When International Guitar Night hits Vancouver Island Sunday, it will be a nice reminder for organizer Brian Gore of the way the concert series has grown.
A 1996 concert in Duncan marked a turning point for the then-fledgling event. That was the first time they booked a theatre - previously, Gore had gathered string-savvy musicians in clubs and bodegas around his home city of San Francisco.
"From that, we were able to get an agency because it was a successful show," he said. "Victoria and Vancouver Island have been a really huge part of the success of International Guitar Night."
Since then, the tour has spread across North America and into Europe. Gore estimated that more than 50 musicians have participated over the years from around the globe. He's now filling the bill with musicians who all headline in their own right - a change from those early club shows.
As usual, Gore will perform at Sunday's concert, which starts at 8 p.m. at the University of Victoria's University Centre Farquhar Auditorium. Known as the "guitar poet," he released a multimedia project inspired by the Santa Cruz landscape with illustrator Bill Russell.
He'll be joined by Scottish jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, best known for his finger-picking, chord melodies and walking bass lines. Taylor has collaborated with Jeff Beck, Tommy Emmanuel, Chet Atkins and more. His work has been recognized with a BBC lifetime achievement award, two honorary doctorates and 13 British Jazz Awards.
Solo Razafindrakoto, known as Solorazaf, rounds out the bill. The French-Malagasy guitarist was among the first studio musicians in Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo. Self-taught, he went on to play lead guitar for Miriam Makeba, touring with the South African singer and
civil rights activist for 15 years. He also toured with Nina Simone, but now goes solo.
Brazil's Guinga, originally scheduled to perform, has cancelled due to health problems. "I like to tell people I have a very privileged position, sitting stage right to some of the finest players you'll see anywhere in the world of guitar," said Gore, adding he seeks out musicians who are not just technically good, but talented with an audience.
"We're not just looking at them in terms of, 'Wouldn't it be great if we had this super famous person?' " he said. "It's more along the lines of: 'This person's music is great.' "
For tickets - $30 regular, $15 for students, seniors and alumni - call 250-7218480 or go to tickets.uvic.ca
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