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Sydney Guitar Festival 2018

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by Irenke Forsyth (subscribe)
A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at
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Warmly welcomed by the Sydney music community in its first year, the Sydney Guitar Festival returns for a second year bigger and better over 11 days at various venues throughout the city, the inner-west and the north shore.

A platform for showcasing uniquely-curated performances, you can expect an exciting line-up of world-class guitarists as well as exhibitions, workshops, competitions and even a Guinness World Record attempt.

Here are some highlights:-

Festival Gala Day

Kicking it all off on 9 August is the Gala Day at The Concourse Concert Hall in Chatswood (409 Victoria Ave) with the likes of Kaki King (USA), Nathan Cavaleri (AUS), Derek Gripper (RSA), Z-Star Trinity (UK), the Turner Brown Band (AUS/USA) and many other accomplished musicians doing blues, jazz and rock, to name a few.

Sydney Guitar Festival
Kaki King - Provocative and Moving

Led by MC Luke Escombe and presented in two halves, the gala begins with an intimate session of three of today's finest acoustic innovators before transitioning into an electrifying performance of guitarists and their own songs followed by an all-star jam that will leave you both inspired and mesmerised.

Tickets for this event start from $49.

Tommy Emmanuel

This acoustic guitar icon is returning home for two performances, one at Enmore Theatre (118-132 Enmore Rd) in Newtown on 11 August with Daniel Champagne and Nathan Cavaleri, and the other at The Concourse Concert Hall on 12 August with Richard Smith. Tommy brings the power of a full band to his solo playing with speed, dexterity and command of melody.

It was intended that his older brother Phil would join him as a guest but his sudden passing away in May will now see a special tribute to his sibling, also a legend of a guitarist, incorporated into the performances.

Tickets are from $79.

Albert Lee

The Factory Theatre in Marrickville (105 Victoria Rd) will host Grammy award-winning legend Albert Lee on 19 August when he joins his band for a rare Australian tour.

Celebrating 50 years in the business, he has played with megastars Eric Clapton, The Everly Brothers, Joe Cocker and Emmylou Harris, and will bring his rock and country roots to the festival with his fast fingers and playing style.

Special guests are The Spin Drifters and Lucky Oceans.

Tickets can be had from $45.

Purple Haze – The Jimi Hendrix Tribute

Purple Haze, The Jimi Hendrix Tribute
You'll be kicking yourself if you miss this one

You don't want to miss this spectacularly staged homage to Jimi, consisting of nine of our greatest guitar players performing the biggest hits that made the legend.

Remember Foxy Lady, Watchtower, Hey Joe and Voodoo Chile? These and more will be played with each of the nine choosing two of their favourite Jimi Hendrix songs and a couple doing some surprise duets before the culmination of a massive psychedelic-fuelled jam.

The guitar greats include Grant Walmsley (founder of the Screaming Jets), Brett Williams of The Choirboys, Jak Housden of The Whitlams and Dai Pritchard (Billy Thorpe's right-hand man). On drums and bass are Mick Skelton and Dario Bortolin from Baby Animals with a stellar cast including Jimmy Barnes, Wendy Matthews, INXS and Richard Clapton.

Tickets are from $65 and you can witness it all on 11 August at The Concourse Theatre.

Holy Grail Guitar Exhibition

At select shows, Holy Grail Guitars will display some of their museum-quality collection of guitars which will be curated to the specific event.

Clyde Watkins, owner of the collection, will also share some history and fascinating stories which will bring the instruments to life.

The Sydney Junior Guitar Championships

Sydney Junior Guitar Championships
The comp for under 18's to hone their skills

Presented by Big Music, this challenge gives the chance to young guitarists under 18 to develop their skills under pressure and in front of a live audience. It's open to both acoustic and electric guitar players with some great prizes up for grabs from the presenter and Australis.

Entry is free and it takes place on 12 August at The Concourse.

Guinness World Record Attempt

The Largest Electric Guitar Ensemble is the record to be broken and sights are set on 500 guitarists and bass players (the largest number ever) joining in to play the same song in the same place.

Hosted by 104.9 Triple M's Ugly Phil, it will feature Australian band The Choirboys and James Morley (The Angels) leading the epic attempt of AC/DC's legendary hit, Highway to Hell.

Participant tickets are $45 and include a Marshall MS-2 amplifier. All proceeds will go to the Australian Children's Music Foundation to assist with their efforts in providing music programs and instruments to disadvantaged children across Australia.

The place to be for this part of guitar history is The Concourse at Chatswood on 12 August.

Make a Cigar Box Guitar

This full-day workshop gives you the thrill of making and playing your very own musical instrument, a cigar box guitar.

Cigar Box Guitar Workshop
For the thrill of making your own musical instrument

Students will construct their three string fretless guitar using a box, neck, fretboard and soundboard. Machine heads will be added and a piezo pickup and input jack fitted and then your guitar will be ready for strings.

Tickets are $350 and this includes all materials, with you being able to play that raw bluesy crunchy sound by the end of the day. Even beginners can play straightaway due to the 'open' tuning.

Run by artist Geoff Tonkin, it takes place at The Splinter Workshop in Marrickville (Unit 1/ 17 Barclay St). Dates for the class are 18 & 19 August.

For further information on these and other events, please visit the website.
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Why? For the love of music
Phone: Box Office 02 9550 3666
Where: Various venues (check the website)
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