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7th Annual Alternative Guitar Summit Features Headliner Pat Metheny

By Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor ZEALnyc, March 7, 2017

Last year in talking to the founder and producer of the annual Alternative Guitar Summit, Joel Harrison called the event a labor of love that he likens to the idea of having a “musical commons.” He explained, “It’s my small part to add to the musical landscape in New York. It’s filling a void, and it’s also for me a satisfying creative endeavor beyond just playing in my bands.”

Harrison concluded our conversation with the future by promising to continue its “While We’re Still Here” theme. He said he already had ideas for this year but didn’t want to divulge the name. He threw into the mix a quote from jazz guitar superstar Pat Metheny: “It has been exciting to watch the Alt Guitar Summit emerge as one of the most interesting and distinguished forums for our instrument on the planet. The work that Joel has done with this festival to showcase the development of the guitar and the expanded role that it has taken in music is a testament to the almost unlimited sonic dimensions the word ‘guitar’ can invoke in the imagination of musicians and fans alike.”

Well, the name up Harrison’s sleeve last year happened to be Pat Metheny, who will highlight this year’s Guitar Summit. Seven guitar-fueled acts will perform 14 of his pieces. There will also be a live interview with Metheny conducted by Harrison and a signing of the former’s new book that compiles 150 of his compositions.

The three-day event takes place at the following venues: March 10 at Le Poisson Rouge; March 11 at Nublu; and March 15 at National Sawdust (details below).

The following acts will be interpreting Metheny’s compositions over the course of the Friday, March 10 night at Le Poisson Rouge:

• Nels Cline w/ Gerald Cleaver and Jorge Roeder
• Rez Abbasi w/ Sameer Gupta (tabla) and Michael Gam (bass)
• Joel Harrison String Choir: Joel Harrison and Liberty Ellman (guitars), Christian Howes, Zach Brock, Tanya Kalmanovich, Hank Roberts (string quartet)
• Mike Moreno w/ Doug Weiss and Kendrick Scott
• Nir Felder w/ Matt Penman and Jimmy MacBride
• Liberty Ellman and Miles Okazaki w/ Stephan Crump and Damion Reid
• Camila Meza w/ James Francies

As Harrison promises each year with the Guitar Summit, the venues change. On Saturday, March 11 at Studio 151/Nublu, there will be an evening of “Solo Voices and Communal Raptures” with the following acts:

• Nels Cline Solo
• Rafiq Bhatia with Marcus Gilmore and Rahsaan Carter
• Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Guitar Orchestra w/ Rez Abassi, Damon Banks, Marco, Capelli, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, David Gilmore, Joel Harrison, Jerome Harris, Miles Okazaki, Kenny Wessel
• John Schott (Bay Area master!) w/ Aaron Alexander and Jerome Harris

The summit takes a six-string break until the final show takes place on Wednesday, March 15 at National Sawdust with “Guitars of Heaven, Guitars of Hell.” The lineup follows:

• Dither Guitar Quartet plays Fred Frith
• Steve Mackey (guitar) and Jason Treuting (So Percussion): excerpts from a new guitar opera entitled Orpheus Unsung
• The debut of The Resophonic Guitar Orchestra led by Joel Harrison, with Elliott Sharp, Brandon Ross, Dither, Dave Tronzo and more. New music for multiple National Steel resophonic guitars in a piece entitled “Blind Willie Johnson Rising.”
• Trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s new music with guitarists Dave Tronzo, Steve Cardenas, and special guest (who played with Bob Dylan). Also, an intimate conversation between Bernstein and three iconic guitarists. Inspired by his eight years playing the Midnight Rambles in Levon Helm’s barn, this ensemble will visit original compositions, as well as pieces by Bernstein, Ellington, the Band, the Grateful Dead and Allen Toussaint.

Find your guitar feast for an evening or for the summit’s entirety. For more information click here.

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Cover: Pat Metheny; courtesy of artist /


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