Legends of guitar John Jorgenson, Robben Ford at Copper Mountain | SummitDaily.com

Legends of guitar John Jorgenson, Robben Ford at Copper Mountain

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com
J2B2, the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, will once again perform at Guitar Town at Copper Mountain Resort, taking place Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9.
Courtesy of Guitar Town |

Guitar Town at Copper Mountain schedule

All events are free and open to the public. Visit www.villageatcopper.com/guitartown to learn more.

Friday, Aug. 7

4 p.m. — Guitar workshop: Learn to play guitar in a day, Hasty’s in Copper Conference Center, lower level

5 p.m. — Guitar workshop: Fingerstyle with Jim Deeming, Hasty’s

6 p.m. — Guitar set-up for Peak Performance with Robbie O’Brien, Hasty’s

7-8 p.m. — Acoustic pull: Bring your guitar and jam with other guitar enthusiasts, in front of the Fire Globe

Close — Guitar Town pre-party, Center Village restaurants and bars

Saturday, Aug. 8: Acoustic

9 a.m. — Guitar workshop: Martin acoustic, Conference Center, lower level

10 a.m. — Guitar workshop: Learn to play guitar in a day, Westlake Stage

10:30 a.m. — Guitar workshop: Musicians acoustic, Conference Center, lower level

Noon to 6 p.m. — Guitar Town Main Stage: Eric Johnson, Andy McKee, J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band), John Jorgenson Quintet, Trio Balkan Strings, Richard Smith & Rory Hoffman and Scott Goldman (fingerstyle guitarist Sean McGowan will play Westlake Stage during set changes on the Main Stage)

1 p.m. — Guitar workshop: Learn to play guitar in a day, Conference Center, lower level

About 5:45-6 p.m. — All-Star Acoustic Jam (two or three songs), Main Stage

6-8 p.m. — Acoustic Kids with Andy May Showcase, Westlake Stage

7-8 p.m. — Acoustic pull: Bring your guitar and jam with other guitar enthusiasts, in front of the Fire Globe

Close — Guitar Town after-party, Center Village restaurants and bars

Sunday, Aug. 9: Electric

10:30 a.m. — Guitar workshop: Electric, Conference Center, lower level

1 p.m. — Guitar workshop: Learn to play guitar in a day, Conference Center, lower level

Noon to 6 p.m. — Guitar Town Main Stage: Steve Vai, Robben Ford, Sonny Landreth, John Jorgenson Electric Band with special guests Chris Casello and Stig Mathisen and Matt Schofield

About 5:45-6 p.m. — All-Star Electric Jam (two or three songs), Main Stage

6:30 p.m. — ArtGuitar Gallery and Presentation, West Lake Stage

7 p.m. — Movie: “Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.,” Conference Center, lower level

Close — Guitar Town after-party, Center Village restaurants and bars

A guitar is more than a piece of curved wood, a line of inlaid frets marching down its elegant neck like rows of matchsticks ready to ignite a new melody. It’s more than strings reverberating after pickups catch a shredding lick and throw it into an awaiting amplifier.

It’s an appendage, an extension of a musician’s body that connects to his soul through his fingertips, the palm of his hand, the vibration roaring past his eardrum. It’s a seductive mistress that grows into a stalwart companion, and when you begin a love affair with the guitar, you can be sure it will last a lifetime.

Most of the stars of Copper Guitar Town began their relationships with the instrument long before developing an interest in the opposite sex, and it’s one that has created a backbone for musical careers encompassing decades of recording, touring and performing, collecting accolades and awards and, ultimately, landing them at the base of a mountain to commune with others who love the simple complexity that is the guitar.

Listen to the radio

“I just started hearing the music on the radio,” said John Jorgenson, who picked up a guitar for the first time when he was about 10 years old. “The pop music on the radio was a lot of guitar at the time, The Byrds, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, a little bit later, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin. … Almost any time I heard someone playing a guitar, whether it was folk or finger picking, rock ’n’ roll or jazz, I just loved the sound of it.”

Rather than choose a genre from that melting pot of influences, he seems to be collecting them all, fronting three different bands that will each take a turn on the Guitar Town stage, from the Django Reinhardt-inspired, energetic gypsy jazz of the John Jorgenson Quintet to the rock and country-influenced instrumentals of the John Jorgenson Electric Band to the relatively new three-part harmonies of J2B2, the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band.

The world of guitar is so vast, he said, you could spend a whole lot of time listening and learning a style like blues and then find gypsy jazz or bluegrass and there’s a completely different type of guitar, a different way of playing it, different songs, different ensembles.

“For me, there’s not even enough hours in the day to learn all of the things I’d love to learn on the guitar,” he said. “There’s always new artists coming along that are bringing a whole different way of playing it, so that’s what keeps me interested.”

It’s electric

Robben Ford is a dominant figure in the world of blues and rhythm and blues guitar, having performed alongside the likes of Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and other music legends, but before the five Grammy awards and 35 albums that currently carry his name, there was just his father’s well-loved family guitar.

“As a kid, I used to hear him just play and sing songs to the family, and I always loved music, but my first instrument of choice was the saxophone, which I started playing when I was 10 years old,” he said.

“The guitar, there was a guitar at our house, so I would pick it up and fool around with it, I would do the same thing with the piano, pick it up and fool around with it — well, I didn’t pick it up,” he said with a laugh.

At a certain point, when Ford was about 13 years old, he bought a record of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which introduced him to the virtuosic electric sound of lead guitarist Michael Bloomfield.

“I don’t mean to say that BB King and the like weren’t masters or aren’t masters, but Mike Bloomfield, he had way more chops than anybody on the electric blues guitar,” he said. “He was the first guy to really blow minds with fast, loud blues playing. And it just riveted me. I just started devoting myself to the guitar from that point on.”

Ford dabbled a bit in acoustic guitar, learning a few Bob Dylan tunes, but as an adolescent boy in the 1960s, his musical path followed the marching drum of the airwaves and the electricity of rock ’n’ roll.

“Honestly, especially at that age, you’re hormonal, you’re so full of energy, and it wasn’t so long before that The Beatles and the Rolling Stones had come to America, so electric rock ’n’ roll was the music of the time,” he said. “Bloomfield was the first real player, he was the first guy really playing the shit out of the guitar that I ever heard, and it was electric and it was loud.

“So boom, my direction was sealed. Everything that’s happened since then I can trace right back to hearing that record for the first time.”

Each musician’s path to the guitar is a bit different, and it can seem like a daunting task to master a thing with such a seemingly endless ability to run the gamut of music styles. Ford said the important part is to fight past the initial intimidating mystique.

“It’s very easy to learn enough on the guitar to be able to play songs that you like,” he said. “A person could practice the guitar for a couple of months and be able to play every song The Beatles wrote. It’s not as difficult as it seems, and basically, it’s limitless in what you can do with it, but the fundamentals are so accessible, so attainable, that one should not be afraid to pick up the guitar.”


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