October 1st - 4th 2015 Sandwich guitar festival

2014 - An amazing first festival!

All pictures © Laura Drury 2014          

The inaugural 2014 Sandwich Guitar Festival burst onto the Sandwich scene on 2nd October 2014 with a dazzling array of concerts over 4 days from five musicians that were simply world-class!

The New-Yorker Preston Reed opened proceedings on the Thursday evening with a display of acoustic guitar virtuosity that left audience members stunned. Close your eyes and it was like listening to a talented percussionist playing alongside at least two guitarists… open them and you realised that just one musician was creating this complex mix of rhythms, melodies and percussive effects. Bob Drury, one of the festival directors said “We were so lucky to catch Preston before he returned to his homeland for an extensive autumn tour of the United States”.

Friday evening saw the UK bluesman Larry Miller on-stage with his band, drummer Graham Walker and bass player Derek White. The only superfluous items in the room that night were the chairs as it was almost inevitable that Larry would have everyone on their feet and clapping along to a mixture of 70’s blues classics from the likes of Hendrix and Rory Gallagher plus Larry’s own blistering blues compositions. Immediately after the gig Larry and his band headed off in the band van (very rock and roll) on a night ‘channel tunnel’ train to the continent for a tour of Germany!

Saturday afternoon and the first workshop event: Bob Drury, festival organiser and guitarist in his own right, held a ‘blues from scratch’ session for around 25 guitarists. Some of the players were new to the guitar but by the end of the afternoon this impromptu guitar ‘orchestra’ were ripping into a ‘blues in A’ for massed guitars with some pretty wild solo playing by a number of the guitarists present! Click through to paypal to buy a copy of the tabs and CD used in this session - £5.00 inc. P+P (UK only)

Saturday evening and it was the turn of the ‘jazzers’ to take to the stage. Nigel Price (guitar) Matt Home (drums) and Ross Stanley (Hammond organ) played a pristine set of finely crafted tunes with contributions from the likes of Wes Montgomery. Nigel is rapidly becoming known as one of the best jazz guitar players in the country; indeed this gig was the ninth of a forty date 2014 UK tour! His virtuosity was match by the skills of both Ross and Matt as the three musicians took the audience on a largely improvised journey through their own unique soundscape.

Sunday, the final day of the festival, was billed as ‘nylon strings’ day and featured a charming and, at times, emotionally powerful set of tunes by the West End regular David Buckingham. David has already completed a U.S. tour this year and recently returned from China as guitarist for the dancer Carlos Acosta in the Royal Ballet’s touring production of ‘Don Quixote’. David performed his own compositions from his last two CDs and used flamenco techniques to augment his own arrangements of popular tunes such as ‘Flashdance, What a Feeling’ and ‘Cavatina’.

Three Kent based young guitarists, Jacob Turner-Dore (Canterbury), Haydn Crouchman (Sevenoaks) and Amy Perry (Dover), performed in master class for the internationally respected classical guitarist Gary Ryan. The standard of playing was high and Gary seemed delighted to add comments and suggestions to help with interpretation and technique. Gary is Professor of Guitar at London’s Royal College of Music and a regular on the international concert scene.

The programme for Gary's evening concert was impressive and varied and took the audience from Ireland, Scotland, Japan, France, America and finally to Africa with a mixture of guitar repertoire classics and his own inspired compositions. The sound of Gary's guitar in the wonderful space of St. Mary's Church was simply mesmerising and the percussive techniques and special effects Gary used in his own compositions were both unusual and inspired!

The so called ‘Festival Guitar’ was signed by all of the performers (see gallery on this page) on the front and, for a charity donation of £5.00, audience members were encouraged to sign the back of the guitar. £265.00 was raised over the four days and this will be presented to the Great Oaks Small School in Minster towards their musical equipment fund (watch this space for news…)

Laura Drury, co-director of the festival said “We’re so grateful to all of the local businesses, from restaurants and take-aways to pubs, hotels, farm shops and hairdressers for helping us let everyone know about the festival by displaying our posters and fliers… it was a great help!”

The Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sandwich were present at the closing concert. Cllr Paul Graeme made a closing speech and reminded everyone present that the festival will be back in St. Mary’s Arts Centre next year over the first weekend in October.

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