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Guitars in Bars rocks back into town


Hindmarsh and Bowden are set to buzz with musicians this Sunday when Hidden Hindmarsh takes over the inner-western suburbs.

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The event is the opening salvo of Guitars in Bars, created in 2016 as part of the biennial Adelaide Guitar Festival.

The year is the second time the month-long Guitars in Bars will be held outside the flagship festival.

Adelaide Guitar Festival artistic director Slava Grigoryan says Hidden Hindmarsh on Sunday is a snapshot of what will follow, with Guitars in Bars featuring musicians spanning genres from surf-rock to old-school blues and classical.

“People can literally go and stick their heads into gigs all through the day,” he says. “They’re all free and the whole family is welcome.”

A multi ARIA-winning classical guitarist, Slava will take to the stage with his musical partner and wife, Australian String Quartet cellist Sharon Grigoryan, for their own Hidden Hindmarsh gig.

The pair will hit The Gov playing tracks from their latest album.

“We recorded, I guess, a bit of a strange album. There’s a lot of new music on it, a lot of music composed by friends of ours who wrote for the two of us,” Slava says.

“It’s the combination of a few existing classical pieces that I arranged for the two of us and new music composed by friends.”

Slava says he finds the chance to perform with Sharon a rare but treasured occasion.

“She’s the cellist in the Australian String Quartet and she’s incredibly hard to pin down,” he says.

“They’re a very, very busy ensemble but this weekend is the start of their midyear break.

“It’s something we’d love to do more of, and we know we will at some stage when life changes a little bit, but at the moment it’s just a very special thing that we get to do really.”

Kicking off on Sunday afternoon, Hidden Hindmarsh will feature shows in more than 11 venues, including barbers and florists, across Hindmarsh and Bowden.

And while the opening weekend event will take place in Adelaide’s inner suburbs, Guitars in Bars extends well beyond the city limits with 1293 artists performing across 124 venues from Ceduna to Mount Gambier.

Slava says Guitars in Bars is an opportunity for musicians with a broad range of experience to perform in a variety of venues, and, in previous years, artists who have been particularly brilliant have been selected to appear in the main festival the following year.

To ensure guitar music is heard across the state, a selection of guitarists also travel to hospitals, care facilities, community centres and regional areas to perform for those who can’t otherwise attend.

“We take the guitar festival to all sorts of care facilities,” Slava says.

“So, whether it’s an aged home or a hospital or dialysis ward, anything at all where people can’t come to us, we take a cross-section of artists to give them a real taste of what the guitar festival is about.

“We want to continue to build momentum for the next full program in 2020 and at the same time make music more accessible.”

This year’s Guitars in Bars will also be bolstered by a number of ticketed events including a performance by US bluegrass band Punch Brothers, Australian singer-songwriter Jeff Lang, and classical guitarist Karin Schaupp.

Head of classical guitar at the Queensland Conservatorium, Schaupp says she loves travelling to Adelaide for the Guitar Festival.

“It’s just really inspiring to be surrounded by all things guitar from across styles for a few days,” she says.

The Queensland-based performer will join the 2018 Adelaide international classical guitar competition winner Miles Johnston for a double bill.

Schaupp will play a mixed program, the first half of which will be on a replica 19th-century guitar.

“I’m playing a number of early romantic works and then the second half of the program are pieces that are based around some kind of narrative,” she says.

“Narrative in music is one of my strong interests, that’s why I’m doing the second half that way. That’s not to say there isn’t a narrative in the [first] pieces, but it’s not as overt in the other pieces.”

Schaupp, an internationally renowned guitarist, is also a keen actor and particularly interested in combining the two art forms.

But, while she uses spoken word to give her music additional meaning, Schaupp says it’s not easy to weave the two skills together.

“When you speak and play… the speaking is not like singing. So, it’s not like a rhythm in time with the music,” she says.

“It’s like rubbing your tummy and the top of your head at the same time.

“The music, of course, is related… to the text but the text is not spoken in time with the music.”

Despite the challenges of performing a cross-genre project, Schaupp says she draws great pleasure from sharing her understanding of a piece of music’s meaning.

“I just feel that even if you’re playing a piece and… the composer hasn’t given you any information about what the music meant for the composer, I think you have to make it mean something for you in order for it to mean something to the audience.

“And that’s ultimately what we want out of a performance. We want to be moved. We want to be taken on a journey – whether that’s literal or abstract.”

For the full program, including the times and locations for this Sunday’s Hidden Hindmarsh gigs, go here.

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