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Alternative Guitar Festival

August 2 – 4, 2010 at Cornelia Street Café, New York City

Since coming to New York City from the Bay Area in 1999, guitarist-composer Joel Harrison has steadfastly avoided the ‘same ol’ same ol’ approach in his visionary projects as a leader. Indeed, ambitious works like Free Country (radical reinventions of country classics by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Woody Guthrie and the Carter Family) and Harrison on Harrison (interpretations of the songs by former Beatle George Harrison) as well as his classically influenced opus The Wheel (for double quartet and guitar) and his interpretations of music by Paul Motian (for two guitars and string quartet) have marked Harrison as something of a renegade with a tirelessly creative streak. He brought that same nonconformist attitude to bear in his role as curator of the “Alternative Guitar Festival” at the Cornelia Street Café.

“The whole point of it for me was that there’s a handful of guitarists, and a lot more than I could invite, who exemplify creativity, most of whom live in New York and who despite being lauded to some degree by the jazz world have no real traction outside that,” said Harrison after the series finale. “I wasn’t interested in well known people or people who fit into a mold or even a style of music-making. I was into asking people who have similar eclectic tendencies as me, who aren’t locked into what any idea of jazz is. And then rather than having them play with their quartets or trios, I wanted to cast some people together on the same stage who might not ordinarily be together to see if it brings out something different or something more adventuresome. I wanted it to be sort of spontaneous and raw and to some degree I think that’s what we got.”

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