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Vigneault keeps right on rockin'
vigneault with guitar
Peter Vigneault’s affection for Fender guitars, such as the Telecaster he has strapped on above, has endured for 40 years. - photo by Photo by Ralna Pearson

07.01 Peter Vigneault

Listen to Peter Vigneault's song that his wife inspired.

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Peter Vigneault doesn’t bother with a whole lot of pleasantries. He gets straight to the point and to his passion.

Upon answering his front door he goes right past the living room and leads down the hall to a small room at the end.

“This is my world,” he said.

What would be a bedroom in most homes is a recording studio in Vigneault’s.

“When I was 12 or 13, I used to go up to my brother’s house,” he said. “And they lived in the country and he was still playing in a band and I used to kind of play around on his guitar. He got mad one day and he said, ‘Listen, if you’re gonna pick the darn thing up, you might as well learn how to play it.’”

Vigneault, now 61 years old, continues to play.

“I grew up with rock from the late ’50s, early ’60s,” he said. “I grew up with The Beach Boys and The Ventures.”

The music of The Ventures, surf rock pioneers and strictly instrumentalists, has been a big influence on him. He still plays their music today.

“Well, nobody plays guitar anymore. Everybody makes a lot of noise and they put sound effects on it and they wail and scream, but nobody plays instrumentals,” he complained. “I like people that do more than wail on a guitar, you know.”

Vigneault played his first concert at age 14 and while in high school in his native New Hampshire he formed a band called the Tri-Pacers. The group later morphed into the Hi-Fi Dance Band. They became so well respected that they played the New Hampshire Governor’s Ball on New Year’s Eve for two years straight.

He has played in several bands since then including The Gamblers, The Desperados, Renegade and Against All Odds, among others.

His music revolves around the guitar. The majority of his songs are guitar instrumentals. It’s the kind of music he adores.

Yet in today’s music, rock instrumentals are a rarity, according to Vigneault.

“A lot of bands don’t play any instrumentals,” he said. “Buck Owens’ band used to play. He’ll include at least one instrumental on every album he cut. Brad Paisley, one of the hottest things going, also includes an instrumental on his albums. Brad Paisley is an inspiration. He’s a great guitarist.”

He’s also a big fan of The Eagles, George Strait, Alan Jackson, 38 Special and Pure Prairie League.

Self-taught, Vigneault plays by ear and composes his songs using the Band in a Box software program. It provides a chord sheet and a variety of music styles. He builds his songs from this foundation.

“It’s taken me out of the dungeons of boredom,” he remarked about the software.

He has composed 373 songs using the program and maintains them on CDs. They’re also listed in a special notebook.

“I’ve had songs go together in as little as 15-20 minutes; I’ve had songs take eight, 10 hours,” Vigneault said.

Vigneault’s guitar of choice is Fender, of course. He plays the Telecaster and Stratocaster. In years past, he played the Broadcaster before Fender stopped production on it.

He bought his first guitar, a brand new Fender Stratocaster, in 1962 for $359. His dad signed for him to get it. He paid it off over the next year. Ever since Vigneault’s been hooked.

“Fenders have outlasted everything,” he said. “They’ve out sounded everything — they’ve just been fantastic guitars.”

He owns four electric guitars, one acoustic/electric, one steel guitar recently rebuilt by Clayton “Buzz” Swindler of Springfield, and a large collection of music with 550 CDs, 300-plus vinyl records and at least 350 45s.

Vigneault and his wife and roadie, Penny, moved to Georgia in 2005 to be closer to their daughter, Christie and her family. They reside in Faulkville.

“My wife became my roadie and my help, my inspiration and my critic,” he said. “I depend on her ears even to this day to adjust what I’m doing.”

Since moving down South he has been playing solo, unable to find good musicians to play with in a band.

“You know I came to Georgia and considering all the people who have come out of Georgia in all venues of music, I say ‘Boy, there’s got to be tons of stuff down here,’” lamented Vigneault. “I get down here and it’s like a desert; there’s nothing.”

He said he visits local music stores such as Annie’s and Portman’s and is always looking at their bulletin boards to see if anyone is looking for musicians.

He was scheduled to perform at the café in Pooler on Friday as he has done several times before.

He began playing at Monkey Love Dessert Bar and Gallery last year after he noticed some flyers there announcing upcoming performers. He approached co-owner Laurie Beck and she was all for it.

“It’s pretty neat,” Beck said of Vigneault’s style of music. “He does a great job.”