Hailed for decades as the best finger-style guitarist by many music critics, fellow musicians and listeners alike, Adrian Legg is making Fort Smith a priority.

The acclaimed performer will play a variety of styles for the Artist Audience Community Live (AACL) concert series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the 801 Media Center, 801 N. A St., said Tom Ware, production manager for the ongoing music series. The concert, like those that have preceded it, will be a must-see, must-hear gathering for all fans of live entertainment, he said.

"Adrian Legg is kind of a cross between Garrison Keillor and King Crimson's Robert Fripp," Ware said. "He's all Brit and he spins tall tales, using custom electric/acoustic guitars that he layers and loops."

Legg was named the Acoustic Guitarist of the Decade by the UK's Guitarist Magazine (1984-1994), as well as getting the top spot in the Best Acoustic Finger Stylist category in Guitar Player Magazine's Readers' Poll for four consecutive years. The latter recognition took place from 1993-1996.

"Adrian Legg uses just about every tool known to guitarists — caps, alternate tunings, banjo-tuning pegs, effects pedals," Ware said. "He has astonishing timing, and he somehow manages to make it all seem homespun and very musical."

Rob Goodfellow, president for the AAC Live series, called Legg a great talent and the latest to be highlighted in a "special" series of locally produced concerts.

"This series strives to bring in some of the best-of-the-best singers, songwriters and musicians," he said. "We are thrilled about the season.

"This marks our 20th season of bringing world-class, live-music performers and entertainment to the Arkansas River Valley," Goodfellow added.

Goodfellow called Legg one of the "premier fingerstyle guitar players" in the world.

"Fingerstyle usually refers to using fingers independently to play multiple parts of a musical arrangement, which would normally be played by several band members," he said. "Deep bass notes, harmonics, melody and percussion can all be played simultaneously. It's amazing to see in a live show.

"And Adrian Legg considers playing live as the best part of being a performer," Goodfellow added.

During an interview posted on Legg's official website, AdrianLegg.com, Legg echoed Goodfellow's comments.  

"Playing live is the whole point," Legg said in that interview. "Everyone makes a journey, an effort. We all come together — me, the audience,the people who run the venue — to share this wonderful, universal, human emotional interaction. This is where music lives. it has a huge social value, which I think is very important.”

Ware agreed without hesitation, adding that musicians of all skill levels enjoy Legg's Fort Smith appearance.

"As a fingerstyle guitarist myself, I'm in awe of Adrian Legg's ability to weave simple folk melodies, fast-picking rockers and orchestral-sounding pieces into a single set," said Ware, who has played in area bands such as Grayghost, Tom & Lacey, Werewolves, Razorback, Tom Ware Trio, The Underdogs and Tom Ware & Friends, among others. "And Adrian has great bass lines the plays with his thumb, too."

Another plus about the AAC Live series is the fact that audience members have the ability to meet and talk with the performing artists, Goodfellow said.

"In a listening-room environment, artists almost always tell wonderful stories between songs," he said. "I understand that Adrian is a wryly witty storyteller, so I am looking forward to that, as well."

For Goodfellow and Ware, selecting Legg as Thursday's concert was a natural act.

"We have had some really great fingerstyle instrumentalists at AAC Live over the years," Ware said. "We've had people like Stanley Jordan, Martin Taylor, Lawrence Juber, John Hammond, David Lindley, Johnny A., Thom Bresh, Monte Montgomery and many others," he said. "Adrian is right up there with all of those folks and beyond."

Individual tickets for the Adrian Legg concert are $40 and can be purchased at ArtistAudienceCommunityLive.com. Admission also is by AAC Live season ticket; season tickets also are available. The doors for the event will open at 6:30 p.m.

Those seeking more information can visit the Adrian Legg Facebook page and the AAC Live Facebook page.