A red-letter day on the Cowichan entertainment calendar — International Guitar Night — celebrates its 20th Anniversary Tour with a stop in Duncan on Thursday, Jan. 23, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The Cowichan Performing Arts Centre will be alive with fantastic sounds as England’s Mike Dawes is joined by Turkey’s fretless guitarist Cenk Erdogan, Hawaiian slack key master Jim (Kimo) West and Finnish jazz guitarist Oli Soikkeli.
Each year, International Guitar Night’s founder Brian Gore invites a new cast of guitar luminaries from around the world for special concert tours of North America highlighting the diversity of the acoustic guitar.
“For 20 years we have slowly built a loyal and ever growing audience for International Guitar Night. Each tour offers an enthralling view of the burgeoning acoustic guitar renaissance,” Gore said, when promoting the event. “Every year is the best year yet, and this year is even better. The melange of mind-bending British finger style, Turkish fretless improvisation, virtuosic gypsy jazz and laid back Hawaiian slack key is sure to be a show stopper.”
Englishman Dawes is known for composing, arranging and performing multiple parts simultaneously on one instrument using unique extended and micro-techniques. He is hailed as one of the world’s finest and most creative modern fingerstyle guitar performers.
Dawes is also lead guitar player for Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues featuring heavily on multiple DVD and PBS releases, notably Spirits…Live which debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard chart. The performer has amassed around 80 million music video views online. He was voted the Best Acoustic Guitarist in the World by MusicRadar and Total Guitar Magazine in a December 2017 readers’ poll.
Erdogan was born in Istanbul in 1979. In 1997, he won a four-year scholarship to Istanbul Bilgi University for Music Composition, where he graduated with first class honors. In the years since, he has performed around the globe playing Turkish fretless guitar. He has also been a leading fretless guitar educator, setting up classes, workshops, and a website dedicated to the subject.
In 2008, Erdogan recorded his first album ILE. He later moved into film composition, writing music for the Turkish romance Issiz Adam. The score won Erdogan a Yecilcam Award for Music. In 2016, he arranged and conducted orchestral music for Sezen Aksu, the queen of Turkish pop. Sezenli Yillar has performed six concerts with a 35-piece orchestra and visuals and dance shows. The next year, the guitarist released his latest album, Lahza, with Swedish drummer Mehmet Ikiz. Lahza is a guitar and drum duo project consisting of original music and live improvisations. Erdogan performs regularly with his solo, duo, and trio projects and composes in a wide range of musical styles.
Olli Soikkeli was born in Nurmes, Finland in 1991. He started playing guitar at the age of 12. After a few years of playing, Soikkeli was introduced to the music of the great Django Reinhardt and gypsy jazz has been his main focus ever since. Soon Soikkeli was playing in jazz clubs and festivals all around Finland.
After touring throughout Europe, with musicians such as Paulus Schäfer and Arnoud Van Den Berg, he decided to move to New York City in 2014. The performer has played legendary venues such as Birdland Jazz Club, Blue Note and the Lincoln Center. Despite his young age he’s already played with stars such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Stochelo Rosenberg, Tommy Emmanuel, Andreas Öberg, Cyrille Aimee, Anat Cohen, Antti Sarpila and Marian Petrescu.
Having never even seen Waikiki, Jim (Kimo) West came right to Hana, Maui in 1985 and spent much of his time there for many years.
Best known as long-time guitarist for successful musical comedy artist, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Kimo is regarded as one of the world’s foremost “ki ho’alu” or Hawaiian slack key guitar artists and his music has garnered many millions of streams on Spotify and Pandora. This warm and engaging fingerpicking guitar style has its roots in 1840s Hawaii, when Mexican vaqueros first brought guitars to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you saw the Oscar-winning film The Descendants you have experienced this great acoustic guitar tradition.
Kimo is a 2008 winner of the Hawaii Music Awards and three-time Na Hoku Hanohano (the Hawaiian ‘Grammy’) nominee. He is also a two-time winner of the LA Treasures Award for his efforts in keeping this important acoustic guitar tradition alive. For his work with “Weird Al”, he has earned four Grammys and a Billboard No. 1 CD debut for 2015’s Mandatory Fun.
Tickets are $38 for adults, and $30 for students. Get them in person at the Cowichan Ticket Centre, 2687 James St. or by phone 250-748-2722 or online at cowichanpac.ca.