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The Melbourne Guitar Show

Following the rampant success of the 2015 Melbourne Guitar Show, the weekend long celebration of all things guitar is set to return in August this year. Buoyed by their previous success, Australian Music Association (AMA) CEO Rob Walker expects this edition to be even bigger than the inaugural event.

“I feel like with [major sponsor] Triple M coming on board, and with us being able to see what worked last year, I think if we do our job well then we can get a few more [people in than last year],” he says.
 
With 20 more stalls booked in already this year, and a whole new area for all things acoustic, his prediction for a bigger show doesn’t look far off the mark. “We’ve got a pretty full program of artists and entertainers, and all the same great products coming back again as well, plus a few more. It’s been a good reaction and a good result so far,” says Walker. “I think maintaining the standard and making sure that we provide an event that improves on last year.”
 
Varying the types of performances is one way that those planning the show are attempting to improve it, as well as trying to strike balance between male and female acts in different genres. As a shift from last year, there will be a real focus on group performances, with a whole heap of different jams and small groups playing at the show. With all these different groups playing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there might be difficulty in getting so many musicians together, but Rob assures me that isn’t the case.
 
“Everyone loves the idea, the concept. Last year’s event was such a happy event for everybody, there was so little negativity about any aspect of the show,” says Walker. “People did good business, the artists played well and generally there was a great vibe, so everyone’s been really looking forward to the repeat of it this year.”
 
Billed as Australia’s largest pop up guitar shop, the show will be a good opportunity to see a whole range of gear. As part of their 70th anniversary celebrations there will be a Maton Custom Shop seminar, which will detail the history of the company. This is one of the many seminars, clinics and workshops at the show, and one person who will be running a workshop is former Skyhooks and The Angels guitarist, Bob Spencer.
 
“I’ll be doing a couple of things,” says Spencer. “One is that I’ll be involved in a performance where there’ll be some songs played - either I’ll do those with a little band or I’ll sit in with someone else. I‘ll (also) be part of the Professor Guitar series, in which I’ll be talking about certain aspects of playing and performing, and I guess, in general, I’ll be poncing about doing some kind of guitar-ey things.”
 
In his Professor Guitar workshops he will be imparting some of the wisdom learnt from more than 40 years in the industry on those attending, but don’t expect a lesson on crotchets and treble clefs. “I want nothing to do with theory, I’m a bit over theory. My workshop will probably be a performance based workshop, which is really where my interest lies,” says Spencer. “When I say performance I don’t mean how to do the splits on stage, I mean tailoring your playing, your equipment, your sound, your approach for the gig and the band.”
 
There will, however, be many other experts focusing on other aspects of guitar playing, meaning that the show is set to have something that appeals to just about every patron. It’s a structure that’s hopefully setting up the festival for a long and successful history.
 
“Victoria and Australia have some fantastic enduring festivals and shows like this, and we’d like to keep the guitar on the agenda from here on in,” says Walker. “We’d like to grow with more makers and more products and more artists. Maybe even some overseas artists and more interstate artists, but at the moment we’re doing it with the means we have and we’re happy with the results. It’s really about not only maintaining the standard, but trying to just lift it each year as we go.”

The Melbourne Guitar Show will be taking place at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 7. For more information and visit www.australianmusician.com.au/melbourne-guitar-show.