The inaugural Melbourne Guitar Show was such a success in 2015 that its return in 2016 was pretty much a given from the first few hours alone. Thousands of guitar-lovers were able to get their hands on the latest and greatest gear, catch seminars and performances and walk away with a new instrument, amp or effect: everything on display was for sale, and there was a lot on display. And now the show is back, returning to Caulfield Racecourse on August 6 and 7, staged by the Australian Music Association and presented by Triple M and Australian Musician.
“We did some customer research at the show last year,” Australian Music Association CEO Rob Walker says, “and the main thing we want to combat this year is the noise factor. So the main thing we’ve done is created an acoustic floor on the first level which will also include some acoustic players in the afternoon. And we’ve worked to zone the floor a little bit so the noise can be contained, and we have a schedule for when things can happen on stands, just to make things a bit more comfortable. But we’ll be keeping all the elements that worked so well last year at the same time.”
Part of what made 2015’s event so special was the diversity of guitar approaches presented, both in terms of what was happening on the outdoor stage and in the gear found inside. That will be even more important in 2016. “This year we really want to highlight the guitar and how interpretive the instrument is,” Walker says. “We’re looking to do a couple of group sessions with multiple players of different styles playing a few concerts over the weekend. And we’re really looking to show how interpretive the instrument is depending on whose hands it’s in. We’ll have the live outdoor stage which really worked well last year, with all the cafe facilities as well which worked really well last year. And we’ll have a different type of entertainment program on the first level where the acoustic guitars are. And we’ll have seminars in the other room on the first level. We’ll have more exhibitors this year and more stands on the first level as well. It’s growing organically. We’ve got a ‘presents’ partnership with Triple M which will help get the word out even more. So if we can improve on last year’s even with the customer feedback we have, I think we can have a great event.
Artists to be featured include Kevin Borich, Geoff Achison, Jimi Hocking, Phil Manning, Nick Charles, Jamie Pye, Phil Ceberano, Brett Kingman, Lucas Michalaidis, Matt Fagan, Terramaze, Dean Wells, The Delusion, Dean Ray, Rohan Stephenson, Simon Hosford, James Ryan, Shannon Bourne, Sergio Ercole, Jon Delaney, Robbie Little, Peter Hodgson and Lachie Robertson. Special events include the MGS Superjam, featuring many of these guitarists, plus two acoustic showcases. One will focus on the eclecticism found in the acoustic scene. The otheris titled Acoustic Roots and Blues Guitar. “Most modern popular guitar styles have some debt to the blues and roots,” Walker says. “From all corners of the country experience some of the finest exponents of the genre and its offshoots. They’ll talk about their approach and there will be solo and ‘all-in’ songs and tunes.” Nick Charles hosts again, and players include Geoff Achison, Shannon Bourne, Jimi Hocking and Phil Manning.
“It’s a pretty broad event,” Walker says. “I’m hoping what happens is that we build the audience and we build the guitar community in general and keep the interest in the instrument really strong. For example there were record numbers of acoustic guitars imported to Australia or made in Australia in 2015. It seems like the guitar is more popular than ever. The electric guitar is on a bit more of a downward trend a the moment but it isn’t going away, and we want to keep the profile up as much as possible.”