Confession: I’m a guitar nerd. Unashamedly so and if there’s ever an opportunity to go along to an event that is purely about the six strings in all their glory, I’m there.
The Melbourne Guitar Show is such an event. A super indulgent weekend that is filled with live performances (focused on guitars), workshops (focused on guitars), gear demos (focused on guitars) and two levels of shiny new guitars, amplifiers, effects gear, strings, straps…the list goes on.
Held at Caulfield Racecourse in various halls, lounges & slightly odd betting arenas over 3 levels, the MGS has become a must attend event on the Melbourne music scene calendar. The two-day event consists of a vast array of exhibitors, workshops & demos (as I mentioned previously), but the real draw card for me is the live performances. It’s a really fantastic opportunity to see world-class guitarists in solo or band contexts, doing their ‘thing’ plus giving valuable insights on their guitars and songs. Normally you wouldn’t get this level of insight at a regular show at the risk of boring all the non-guitarists in the room. But at the MGS you can hear Sarah McLeod (Superjesus) talk about how she has replaced and modified pick-ups to allow her guitar to play bass and regular guitar simultaneously or hear Jimi Hocking (The Screaming Jets) indulge us in high detail about guitar amplifiers and how he controls guitar tone through the use of the volume knob on the guitar. But not only do you get guitar nerd related insights, but you get to hear them play and play and play. Extended guitar solos are rife, guitar shredding is rampant, rock poses are everywhere and encouraged, while ‘guitar faces’ are at epidemic levels….and we love it.
While it is physically impossible to see everything over the two-day event, you can go hard, jumping from room to room (which is what I did) absorbing as much as possible, although the rooms do lack a bit of ‘atmosphere’ as after all, it is a race course. As you leave one stage filled with the blues, you walk a few steps and be embraced with prog/metal/rock at the next stage or classical fingerstyle playing or country honk or straight up rock and roll. There really is something for everyone.
The standouts for me from the live performances were varied. Melbourne based blues artist Anna Scionti brought her honest and raw, foot stomping tunes played on cigar box and vintage electric guitars and was a highlight giving commentary on each instrument as she went. Minnie Marks and Ash Grunwald were solid performers and obvious that they had been playing for a long time, while elder statesmen Phil Manning and Chris Finnan brought gravitas to the event. Multi-instrumentalist James Norbet Ivanyi and band played a fantastic set of instrumental tunes as did Robyn Payne’s Engine Room. These are just a few of my standouts, there were many more over the jam-packed event.
It’s heartening to know this event continues to run each year and I hope it continues for many more as it serves as a real encouragement to guitarist of all levels, proficiencies and genres.