Nine of Nevada County’s best guitarists will come together on the stage for the first time “under a different light” during Ivan Najera’s 14th annual Guitar Extravaganza at Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. today.
This year’s concert is a tribute to Nevada County’s long-time residents and guitarists and features a generation of musicians who helped build the local music scene.
Styles will range from ragtime, Brazilian and Americana to folk, Celtic, bluegrass, Spanish and world music.
All musicians will play original songs in a concert where they come together like never before.
Playing solos, duos, trios and jamming to their own rhythms and compositions on the stage rather than as a backdrop in a restaurant or bar will be: Jonathan Meredith, Steve Holland, Peter Wilson, Mikail Graham, Tom McDonald, Kelly Fleming, Mark Brocke, Tony Unger and Ivan Najera.
“It’s like a professional jam session on stage with good taste. These guys are all masters. People are in for a treat,” Najera said.
Accompanying the nine will be guest artists: Joe Dolister on electric and upright bass, Doug Matson on keyboards, Mark McCartney on drums and percussionists Dave Meyler and Rob Holland.
Najera first conceived Guitar Extravaganza in 1994 and over the years the concerts provided a venue to introduce young musicians who later became stars such as Joanna Newsom, Gyan Riley, Emerald Mist and Ian Ethan Case.
“There have been a countless number of musicians who have gone through the show. I counted one time 120,” said Ecuadorian born Najera.
Since the first opening at the Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center, every show has sold out to audiences in Nevada City, Grass Valley and Auburn.
Najera came from a large musical family of 11 brothers and sisters. He started singing and performing at age 9 and a year later was awarded the second grand prize in Quito’s National Star Search Competition.
“From then on, stage was my thing,” Najera said.
At 14, Najera studied guitar and piano at the National Conservatory in Quito. He appeared on radio and television throughout his adolescence and toured with a Colombian Latin jazz/salsa group in the early 1970s. He moved to Nevada County in 1976, attracted by Nevada City’s rich art community.
“There was a lot of live music,” Najera remembers.
For more than a decade, Najera regularly played at Friar Tuck’s on the weekends. Spanish, Flamenco, Brazilian, Tropical and Andean music along with jazz and contemporary styles inspire Najera’s music.
In February, Nevada City Chamber of Commerce awarded Najera with the 2012 “Best Live Music Award.”
Tickets for tonight’s extravaganza are $20 for members of the Center, $25 for non-members and can be purchased at the Center box office and BriarPatch Co-op.
For information, go to http://thecenterforthearts.org.