spanish and Latin blend of music. Burlbaw has been performing for 13 years in the Midwest area. He fronts his all-instrumental Latin Jazz group Acoustik Element and supports Autumn's Child and Farshid Etniko with their "world music" ensembles.

Passion for Sound

Without a doubt, Aaron Burlbaw has a passion for the sound. 11 years in the music industry, 4 CD's, 2 DVD's, 50 television appearance, 20 radio appearances, with 4 musical groups.

Aaron found his passion for music at an early age. When Aaron was 12, his mother introduced him the guitar via Neil Diamond's classic "Lady". Throughout high school, his gift of playing by ear led him from finger style pieces by Jim Croce, to rock songs by Led Zeppelin and Van Halen, to classical preludes and etudes.

In 1999, after receiving his Bachelors Degree from University Missouri St. Louis for Business Management, Aaron studied under renowned guitar instructor Duke Michalak. Aaron says, "Duke gives you insight on the theory side of music, and reflects the importance of professionalism".

In early 2000, Aaron met vocalist/guitarist Tim Casteel. After hearing him sing for the 1st time, Aaron said to him, "for an unsigned musician, you have the best voice I've heard". Shortly thereafter, the band Dionysia was born.

Living 3 houses away from each other, Paul Quinn and Aaron became friends at an early age. They lost touch for about twelve years, but in late 2000, ran into each other at a bar called Rody McCools on the day of Dionysia's 1st show. Not too long after, Aaron and Paul began composing all instrumental music fusing nylon and steel stringed guitars. Years later this collaboration would be known as the group "Meñache". In 2003, Paul would take over the role of bass guitar in Dionysia. Aaron, Paul, and Tim would go on to release two full length CD's and two 45 minute DVD's with Dionysia.

Starting late 2004, Aaron not only studied soloing and right hand rhythm techniques from Farshid Sotanshahi, but also honed his live performance skills. One year later, Aaron joined Farshid's popular ethnic group called "Farshid Etniko". Farshid stills mentors Aaron with studies of Eastern instruments: Tar, Baglama, Cajon, and Doumbeck.

In 2006, Aaron received a phone call from Ali Soltanshahi, Farshid's younger brother. Ali asked Aaron to join the world music group "Ginkgo Biloba". Ginkgo regularly performed for St Louis’s mayor Francis Slay, and private events for Kemp Automotive, and Federal Express, and for many public shows in the Midwest area. Arranging the music and organizing recordings was Aaron’s role in Ginkgo Biloba.

July 1st, 2008, Aaron released at the Sheldon Concert hall his solo CD “Burlbaw and the Entourage” featuring 14 guest musicians. A video crew taped the performance to create the follow up DVD which was released in December 2009.

In early 2009, Aaron performed most of the music for The Biking Life magazine’s third annual DVD and also provided the music for their television commercial.

October 18, 2010 – After six years, the Latin Ensemble called Menache changed their name to Acoustik Element. The group felt that the name fit the music they were creating better….oh, and not to mention.... it’s much, much, much easier to pronounce and remember.

December 19, 2010, Aaron produced Acoustik Element’s 16 song Christmas CD which was released at an old familiar venue…..That One Place.

Look for this bio to grow, as Aaron’s “Passion for Sound” broadens, check out for updated information.

With steel-string rhythm guitar, Paul Quinn supports Meñache by setting a layer of melodic background around the percussive groove of Sigmund & Hughes. Born in Fenton, MO, Paul started playing guitar at the age of 15. While earning a degree in engineering, he studied music under Duke Michalak and greatly expanded his source of musical influence working as a disc jockey at a free-format college radio station.

Paul performs regularly with Meñache and Gingko Biloba, and occasionally supports the cast of Farshid etniKo. He played bass guitar with Dionysia for 6 years. Paul has recorded two projects with Dionysia: Mentality (2006) and Laid Back at the Sheldon (2005), and played a part in the Burlbaw & the Entourage (2008) CD/DVD projects. He is currently recording tracks for Meñache’s first full-length album.

Bringing a smile to every situation is a honest description of Jeffrey D. Hughes (aka J.D.). Born in 1984 in St. Louis, MO, he grew up quite like a normal suburb child mainly interested in playing sports and with friends. It was not till his brother began taking guitar lessons that J.D. really started paying attention to music. At age of 13 he was intrigued to see his older brother playing the songs they were both listening to and decided then to try it himself. He started taking lessons from Howard Langworthy and developed quite a love for his instrument which is primarily the guitar. He stopped taking lessons and continued on his own pursuit reading books about technique and shred guitar playing. J.D. joined a heavy metal band with his older brother and they both loved it. Trading back blistering solos became their trademark. They would play side by side for 7 years.

In early 2003 J.D. found a new love - Latin Jazz. The heavy percussion drive and sensual horn playing sent chills down his spine. He was instantly driven for a new direction in his playing. Primarily a rock/metal player he found those styles quite limiting as to what he now wanted to hear come forth from his soul. Studying the likes of Arturo Sandoval and Irakere he began to drift away from heavy music altogether in his playing. Then in late 2005 he joined a friend in a Latin involved project called Menache. There was only a need for a bass player at the time so he took a new instrument, the bass guitar. J.D. has always tried to play other instruments (piano, banjo, percussion, bass, and drums) but his main focus has always been with the guitar. So after a little adjusting from playing melodies and solos to sticking to the rhythm section of the music he has meshed quite well into the Menache project.

While still playing in Menache and working a full-time job as a carpenter in training disaster struck in June of 2006. After five weeks of grueling fevers he was diagnosed with AML (Acute Mylegenous Leukemia). His music took a drastic halt as he was hospitalized for six weeks and fought for his life at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Still an acoustic guitar was by his side in the hospital. Music became so much more to him than ever before, a way to funnel out the pain from within his mind and soul. Through the help of family and friends J.D. had a miraculous recovery by early 2007 and has rejoined Menache and also began taking lessons again to propel his playing to the never ending pursuit of musical bliss.

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