John Kerry took some time away from his meeting with Chinese leaders to show his guitar chops. It's Kerry’s first-known recording with a classical guitar; he played bass with the Electras, his prep school band, which pressed 500 copies of its record, said a fellow band member. (The group's sax player, reached years later, didn't even realize that the then-presidential candidate had been in the band.)
Kerry showed off his somewhat rough but overall impressive flamenco skills:
He’s got a classical playing position and fingerpicks quite nicely in the first part of the clip, but hits some bad notes on his second run. His right hand technique is spot on but his fretting hand seems a little bit behind. He’s able to salvage the display with a nice flamenco move at the very end. Even Kerry admits he's not at the top of his game.
Guitar skills a little rusty, but couldn't turn down Vice Premier Liu Yandong's invitation to join in at Great Hall! pic.twitter.com/9hFLkIDMbS
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 10, 2014
The Washington Post asked some guitar experts to weigh in on his playing, which you can check out here. He’s no Paco de Lucia, but there’s been worse examples of politicians displaying their musical rhythm, so we'll give him a pass.
Kerry has picked up the guitar in the past, mostly during his 2004 presidential campaign when he joined both Moby and John Fogerty on stage. We don't have any footage of him playing electric. Hopefully he enjoyed it, because he's got a big day ahead in Afghanistan trying to ease tensions between prospective presidential candidates. There probably won't be much time for shredding.