The biennial New York Guitar Festival is heading Down Under.
With its co-founder David Spelman acting as artistic advisor and international program consultant, the Australian version from Nov. 23 to Dec. 2 is branded the Adelaide International Guitar Festival.
It is the initiative of the Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the venue’s CEO Douglas Gautier’s five-year plan to double its attendance.
Festival chief executive Christine Schloithe tells Billboard.biz the event hopes to draw 45,000 attendees from around the world in its first year.
While the Adelaide Festival Centre will market the event to guitar lovers here and abroad, the South Australian Tourism Commission will further promote it as part of a broader campaign to brand South Australia as “the festival state”, acting minister for the arts John Hill said at Monday’s launch.
The state government has committed A$500,000 ($410,000) a year in funding for four years, with the rest of the annual A$2.6 million ($2.2 million) budget gathered from box office receipts and sponsorship.
The Australian festival has adopted the New York event’s policy of having musicians from different styles performing together. The guitarists hail from the United States, Brazil, Spain, Britain, Palestine and India. Former Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna member Jorma Kaukonen will be its artist-in-residence, as will Australian blues guitar virtuoso Jeff Lang.
The 40 festival events include multi-genre showcases; seminars ranging from the sounds of guitar in the late 21st century to the problems faced by women players; a visual art exhibition by guitarists; and a star-studded tribute to Jimi Hendrix featuring guitarists such as Kaukonen, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, John Hammond and local players as Midnight Oil’s Jim Miginie and Magic Dirt’s Adalita Srsen.
“But the program draws heavily on creating an Australian identity for this event right from the first year,” Schloithe points out. These include a showcase of Australian surf music and a panel that investigates the links between Australian and American roots music. At least 78 of the 130 performers are locals.