From Thursday August 9 to Sunday August 12, the versatile instrument will be celebrated through a variety of performances, workshops, exhibits and talks, in a packed program bursting with talent. Whether you’re a rock fan, acoustic lover, jazz aficionado or blues enthusiast; there’s something here for everyone. Here are our picks from this year’s program, as well as some other iconic music venues to visit while you’re in town.
Aussie guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel will be joining forces with Spain’s Javier Gonzalez and Nashville’s Richard Smith for a night of acoustic wizardry. Known for his complex fingerpicking technique, Emmanuel has been playing the guitar for nearly sixty years, and heralds Chet Atkins as one of his greatest influences. With 27 studio albums and nine ARIA’s under his belt, this is your chance to catch one of Australia’s most prolific acoustic guitarists live in action.
Festival Theatre, Thursday August 9
This year’s program is littered with guitar greats, including none other than the UK’s Albert Lee. From Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris, to Joe Cocker and The Everly Brothers, Lee has worked with plenty of big names in music over his long and fruitful career. He’s a master of the electric guitar, and is as comfortable shredding to rock’n’roll as he is playing the softer sounds of Americana and country. At 75 years old, Lee’s an impressive performer who still gives the young guns a run for their money.
Festival Theatre, Saturday August 11
Even if you aren’t familiar with the name Kaki King, this is one performance you won’t easily forget. She’ll be bringing her multimedia show A Neck Is A Bridge To The Body to the Adelaide Guitar Festival for the first time, combining dynamic playing techniques with stunning visual art. An array of textures, skins, and imagery will be projected onto her guitar as she strums through her setlist, resulting in a unique audio-visual experience. It’s sure to be a sensory overload.
Dunstan Playhouse, Saturday August 11
Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello – these are just a few artists that American composer and collaborator Marc Ribot has worked with across his 40-year career. He’s a genre-bending chameleon whose music has covered a range of styles, from jazz and experimental Cuban, to no wave and rock. Diverse and prolific, Ribot is something of a living guitar legend, with a catalogue of 25 solo albums and numerous collaborations. This is your chance to bask in the greatness of a true pioneer.
Dunstan Playhouse, Sunday August 12
Abbe May is a formidable female presence in the Australian music industry, not one to shy away from hard-hitting subjects and open expressions of sexuality. Known for her poetic and insightful lyricism as well as her talented guitar playing, May has scored herself 19 West Australian Music Awards, as well as ARIA and AIR award nominations. Her music is gritty, soulful and raw, with hints of rock, electronica, blues and gospel littered throughout, displaying her versatility as an artist. She’ll be joined by local band The Limpettes, for a night celebrating Adelaide’s fierce females of guitar.
Adelaide Festival Centre’s Twelve Bar, Saturday August 11
This year’s festival will finish with a bang thanks to a night of stellar musicians. South Africa’s Derek Gripper will be there, he’s a unique performer known for his adaptation of West African kora music (designed for a 21-string harp) to acoustic guitar. He’ll be joined by Brazil’s Chrystian Dozza, as well as China’s Beijing Guitar Duo and Australia’s Grigoryan Brothers, who will be joining forces for a collaborative quartet. Rounding out the night will be Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium Guitar Ensemble, the Aurora Guitar Ensemble and the Adelaide Guitar Festival Orchestra.
Festival Theatre, Sunday August 12
While you’re sticking around for the four-day festival, try to catch a gig at Jive on Hindley Street. There’s always something going on at this former theatre, which hosts a mixture of local and international acts. You’ll be able to catch LANKS, The Babe Rainbow, Gretta Ray or Movements if you’ll be around during August, plus resident DJ Craig, who spins indie tracks every Saturday night after the live bands have wrapped up. Check out their website to see what’s coming up.
181 Hindley Street
This is one of the most historic and iconic live music venues in Adelaide, having been around since 1893, when it was known as The Launceston. The live music stage was built in 1998 when the hotel got its current name, and since then has hosted a bevy of well-known musicians including Dave Graney, Old Man River, Holly Throsby and Paul Kelly. There’s bands on pretty much every night of the week, with Mondays reserved specially for Billy Bob’s BBQ Jam – an open mic night in which anyone is welcome to get involved. Make sure to pop into this pub for a taste of Adelaide’s music history.
232 Waymouth Street
If you’re a sucker for old-fashioned CD or vinyl, then put Clarity Records on your Adelaide itinerary. Located in the CBD, Clarity Records is the brainchild of Matt and Laura Horvath, who opened the store to help fill the hole in Adelaide’s independent music scene. They stock a huge range of CDs, vinyl and other merchandise from around the world, with a particular focus on supporting independent bands and local musos. There’s a listening station instore so you can try before you buy, but the best way to choose something is to have a chat to the staff; trust us, they know their stuff.
60 Pulteney Street
This article is proudly sponsored by City of Adelaide, in partnership with Beat Magazine. Head to cityofadelaide.com.au/winter to check out more winter activities.