Copper Mountain’s Guitar Town jams
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Musician John Jorgenson said Guitar Town makes him feel like “one of those gymnasts in the all-around.”
That’s because he has three different bands, all with very different sounds, and Copper’s annual Guitar Town weekend is a time when they all come out to play.
“This is one of the few places where I can perform with all three of my bands,” he said of the event.
So let the games begin.
The 12th annual Guitar Town started Friday night and runs through Sunday at Copper Mountain. This year’s festival includes free performances and guitar and songwriting workshops, as well as family activities throughout the weekend. Today is acoustic day, with performances by Jorgenson, Martin Taylor, Frank Vignola, Laurence Juber and more, and Sunday is electric day, featuring Jorgenson again, as well as Mark Selby, Lee Ritenour, to name a few.
“Basically, people who come to Guitar Town like guitar playing,” Jorgenson said. “Maybe I am a little more broad than the average, but I still think the average guitar player loves great playing — whether it’s metal or flamenco, or whatever, they can appreciate it. And plus, it’s like the weather, if you don’t like it, just wait 15 or 20 minutes and something different will happen.”
Festival founder Bob Burwell had an original vision for Guitar Town: to add pairings and special guests — on-stage dynamics that may not happen anywhere else in the world.
“He loves that surprise element,” Jorgenson said of Burwell, “and turning the audience on to new players, people they have never seen before. Then they are probably going to become fans.”
A great example of the new-found talent at Guitar Town, according to Jorgenson, is Joe Robinson, a 25-year old, self-taught musician from Australia. Robinson won the “Australia’s Got Talent” television show at the age of 17 and has since moved to the United States and continued to expand his fan base.
“He’s pretty well-known in Australia,” Jorgenson said, “but this gave him a chance to develop an audience in America. He has done the festival a number of times now and has really built a good following.”
Robinson will be playing an acoustic set at Guitar Town on Saturday and will also play on Sunday with the talented trifecta called Guitar Army, composed of Robinson and fellow guitarists, singers and songwriters Robben Ford and Lee Roy Parnell.
“It’s a group of three different guitar players with pretty different backgrounds,” Ford said. “Basically, we each play our own music and the others support.”
His background is more with jazz blues, and Parnell’s music is rooted more in country, rhythm and blues.
Parnell describes Guitar Army as a “well-oiled machine.”
“I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a musical entity that has been more enjoyable, less stress — it’s just been a gift,” he said.
Sunday afternoon will be Guitar Army’s debut at Guitar Town, although Ford, Parnell and Robinson have all played at the event in the past.
Robinson said audiences can expect a “monstrous wall of sound” from the group.
“I think the open-air vibe will be really a great place for us to just let go and really dig in,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy in the show, and I think it’s going to be a great way to close out the day.”