Guitars jam at Wall to Wall

By Missy Smith

The smell of wine lingered in the air as the mellow sounds of guitars placed the crowd in a trance.

The swaying of the bodies, the nodding of the heads and the tapping of the feet showed how intently the crowd was listening to each note being played by the performers.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts took on the ambiance of a coffeehouse for the launch of the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival.

Bridget Lee-Calfas, public information director for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, said the festival is a way to unite the community by looking at the guitar from a lot of different perspectives.

“We have about 40 different guitarists coming from all over the world, including from Iraq, France, Africa and across the U.S., including Hawaii and the Deep South,” Lee-Calfas said. “It’s interesting that almost every cultural tradition has some form of the guitar. This is really an opportunity to use the guitar to look at all the different perspectives of world music out there.”

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Kicking off the festivities was the appearance of a more modern use of the guitar, the video game Guitar Hero.

Local celebrities went head to head on a jumbo screen, competing to become the ultimate Guitar Hero.

Chancellor Richard Herman competed against Mike Ross, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts director. Chancellor Herman dressed the part of a rock star, turning up in sunglasses and head to toe in black. Wall to Wall’s Artistic Advisor David Spelman, WCIA’s Jennifer Roscoe and WAND’s Kate Pokarney also competed, though no winner was announced.

Spelman is the co-founder and artistic director for the New York Guitar Festival, which is the basis of the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival.

On the music front, Jim Connelly, junior in ACES, was looking forward to one performance in particular.

“I’m here to see Sonny Landreth,” Connelly said. “I saw him over the summer at the Eric Clapton Crossroads Festival and wanted to see him again. He is really good.”

Sonny Landreth was only one of several well-known guitarists on the bill for the events. Others included Buddy Guy, John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension and Los Lobos.

Jonny Untch, junior in FAA, grew up listening to the music that some of these artists produced.

“I grew up on blues music,” Untch said. “So I am going to hopefully see John McLaughlin and Buddy Guy. I think that McLaughlin is probably one of the better guitarists on the lineup.”

Untch, a guitarist himself, was also going to check out a few of the other attractions of the festival, such as the John Lennon Educational Bus and the Garage Band Workshop.

The John Lennon Bus returned to the festival for a second year, bringing with it a unique opportunity for the C-U community, Lee-Calfas said.

“It’s really cool. It is a mobile recording studio and video production studio,” Lee-Calfas said. “It is open to the public, so people can come and record their own tracks or make a video, just to see what it feels like.”

The next time the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival will take place is not until 2009, but there are ways to experience the festival until then.

In collaboration with iTunes, 15 artists donated tracks from their albums for free downloads. Podcasts are also available, Lee-Calfas said.

Whether people came to see the music, to play Guitar Hero on a big screen or to look at the rare instruments, the festival united the community through the common theme of music. That included Marcin Kulis, senior in LAS.

“It was something to do on Thursday night,” Kulis said, “but the love of music brought me here.”