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The world's finest guitarists converge on Sydney
Guitarra. Image credit: Sydney Guitar Festival website
Paco Pena and the Grigoryan Brothers will headline the inaugural Sydney Guitar Festival, happening Wednesday 23-Sunday 27 August 2017. The two world-famous names will join Jim Pennell, a soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; Phil Manning, guitarist with Australian blues band Chain; and Joe Robinson, a Nashville-based virtuoso, to form Guitarra. Each act will play a set, before the five collaborate on a powerful finale, combining blues, jazz, classical and flamenco.
Richie Kotzen. Image credit: Sydney Guitar Festival website
The five-day festival is taking over venues across the city. While Guitarra will appear at The Concourse, Chatswood, on Saturday 25 August and the Enmore Theatre on Sunday 27, Richie Kotzen will play the Factory Theatre on Friday 24. Born in Pennsylvania, US, he's been bringing his high-speed technique to audiences for 28 years. He's released 21 albums as a solo artist and been a prominent member of several bands, including Poison, Mr Big and The Winery Dogs.
Sarah McLeod. Sydney Guitar Festival website.
Also appearing at the Factory Theatre, on Thursday 23, is Sarah McLeod, former front woman, guitarist and songwriter for The Superjesus. When the band took a break in the early 2000s, McLeod pursued a solo career, which included collaborations with Chris Cheney (The Living End) and Jeff Martin (The Tea Party). At this gig, she'll be in duo mode with drummer Mick Skelton (Baby Animals), playing songs from soon-to-be-released album Rocky's Diner, as well as old hits.
A couple of shows focus on themes, rather than individual artists. On Friday 25, seven Australian guitarists will converge on The Concourse, Chatswood, to play Crossroads, a tribute to Eric Clapton. The repertoire covers his entire career, from The Yardbirds, Blind Faith and Cream to Derek and the Dominoes and his many solo releases. Then, on Saturday 26, in the same venue, guitarists Zane Banks and Drey Rolland will present B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Beyond: Pioneers of Rock and Roll. This show is a geographical and historical journey, from the Mississippi Delta to Memphis, Tennessee, featuring tunes by King and Berry, as well those influenced by their legacy, namely Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Freddy King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
The rest of the Sydney Guitar Festival program, which includes more concerts and guitar workshops, can be read online over here.