Making its way back to the Caulfield Racecourse for its fifth consecutive year, the Melbourne Guitar Show is eyeing August 2019 off like a dog eyes off its dinner. Poised to be its biggest and best jaunt yet, this year's show – kicking off across the weekend of August 3rd and 4th – promises a (quite literally) jam-packed lineup of performers and exhibitors, with an emphasis on getting punters hands-on with the enormous array of axes on show.
In the lead-up to this year's Melbourne Guitar Show, Australian Guitar is going full steam ahead on the hype train. Every Tuesday and Friday, we'll be going head-to-head with one of the top-notch fretboard warriors making their way to the show, in the pursuit of getting to know a little more about who'll be melting out minds when they take to the stage. In this edition: Nick Charles.
With his kaleidoscopic sliding technique and fierce, inimitable take on blues and roots, Charles has established himself as a bonafide icon in Australian guitar music. There's a reason even the top dogs at Maton swear by Charles' tight and twangy magic, and it takes just one playthrough of his 2015 LP, The River Flows, to figure out what that is. Hell, even his 1992 debut, The Road More Travelled (a collaborative effort with Alex Burns) holds up shockingly well today!
What are you most looking forward to about the 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show?
It’s a wonderful opportunity to see and hear, under one roof, what so many great guitarists are doing. A total guitar-mad environment is hard to beat!
Why do you think events like the Melbourne Guitar Show are so important for guitar lovers?
In one environment, you can witness a huge variety of styles, acoustically and electrically, as well as see a range of new products and builders. You also meet like-minded guitar enthusiasts in droves.
What can punters expect from your performance at the Melbourne Guitar Show? Do you have any exciting surprises or curveballs up your sleeve?
No curveballs from me! I’ll be playing some of my new guitar music and a sampling of my catalogue – I’m always working on improving and getting as much music and feel out of the instrument. It’s a cliché, but it’s a journey!
What are you most excited about in the guitar world right now?
The acoustic guitar is in more hands than ever, and there are many fine new arrivals on the scene. It keeps you working and improving.
What innovations would you like to see companies take with the guitar in the near (and distant) future?
In my mind, it’s all about constantly improving the amplified sound of the acoustic onstage. One day I’m hoping you’ll plug an acoustic guitar in and turn it up, and it will sound just like your favourite instrument unplugged. Acoustically speaking – for a fingerstylist like me – the balance from bass to treble, and that even blend, is elusive and the sonic holy grail.
What guitar(s) are you playing on at the moment? Do you have any particular go-tos or favourites?
My main guitar is the latest Maton they’ve made for me. It's a beautiful looking and sounding OM sunburst, with mahogany back and sides, sitka top and ebony fretboard.
Let’s go way back: what was the first guitar you bought, and what was it about that guitar that reeled you in?
My first guitar was a Maton classical that I confiscated from my sister. I learned so much on it. The first guitar I bought was a Les Paul (no name brand) copy which didn’t live up to much, and saw me go into debt to buy the real thing shortly after.
What’s does the rest of your rig look like?
An LR Baggs Venue preamp into a Boss digital reverb and Boss tuner. From there, we go into my AER acoustic amp and then into the PA. When I can, I like to have a Rode NT5 condenser mic blended through the front-of-house.
If you could design the ultimate guitar, where nothing is impossible with it, what would you put on it?
I can’t think past the sunburst I’m currently playing – but I wouldn’t mind an instrument that connected me with Doc Watson, Django and Blind Blake, for starters.
Who are your favourite up-and-coming guitarists? Anyone we should be keeping an eye on?
Julian Lage is amazing, and young! There are quite a few young gun bluegrass pickers in the US who continue to surprise me.
Melbourne Guitar Show 2019
Stars (ft. Mal Eastick, Nick Charles and Roger McLachlan)
James Norbert Ivanyi
Cartridge Family (ft. Sarah Carroll and Suzanna Espie)
Simon Hosford’s Fair Warning
Saturday August 3rd + Sunday 4th
Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
Tickets on sale via australianmusician.com.au