Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) The Greatest Guitarist in the World (Fringe)

Starting on a Strong Note
by Jim Murchison

The Fringe festival kicked off last night in Ottawa. The weather cooperated wonderfully as people gathered around the launch stage trying to figure out which shows are going to be the runaway hits, which are the ones with potential and which ones aren't quite there yet. 

That being said…on to The Greatest Guitarist in the World.

The set up for this show is intimate, there are no risers. The chairs surround Vancouver guitarist Colin Godbout. From the moment I walked in Godbout was picking, tuning up warming his fingers for the performance. He was also talking to us asking us if we’d rather he put on some Hendrix talking about music. I was engaged in conversation with him right up until he started the show. 

The show is about the ongoing debate of who the greatest guitarist ever is or was. Godbout performs lesser known Canadian jazz guitarist Lenny Breau along with Django Reinhardt, Jimmy Page, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. 

He chooses not to try to imitate their personalities, rather to invoke their essence through his very skilled picking. At times he delves quite deeply into musical theory. He even alters his technique as Reinhardt when discussing the fire that burnt two fingers of his hand paralyzing and changes his fingering to reflect that.

It is definitely a performance that I enjoyed and I hope it garners larger audiences as the festival runs on. It is almost as much a music lesson and an open ended debate that includes call and response audience participation. For music lovers and historians it is well worth seeing but not as much a play as a musical performance.

runtime: approximately 60 minutes with no intermission
The Greatest Guitarist in The World runs until June 30

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