What do you get when you mix together a Gypsy jazz legend, a modern fingerstyle innovator, an acoustic virtuoso and an emotive guitar poet?
International Guitar Night is returning to UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium Jan. 17, bringing four extremely talented guitarists to the university stage. IGN founder Brian Gore is coming back to the Island with world-renowned instrumentalists Lulo Reinhardt, André Krengel and Mike Dawes, making for a diverse cast of musical cultures, influences and styles.
Gore started IGN 20-some years ago as a musical showcase “in the bodegas of San Francisco,” but looking back on its history, he noted that Vancouver Island holds some significance in the tour’s growing popularity.
“Interestingly enough, Vancouver Island was one of the first places outside of the Bay Area that we ever did the show, in Duncan,” he said. “It’s been going for more than 20 years now, and Vancouver Island has always been a very special and important place for the show because we’ve been going there for so many years.”
Gore got his start on a six-string at the age of 12 as a tool for songwriting with lyrics, but at 16 he gravitated toward more instrumental pieces. While he developed his own repertoire of original tunes through college, he said he never really thought about being a professional guitarist.
“I kind of stumbled into it,” he said. “One night, I walked into this club in North Beach in San Francisco, and the owner was playing flamenco guitar. After his set, he asked if anybody in the audience played guitar.
“I was sitting at the bar and my friend said, ‘Brian plays guitar,’ and so they gave me a guitar and I played a little bit. I was very, very embarrassed, and this guy was there and he said, ‘Hey, you’re really good, I’d like to give you a concert.’ That’s really how I started realizing that maybe I could do this for a living.”
Since then, Gore has toured extensively through the U.S., Canada and Europe, bringing dozens of other talented musicians with him. This year’s lineup includes fusional axeman Reinhardt, self-taught multicultural artist Krengel and U.K. percussive-oriented fingerpicker Dawes.
“Reinhardt does music that it’s his own original style of music, but it’s influenced by the music of his culture and his family,” said Gore. “He’s got this very swing-oriented style that also integrates lots of Latin rhythms and Spanish rhythms.
“(Dawes) has his own style that uses slaps and taps and hammer-ons and pull-offs to basically be a one-man band. And (Krengel) basically has taught himself all the music that he loves by travelling around the world and learning about it.”
Prior to the IGN tour, the four guitarists embarked on a smaller string of shows in Europe, both as a way to rehearse and to develop set lists that highlight their individual works and group efforts.
“What’s wonderful about it is that every year it’s different,” said Gore. “We typically get together just before the tour starts and come up with an all-original program that features not just the solo pieces from each artist, but also collaborations.
“That’s something that makes the show very, very special for the audience. They get to see different people coming every year and we are doing something totally new, pretty much, every year. It’s really fun, for them and for us.”
The tour kicks off Jan. 15 in Nanaimo, with the IGN making its way to UVic on Jan. 17. Tickets are $35 each ($25 for seniors, students and alumni) and are available through the UVic box office, by phone at 250-721-8480 or at tickets.uvic.ca. Books of four tickets for $100 are also available by calling the ticket centre.
For more information, visit internationalguitarnight.com.