Copper Mountain’s Guitar Town brings top acoustic, electric guitarists
If you go:
What: Guitar Town 2017
Where: Copper Mountain Resort
When: Friday, Aug. 11, Saturday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 13
Cost: Free admission
More information: CopperGuitarTown.com
Guitar Town returns to Copper Mountain Resort Aug. 11-13. Among the many marquee names featured this year is Guitar Army, which consists of three world-class musicians: John Jorgenson, Lee Roy Parnell and Joe Robinson. Jorgenson is a Grammy award-winner who has performed with musical legends, such as Elton John, Sting, Billy Joel and Bob Dylan.
“John can play any instrument under the sun,” said Parnell.
Aside from his incredible guitar skills, Jorgenson plays the saxophone, clarinet, bouzouki, pedal steel, mandolin and has commanding vocals. Jorgenson is a ‘John of all trades.’ He began his music career at an early age, as both of his parents were music educators — his mom, a piano teacher and his father, a conductor.
Jorgenson toured for six years with Elton John in the ’90s, and currently tours worldwide with his three bands: John Jorgenson Quintet, John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band and John Jorgenson Electric Band. Since the start of Guitar Town, Jorgenson has only missed one year of the festival and is a key figure in choosing which bands and performers attend, as well as helping to organize the daily jam sessions between the artists in attendance.
“I’m sort of the mayor of Guitar Town,” said Jorgenson.
As part of their Guitar Army debut, Jorgenson and Robinson collaborated in recording a new song called “An Army of Guitars.” Jorgenson brought lyrics to Robinson, who had music to pair with the lyrical side.
“It might become our theme song. It takes the negative, war-like side out of army,” said Jorgenson. “Music is a unifying force, not a destructive force.”
Robinson, an additional member of Guitar Army, is an Australian prodigy who began performing at the age of 11. He won the Australian National Songwriting Competition at 13 years old and won Australia’s Got Talent at 17 years old. Robinson, now 26, has developed an electric-guitar-centric sound, branching out from his typical acoustic work and trio performances.
He’s written more than 80 songs so far in his career and hopes to begin recording a new album this year. Robinson, who’s toured with Tommy Emmanuel and Rodney Crowell, is a force to be reckoned with.
Rounding out the group is Parnell, a Texas native who has earned two Grammy award-nominations for his instrumental tracks “Cat Walk” and “Mama Screw Your Wig On Tight.” Gibson even honored Parnell with a signature guitar named after him. Parnell has brought his musical prowess from Austin, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas — during his early days in clubs and bars — to New York City, back to Texas and most recently to Nashville. Here he has a new foundation and has been working on a new album, which will release today.
His new record, “Midnight Believer,” is infused with Delta rhythm and blues roots. Parnell collaborated solely with Greg Barnhill on the songwriting in his new album.
“We wrote everything on the record. It’s 10 songs. We wrote 20 or 30 songs for the album, but chose 10 that fit together. It’s got a swampy feel,” said Parnell.
After roughly three years of working on the record, Parnell will be debuting new songs off “Midnight Believer” this weekend with Guitar Army.
“This is the kickoff show. It’s more free form. We pick the first song and the last song,” said Parnell.
All three of these guitar virtuosos will showcase their compelling songs, soulful singing and distinct ways of playing the guitar. Each artist in Guitar Army has picked four or five of their own songs to play with the others.
“I’m excited and nervous. It’s our first time playing an organized show together,” said Jorgenson. “But, sometimes that nervous energy can be a benefit.”
Robinson, Jorgenson and Parnell will all be showcasing original songs, and will accompany each other. They will also be a part of the daily jam sessions between artists in attendance.
“I love learning. I’ll be around the best of the best,” said Parnell. “This weekend you’ll see some of the best guitar players in the world.”
This world-class lineup is free to the public and is broken up into three parts. Today, there will be a kickoff bash, featuring Zepparella, an all-female Led Zeppelin cover band with noted guitarist Gretchen Menn. They take the Burning Stones Plaza Main Stage at Copper Mountain Resort at 6:30 p.m. and play an hour and a half set. Catch the opportunity to meet Menn after the show at the 8 p.m. “She Rocks” film showing and meet and greet.
Saturday, Aug. 12, is Acoustic Day, featuring nearly 10 world renowned acoustic performances by Scott Goldman, Corey Congilio, Richard Smith, Striking Matches, Diego Figueiredo, Robinson, Doyle Dykes, John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band and headliner, Tommy Emmanuel.
Sunday, Aug. 13, is Electric Day, featuring the very best guitarists on earth in their respective styles. Casey James, Bob Margolin, Harvey Mandel, Stig Mathisen, Guitar Army (Robinson, Jorgenson and Parnell) and headliner Zakk Wylde are the performers comprising the electric-filled Sunday of Guitar Town.
Every morning there will be workshops with all the performing artists at the festival on their respective day. There will be all-star jams every day as well, with once-in-a-lifetime collaborations happening on the main stage. For more information on this incredible festival, visit CopperGuitarTown.com.
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