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NY Guitar Festival Celebrates No. 10

02:01 PM Saturday 12/12/09 | |

The tenth annual New York Guitar Festival begins Jan. 8, presenting more than 30 axe men and women playing every everything from jazz to classical to avant-garde. And if that isn’t enough, the artists will also lend their skills to a few movies.

The New York Guitar Festival isn’t an all-day affair in a single venue. It’s held in multiple buildings, including the Merkin Concert Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Le Poisson Rouge and the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, and runs from Jan. 8 through Feb. 4. Now that’s a festival.

Sure, we could drop a few names, like David Bromberg or Steve Kimock, but what’s really interesting about the festival is that it presents scenarios above and beyond the usual concert scene.

  • Justin Vernon (Bon Iver)

    One of more than 30 guitarists who will appear at the 10th annual New York Guitar Festival.

    (Doug Seymour)


The festival opens Jan. 8 with Hindustani slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya performing in a free show.

There’s also the all-day Guitar Marathon featuring musicians and groups such as the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, Eliot Fisk, Paul O’Dette and Ana Vidovic playing the music of J.S. Bach and other composers.

Plus, there’s a series of events showcasing silent movies while guitarists provide the live music soundtracks.

You get David Bromberg and Marc Ribot supplying the music for Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 movie “The Immigrant” and 1921’s “The Kid.” Steve Kimock and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) will tackle Chaplin’s “One A.M.” and “Easy Street” as well as Buster Keaton’s “Cops” and Alex DeGrassi and James Blackshaw will play in sync to Chaplin’s “Shoulder Arms” and James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Musician and producer David Spelman, who continues to serve as the festival’s artistic director, founded the New York Guitar Festival in 1999. The festival’s stated goal is to “broaden the public’s appreciation for the guitar by fostering emerging talent, supporting innovative collaborations among outstanding artists, and commissioning new works.” For more information, click here for the festival’s Web site.