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The blues comes around for the 18th time

Jazz, blues, classical or jangly pop… Whatever your bag, you don’t need to know your A-string from your elbow to get into the vibe of the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain which strikes a chord across Wirral for the next two weeks.

Published on October 31st 2006.

The blues comes around for the 18th time

Is your mojo working? Are you still thrumming, strumming and sliding your way around the house, trying to start a conversation about the merits of the humbucking pick-up and then feeling that people just don’t understand you? If so, there’s only one place to be over the next couple of weeks: Wirral - for that annual muso hoopla, the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.

The event comes of age this time, celebrating 18 years of guitar picking, with opening headliner Nils Lofgren, a man as famous for demonstrating his fancy fretwork while bouncing up and down on the trampoline as he is for being an ex-member of Bruce Spring-steen’s E Street Band. He’ll be appearing at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion on Tuesday (Nov 7).

The other star turn is former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who isn’t such a Jumpin’ Jack Flash as the sprightly Nils these days - he is 70, after all - although, as we know, he has had his moments. For his show at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, the Sticky Fingers restaurant owner is accompanied by his Rhythm Kings on the musical menu (members have included Georgie Fame and Albert Lee) who will be serving up plenty of Fats Waller and Louis Jordan-inspired sounds.

Astonishingly, Wyman fell in love with the sound of the bass after hearing it at a Barron Knights concert. He redeemed himself by creating the first fretless electric bass. “So what?” you might say, but this is the kind of orgasmic nugget that some git’ festival devotees can’t get enough of. And you know who you are, oh yes, because you are all booked in to rub your machine heads at the “Taking Care of Your Electric Guitar and Bass” course at Pacific Road Arts Centre this Saturday.

But, hey, in truth, the guitar festival provides no better way of livening up the crisp November nights in the lull between Halloween and Christmas, and this year organisers promise “a breathtaking line-up of performers and musical styles” including Martin Taylor, Woody Mann and Bert Jansch, as well as festival stalwarts Nick Harper and the Steve Gibbons Band. Venues across Wirral include Birkenhead Town Hall where Peter Price will be playing - no, thank you very much, not that one - the Iron Door and Birkenhead Priory, Merseyside’s oldest standing building which will provide a spectacular backdrop to a number of solo performances with candles and mulled wine to get you in the mood.

“For every concert that you attend with a performer you know already – get a ticket for one that you don’t and see what else you are missing,“ organisers urge.

Who said guitar groups were dead?

International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, Nov 7-Nov 26, various venues. Tel; Pacific Road Arts Centre (0151 674 0752) or Floral Pavilion (0151 639 4360) for bookings.

Angie Sammons
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