From the September 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY BLAIR JACKSON


The biennial Ellnora Guitar Festival, held at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus September 14–16, is shaping up as an important showcase for a wide variety of acoustic guitarists (and mandolinists, and other instrumentalists) from around the world.

Once known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival, Ellnora—now named for one of the founders of the Krannert Center, Ellnora Krannert—is in its seventh year and boasts a lineup of esteemed musicians performing at 14 ticketed concerts and at least seven free shows. In addition, the Guitar Gallery in the lobby will feature more than 80 guitar-shaped art pieces.

The 2017 artists hail from Spain, Germany, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and throughout the United States. Among them are Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy (current Chicago resident whose first nationally popular band, Uncle Tupelo, was based in downstate Illinois, and who has been performing extensively as a solo acoustic act this past year); folk legend Janis Ian (of “Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen” fame, of course); the jaw-droppingly powerful guitar duo Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge; Spanish flamenco composer and virtuoso guitarist Vicente Amigo, one of the flamenco world’s most renowned players; Australian classical guitarist Alberta Khoury, a protégé of Sharon Isbin, from Juilliard; gypsy jazz guitarist duo Lulo Reinhardt (great-nephew of Django!) and Daniel Stelter; roots and blues musicians Jontavious Willis and Ruthie Foster (read a Q&A with her in the August 2017 issue of AG); Chicago singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryley Walker; Hawaiian slack-key wizard Makana; an exceptional quartet led by jazz/Indian–influenced guitarist Rez Abbasi (performing a new score for a 1929 German silent film called A Throw of Dice, based on a story from the Indian epic tale The Mahabharata); the Spanish duo of Antonio Toledo, an acoustic guitar master, and Germán López, a five-string timple (pronounced “TIM-play”) virtuoso.

For the complete lineup and ticker information, visit ellnoraguitarfestival.com.


This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

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