It's that time again, yet another Guitar Idol final where we get to see an array of guitarists from around the world to do battle for that coveted title - "Guitar Idol".
This third competition has been plagued by misfortune to say the least. Lots of false starts and postponed deadlines, lots of rescheduiling of events and fighting to actually get a live final. At long last, Lick Library have sprung to the rescue and hosted a full day event at London's Relentless Garage. Read on for a full review.
Tickets cost just £15 and for that price you are given a free Lick Library DVD. There is the option to purchase tickets for additional mastercalsses with Lick Library tutors, Andy James, Stuart Bull, Jamie Humphries, Danny Gill or Michael Casswell - I didn't grab any of these as I didn't want to miss any of the main show, but I caught up with Andy as he was coming in, and again afterwards and I hear that attendance was good.
The day kicks off at 3PM with Tom Quayle and Rick Graham hosting a public masterclass. It's always nice to get to see Tom play and it was a pleasure to meet Rick at long last. The guys are on top form covering everything from hybrid picking and economy picking to fretboard knowledge using scales and triads. I've always done my best to try and get a grip on every approach here, but Tom manages to show me a new way of looking at the fretboard which will certainly go down well with my students.
The nice thing about this event is that all the guys are hanging out in the bar area, so you dont need a VIP pass to get to talk with the top guys at this show and the guys are more than happy to sit and talk to people. It was great to have Tom, Rick, Martin (Miller) and myself in one place - If Andy Wood had made it we would have had a full Suhr Mega Jam!
Tom Quayle, Martin Miller, Levi Clay and Rick Graham
After the masterclass a couple more guys take to the stage, all provided by the ICMP. Steve Smyth treats the crowd to some brutal metal - though it's all backing tracks (with vocals) and people quickly move over to the bar. It's now we realise how few people are actually here as with everyone at the bar there is literally noone on the floor. This is a big shame as people should be making the effort to get to see guys like Andy James and Tom Quayle at any chance they can get. This isn't really a reflection on the event, more on the sad state that the guitar community finds itself in. Not to mention just how many great guitarists were there to talk to; at one point I turned round and the mighty Alex Hutchings was just behind me.
The main interactive element to the show is the guitaraoke jam competition where anyone is given the chance to go up on stage with Lick Library tutors to jam over backing tracks that were available weeks before the show. Owen Edwards nudged me in the direction of the sign up sheet and I took to the stage to play a (rather tasteless!) blues with my good friend Andy James. The only highlight here is that I got to play Tom's guitar, forcing him to put it in standard tuning for me! Overall the competition is good fun to watch and as expected most people want to jam with Andy. It was great to see the other tutors play, especially Michael Casswell who was the epitome of taste.
The winner, as announced on the Lick Library, site was Sam French, though my personal pick was Doug Cartwright - an epic display or high energy rock polished off with some Buckethead tapping licks. Well played sir!
Now onto the guitar idol final, over 1000 contestants (including myself and L4G's Chris Geden) whittled down to 12. There are some who certainly deserve to be here and showcase some serious talent. Unfortunately (as with any public vote) there are a fair share of players accused of vote rigging, which is a shame as there were some seriously great players who didn't make the final that deserved to.
Below is a list of our finalists, along with their live video. Please do take the time to check them out and see who you think you'd crown. Special mention must, of course, go to Dave Marks and Ed Broad for being a rock steady band and really making this a live experience.
Ignazio Di Salvo
Ok, now you've seen all the videos, who would you crown winner of Guitar Idol 2011? The judges went with Don Alder who I really enjoyed - but I think giving the prize to an acoustic player was extremely unfair on those electric players who flew around the world for this show at great expense. Ultimately, they stood no chance as an acoustic player was always going to stand out, but cest la vie.
Nico was awarded best newcomer by Rockschool and Marius Pop was awarded the Jaden Rose guitar.
I went into this final certain that Nico Schliemann was going to win, he was one of the only guys who seemed to give a damn about the tune, and I still find myself singing his chorus. Add to that he has impeccable tone and phrasing, I was pretty sure he had this one.
The other guys I had high expectations for were definitely Jack Gardiner, Ignazio Di Salvo and Hedras Ramos. These three guys have all been creating a great buzz on the scene recently and are at the top of their games. In fact Jack was the big surprise and I think he stole the show - he was the winner for me, with Nico taking a close second place (perhaps due to the short tune - I wanted that chorus one more time!).
The big shock was Alexander Pozdynakov who I hadn't followed much before. His tune was great and he played really well. Definitely my pick for best newcomer. Well done mate and keep us posted of what you're up to in the future.
After the results are announced the Lick Library tutors take to the stage to play sets for anyone still hanging around. Unfortunately turnout is a bit grim at this stage as people start to filter out. This is a big shame really. It's been a long day for everyone and we all just need a break so I head over the road to a pub with most of the finalists to grab a few more drinks and to talk about the show.
What are your thoughts on the results? Who were your top picks? Sound off below!