Seattle's Experimental Music Project (EMP) includes a museum of historical musical artifacts; among them, an evolutionary chain of instruments leading up to the modern day guitar. Everything from bowl harps to Stratocasters are on display, and placards delineating the instrument's evolution; all told, a rather flat-noted way to show off one of the most dynamic, rocking and important instruments known to man.
Beginning Jan. 22—and lasting eight days at the Tower Theatre—the Bend Guitar Blast aims to put some life and pluck into that history; everything form sashaying Hawaiian tunes to thumping, take-no-prisoners '50s rock.
According to former Bendite and Guitar Blast performer John Storie—who leads the New West Guitar Group, a trio of guitarists who play jazz-pop fusion with crisp harmonizing strings—his love of the guitar started early for him, and in a way that was like handing down traditions from previous generations.
"My mom started me on piano when I was four, and I almost immediately asked her if I could learn guitar," remembered Storie in an interview with the Source. "I was drawn to the guitar as a toddler because I thought it was a cool toy. Back when I started learning how to play I immediately tried to imitate my favorite musicians."
With a nod to that mentorship tradition—which has passed down guitar licks from Chuck Berry to Jimi Hendrix to Eddie Van Halen, and so on—one part of the Bend Guitar Blast that most excites Storie is a workshop he and his band mates will teach Jan. 22 on improvisation.
In addition, the event features concerts by the likes of composer Bill Frisell and the flute/guitar combo of Cavatina Duo, as well as classes on classical and slack guitar hosted by the Omaha Guitar Trio and Jeff Peterson.
"We're excited to meet guitar students in the area and share with them some of our skills as improvisers," said Storie. "Especially exchanging information on how to listen to jazz and adapt improvisation in their own music."
With a rich catalogue of traditional classical, jazz, slack, and pop guitar on display, alongside evolutionary sounds like the two-handed slap approach of Christie Lenee, the Bend Guitar Blast is truly a school of rock.
Bend Guitar Blast
California & Montreal Guitar Trios
Jan 23, New West Guitar Group
Jan 24, Cavatina Duo & Omaha Guitar Trio
Jan 26, Jeff Peterson
Jan 27, "Pat Metheny's Orchestrion Project" film
Jan 28, Bill Frisell "Guitar in the Space Age"
Jan 29, Christie Lenee
Jan 30, International Guitar Night
835 N.W. Wall St.
Tickets at www.towertheatre.org