The New York Guitar Festival is one of the few things that makes me wish I still lived in New York. If you live there or can get there don’t miss it. The Festival returns this year with a week of concerts, from May 8 to May 14, followed by a day of free workshops, master classes, and panel discussions on May 15. Players of particular interest to modern guitarists in the 2016 roster include David Torn, Nels Cline, Vernon Reid, Noveller, and Wolfgang Muthspiel. The opening Mother’s Day concert at Brookfield Place Winter Garden is in honor of the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with guest curator Luther Dickinson. 2016’s Guitar Marathon will take place at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, where rather than be confined to a single stage, the music will flow throughout the entire complex. Other venues include National Sawdust, and DROM.
Last spring I did a post on the late Jef Lee Johnson, a distinctive guitarist I felt not enough people knew about during his lifetime, let alone since he died. Apparently Jimi Hazel of 24-7 Spyz felt the same and arranged a tribute recording, rounding up some of the top Afro-American rock guitarists of our time to participate. Here is the video of the tune “Jungle (For Jef)”
and Hazel’s explanation on how it came together.
At the risk of seeming nostalgic for past glories of a genre that should be all about the future, let me ask: Where are the events like this today? Barring the occasional Nels Cline/Bill Frisell or Eivind Aarset/David Kollar duet, where are the collaborations of modern guitarists of this caliber on view in this video? Feel free to chime in, if you know of recent ones I’ve missed.
The concert was fabulously filmed—the camera usually focuses on the guitarist creating the foreground sound. What seems an old VHS or Beta transfer doesn’t look too bad, even in full screen, and the sound is quite clear as well. Check it out fast, as these channels have a way of being shut down.