@Fest Masters of guitar in action

Masters of guitar in action

Guitar genius explodes onto the scene this Festival, with some of South Africa’s greatest guitar talents blowing minds with harmonics, tapping, fiery frets and lightning-quick licks. These virtuosos represent innovation and dexterity at their finest, pushing the boundaries of what man can do with six strings, and turning Festival into a guitar-lovers’ dream.

This genius comes in the form of four close master class guitarists who have all, at some stage, lived, worked and played together. “With a small scene like this, it’s easy to see it as a family of guitarists,” said finger-style guitarist Guy Buttery, whose love for guitar flourished under his then-teacher, Nibs van der Spuy.

Van der Spuy comes to the stage with a solo project as well as his collaboration with Buttery, entitled In the Shade of the Wild Fig. Using both Cautro and acoustic guitar, he brings elements of Nick Drake and Graceland to produce a relaxing, hauntingly beautiful performance. Popular in France, Van der Spuy has toured Europe and has shared the stage with the likes of Ben Harper, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and renowned banjoist Bela Fleck, all masterful musicians in their own right.

Buttery is no less impressive, with a flair that takes finger-style guitar to the very edges of mastery. “I first picked up a guitar at 10, started performing at 16, and I’ve pretty much been touring ever since,” he said. Even at a young age, his talent was obvious. “He was doing ridiculous things on the guitar at just 16,” said Van der Spuy. With a 2012 SAMA award for Best Instrumental, the student is en route to becoming the master.

Another member of this illustrious group is Gary Thomas, playing for the national launch of his album, Midnight Atlas. Holder of a music degree in jazz, he has taken the various elements of contrasting musical genres and combined them into something bafflingly brilliant, seamlessly switching between relaxing tones and ear-bursting metal-influenced riffs. The result is a raw sound that has escaped the descriptive prowess of review writers across the country. “It’s the bastard child of everything beautiful,” said Thomas.

Tony Cox

Finally, bringing his musical legacy to the Festival is Zimbabwea-born Tony Cox, who will be bringing back some of his classic pieces. He has played at guitar festivals in Canada, the United States and Scotland, and has won many awards for his unforgettable, expressive contemporary finger style.

– Matthew de Klerk –

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