Kiernan Tollefson telling musical stories on the 12-string guitar

Kiernan Tollefson is working on a new EP of instrumental guitar music. It’s fun to talk to someone who is so driven and serious about his music.

Kiernan turned to the guitar while sick and homebound for several months about five years ago. First, we’re so impressed with a (then) teenager who can turn adversity into an opportunity like that. Second, it’s a demonstration of how gifted people can find passion given half an opportunity.

He learned to play a guitar, moved to a 12-string and then added a finger tapping method, which he learned after meeting another Minnesota guitarist, Billy McLaughlin. Billy got him started by simply showing him how to hold the guitar and inspired him. That slide sound adds a added interest to his playing. Kiernan is working on a new EP and alluded to other unusual ways that he will be playing with sound on the EP.

Kiernan’s music is story-based, which can be especially challenging with instrumental music. His music evokes a feeling: To Remember emits a calm punctuated with the slide of the finger tapping while a song like Forever and Always builds to a tension that is palpable. Kiernan sets challenges for himself and he is a perfectionist; in short, he has the pieces in place to reach a lot of people with his music.

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