Radisson Blu Hotel, Guildford. March 2016
Four star ****
Guildford recently played host to guitar royalty with five-time Grammy nominee Robben Ford at his only UK guitar clinic on a 20 date European tour. Organised by Andertons Music, with attendees from as far afield as Manchester, this was a masterclass from one of the best guitarists around and there was an air of expectation and reverence in the room.
One for the purists and fans alike, Robben began by asking how many guitarists were in the audience. Unsurprisingly about 80% of the 230-strong audience put their hands up. Robben is known as the “guitarist’s guitarist”. He began with an entertaining potted history of his career, spanning six decades and playing with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Miles Davis.
He then took questions from the audience and went on to detail his guitar technique, demonstrating his incredible self-taught technical knowledge and ability. He summed up “Practice, don’t try and be too technical, enjoy yourself, express yourself. Go for it and say something.”
Backed by bass and drums he played three numbers, the first an improvisation to demonstrate some of the techniques he had been describing, the second a driving blues number called Cannonball Shuffle and finally Fool’s Paradise, which showcased his soloing and vocal talents.
Interviewed by the Surrey Advertiser from his home in California in advance of the clinic, Robben said “The particular element I hope to pass along is one of basically an attitude towards what it is to make music – for me music is joy. I try to get people to understand that if they think they are not able to play, not able to do what they want to do, that they’re just a hair’s breadth away from making it. It’s just a shift of consciousness.”