The first, annual Adelaide International Guitar Festival concluded on Sunday with an homage to the music of arguably the world’s greatest, rock guitarist – Jimi Hendrix – with over 4,000 people packed into Elder Park. With a genuinely unique line-up of many of the world’s best, it was a fitting way to end an extraordinary feast of music.
For the past 10 days, over 70 artists have entertained, amused and educated guitar-lovers from across the globe. There’s been finger-pickers & shredders, slide maestros and virtuosos from all genres who have offered a range of extraordinary experiences for concert-goers of all tastes.
As expected, Adelaide audiences embraced the event in their thousands – from dad’s and kids in “Metallica” T-Shirts to the glitterati in their tuxes – with “smiling” the most common expression on people’s faces. The atmosphere at the Festival Centre was undoubtedly lifted even further by the number of impromptu “performances”, in the café and surrounds, after concerts when musicians strapped on their guitar and started playing for each other. The opportunity to freely mingle with some of the world’s greats over a coffee or beer in the Wah-Bar was certainly not missed by many audience members.
Over 30,000 attendees have enjoyed over a week of the best music to be heard anywhere on the planet. Event Producer, Christine Schloithe, adds, “We've been absolutely delighted with the glowing responses from both audiences and artists to this new music festival. Our artists, without exception, have expressed their wish to come back in future years and audiences are already saying how much they will be looking forward to 2008”.
Adelaide’s “Guiness Book of World Records” attempt to have the largest guitar-band in the world kicked off proceedings, with over 2,000 people in Elder Park on a balmy Friday evening. The Australian record now resides in Adelaide with a new attempt already planned for the 2008 program.
Concerts by Slava Grigoryan, Kaki King, Jeff Lang & Guests and Caliente were all sold out. The co-production between the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Festival Centre “Rhapsodie Espagnole” was a major success with the Festival Theatre itself close to capacity each night. Artist Masterclasses, forums and workshops were firm favourites, regardless of topic or genre.
Artist-In-Residence, Jeff Lang said, “It has been great being here for the duration of the event. Catching up with friends, and making new friends is what it’s all about. The best part was playing with, and learning from, new people which only makes me a better player. It has been an inspiring and thoroughly professional event to be a part of”.
Musical highlights included Juan Martín on opening night wowing all who saw him perform. Vernon Reid’s set as part of “On The Verge” had hundreds rushing to the front of the stage to get closer to the action. The Pigram Brothers, joined by Richard Clapton during “Rips & Riffs” was a unique moment in musical history, with some audience members (and staff) moved to tears and Dave Hole’s version of Purple Haze was a music tour de force at the conclusion of “Slideshow – Masters of the Slide Guitar”, when he masterfully filled Cindy Cashdollar’s vacant spot.
The myriad of exhibitions were very well received. The photographic mastery of Danny Clinch and his series of candid shots of guitarists from house-hold names such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tom Petty and Johnny Cash – all caught in unguarded moments - to the 10 year old Portuguese “fado” player standing on a chair in his mother’s kitchen. Ian Stehlig’s guitar collection drew gasps from passers-by and Vernon Reid’s “Artifical Afrika”, which included an artist talk and performance, was exhilarating and informative.
The festival’s other Artist -In-Residence, former Jefferson Airplane member Jorma Kaukonen couldn’t congratulate the organisers more. “I have never been involved with such an impressive and well-organised event. The calibre of artists and behind-the-scenes staff has been a joy to be involved with.”
Jazz great Martin Taylor, who flew from London and was in Adelaide for just over 30 hours in total, said ”I didn’t want to miss it. I’ve played at many festivals and I can’t believe the quality of artists you have assembled here. The professional management of this (event) puts many others around the world to shame”.
Planning for the 2008 event is well underway. Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director, Douglas Gautier said, “This first AIGF line up has included some of the world's very best guitarists. It has been an impressive foundation on which to build the Festival's reputation for future years. Not only do we now hold the National record for biggest guitar band, we are confident of grabbing the world record at the next Festival.”

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