Six connoisseurs of guitar music step onto Britt's Performance Garden stage as the music and arts festival concludes its 2017 Guitar Weekend.
The workshop's guitarists will perform a mix of Gypsy jazz, percussive finger-style folk and world music, electric rock, Hawaiian slack key music, Delta blues, flamenco and classical in a presentation of solos, duets and trios. Look for the full ensemble to close the show.
"It will be a mix of styles unlikely to be heard again," says Vicki Genfan, an East Coast musician who is new this year to Britt's Guitar Weekend. "It's unlikely that the six of us will play together again, but I like being thrown in with new players and new styles and figuring out what we can do together. The best ensembles I've played with are people who are really great listeners. Hopefully, we'll listen to each other and figure out what to do."
Others in the guitar concert are jazz guitarist Ed Dunsavage; Page Hamilton of electric rock band Helmet; Portland blues guitarist Terry Robb; slack-key guitarist Mark Nelson; and classical and flamenco guitarist Grant Ruiz.
The show is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 S. First St., Jacksonville. Tickets are $14 and can be purchased at brittfest.org, by calling 800-882-7488, or at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford. Students and kids 12 and younger get in free. Gates open at 6:30.
Genfan has spent a lifetime playing guitar. Her particular style — she calls it "slap-tap" — evolved over 10 or 15 years.
"It started when I became inspired by Joni Mitchell's open tunings," she says. "I began to explore what I could do with those beautiful open chords and tunings. It changed my approach to songwriting."
Genfan draws not from just folk, but jazz, pop, soul and world music to write her compositions, sings expressively and puts her unmistakable imprint on familiar tunes.
"Gradually, through my own meanderings and interest in percussion and world music, I began experimenting with percussive techniques and harmonics. The guitar always presents new possibilities. I started out by just messing around. By the time I was 35 or 40, it crystallized into a style."
Open tunings vary from standard tuning, which is defined as string pitches in E, A, D, G, B, and E.
"Open tuning is also called alternative tuning," Geffan says. "Alternate tuning is commonly used in folk and world music. The relationship between strings becomes different. It creates different sounds, coloration and natures because you have a different starting point."
Dunsavage majored in jazz performance and composition at Rutgers University in New Jersey. An adjunct guitar instructor at Southern Oregon University, he teaches classical and jazz styles as well as jazz theory and improvisation. His Gypsy jazz stylings follow the music of Django Reinhart.
Composer, guitarist and producer Hamilton graduated from the University of Oregon before moving to New York City to complete a master's in jazz guitar at the Manhattan School of Music. He played and recorded with various projects before forming Helmet in 1989, with Henry Bogdan, Peter Mengede and John Stanier. The group signed to Amphetamine Reptile Records and released their first full-length album, "Strap It On," in 1991.
In 2004, Hamilton reformed Helmet with a new lineup and released "Size Matters" that same year, and in 2006, the band released "Monochrome" on Warcon Records. It's newest is "Seeing Eye Dog," on Work Song in 2010.
Back in the '90s, Portland guitarist Terry Robb earned a living playing tunes made popular by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
He's matured into one of the top acoustic blues guitarists in the Northwest. His sound mixes elements of Mississippi Delta traditions, ragtime, country, swing and free jazz. He defined the Cascade Blues Association's Muddy Award for Best Acoustic Guitarist by winning the honor each year from 1992 to 2011. He's a member of the Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.
Hawaiian slack key player Mark Nelson is another fan of open tunings and finger-style guitar. The style began in the 1840s, he says. It's called Hawaiian soul music.
Nelson has introduced many guitarists to this style. He has popular books and CDs about learning slack key, along with an extensive series of online slack-key lessons, and he's taught at music camps across the U.S.
Ruiz studied flamenco in Spain. An adjunct guitar instructor at SOU, he's performed with several flamenco groups, including Duo Flamenco with percussionist Terry Longshore and Flamenco Pacifico with guitarist Berto Boyd. He also is a member of the Jefferson Classical Guitar Society.
Britt Music and Arts Festival's annual Guitar Workshop is open to ages 14 and older. Beginning to advanced experience is necessary. See brittfest.org/gw.
Two additional concerts will be held during Guitar Weekend.
Look for a concert by Genfan, sponsored by Siskiyou Music Project, at 7 p.m. Friday, June 23, at Hilltop Music, 205 N. Phoenix Road, in The Shoppes @ Exit 24, Phoenix. Tickets are $25, $10 for students, and can be reserved at siskiyoumusicproject.com.
Hamilton and his band Helmet will perform at 8:30 Saturday, June 24, during The Mélomane Music Festival at Pear Blossom Park, 312 E. Fourth St., Medford. The Mélomane Foundation is a nonprofit committed to raising funds for Southern Oregon K-12 music programs and other educational opportunities.
Doves and Vultures, Parole Denied, Seth Hansson, Midnight Express Players, Army of a Million and The Hollowbodys will precede Helmet's performance. The music festival starts at noon. Tickets are $20 in advance, $21.69 including service fee, and can be purchased at melomanemusicfestival2017.brownpapertickets.com.