Guitar summit not for purists

This Sunday night, renowned acoustic guitarists from around the world will gather at the Yukon Arts Centre.

This Sunday night, renowned acoustic guitarists from around the world will gather at the Yukon Arts Centre.

International Guitar Night allows guitarists with diverse musical styles and backgrounds to play off one other and create one-of-a-kind collaborations.

San Francisco’s “guitar poet” Brian Gore founded the series in 1995.

For the latest tour, he will be joined by the unique open-tuned style of Madagascar’s guitar wizard D’Gary.

Clive Carroll, another member of the accomplished lineup, is described by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as “the best and most original young acoustic guitar player and composer in Britain.”

And Canada’s own nuevo flamenco star Miguel de la Bastide adds his explosive technique and unique sensitivity to the mix.

“It’s a guitar summit, but it’s a little different from guitar summits in the past,” said Gore.

“It started in a grassroots way, rather than a music manager saying, ‘why don’t we put these guitarists together.’”

It all started in a little Bodega in San Francisco as a series of informal jams.

“It was a multiple guitar night that lasted three or four hours. Nobody left early and we always had a large crowd,” said Gore.

“I thought, ‘hey, we could get something like this show into a bigger venues.’ We could have the same feeling of excitement and draw even bigger crowds.”

From these humble roots, the guitar night grew into the international success it has become today.

But, the show was not embraced by everyone.

Many people were uncomfortable with the audacity of mixing such diverse guitar styles.

“The guitar world is kind of run by aficionados,” said Gore.

“And in the past, guitarists were really purists — there were jazz players who only played jazz and classical players that only played classical.

“But the new generation is much more eclectic and we’ve tapped into that sensibility.”

At a small regional concert, Gore booked a mandolin player with a Brazilian classical guitarist.

It didn’t take long though for people to recognize that there is a lot that classical guitarists have in common with bluegrass musicians, said Gore.

He’s continued to mess with guitar conventions.

“When you get someone like Clive Carroll playing with someone like D’Gary, there’s a kind of similarity in the cultural difference,” he said.

Ahead of each recording or tour there isn’t much preparation for the original collaborations, aside from trading a few MP3s back and forth.

“If we’re lucky we get together three days before the show,” said Gore.

“It’s not easy, but its also incredibly fun.”

Gore describes himself as a songwriter and lyricist.

He started out like many young musicians — in an indy band in junior high school.

When he was about 15, Gore became interested in solo guitar and starting playing stream of conscious, instrumental songs.

After years of just playing whatever happened to come out, he noticed that there were some common themes running throughout his music.

He decided to take some of the regular improvisations and make them into songs.

At 30, he took this repertoire and began to perform and record.

“I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer,” said Gore.

“Creating original music on the guitar can be a very difficult and long process.”

And the learning process is on going.

You learn a lot just watching some of the other international players in the series, he said.

“I notice really small things that people do, and a month afterwards I can see that I’ve assimilated it.

“That’s a really wonderful feeling because I feel like I have all these players that I’ve worked with floating in my musical blood stream.

“But it’s still important to be original,” he added.

Gore had asked D’Gary to join the International Guitar Night before but the busy Madagascan star was unable to participate.

Almost two years after the initial request, Gore was surprise to receive an e-mail from him saying that he’d like to be part of the show.

“D’Gary is someone that I’ve known about since the ‘80s,” said Gore.

“For years I’ve been listening to his albums and thinking, ‘what would it be like to play with him?’

    “And then all of a sudden he’s sitting right next to you.”

This is Carroll’s second tour with Gore.

“The guy’s extremely talented he’s got amazing chops and he’s really versatile,” said Gore.

“He’s one of the top players that I’ve met in the guitar world. Period.”

Gore also thought that it was important to have a Canadian on the Canadian Tour.

De la Bastide was the obvious choice.

“I listen to a lot of flamenco guitar and his stuff is very authentic, but it’s also very original,” said Gore.

“I think that makes him really unique.”

It’s only taken 12 years for Gore to achieve his initial goals for the project.

They’ve produced an International Guitar Night album, the tour is going well, and for the first time this year the series will head to Europe.

Gore wants to see the tour continue to grow.

“My new goal is that all the performers have a living wage. IGN helps people with their careers, but I want people to also have the financial benefits that they deserve,” he said.

“We’re trying to build a sustainable future for guitarists.”

International Guitar Night will take to the stage at 8pm this Sunday Night.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children and seniors, and $5 with an ArtRush Teen Pass.