In 1995, guitarists Brian Gore, Alex de Grassi and Peppino D'Agostino created International Guitar Night in a converted laundromat in Berkeley, Calif. They would hold occasional performances together and with other guitarists who passed through the area.
Today, International Guitar Night tours the United States, Canada and England, and has one permanent musician, Gore. Every year, he creates a different quartet of famous and unknown players, booking three guitarists from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and musical genres to join him on tour. Through the annual event, which stops in Owings Mills tonight, Gore aims to rouse more appreciation for guitar playing and give audiences a fresh perspective on the centuries-old art.
"For the most part, I don't think people who play guitar are as famous as they should be, given the quality of the music they produce," Gore said.
Over the years, International Guitar Night has featured low- and high-profile guitarists from all over the world. Last year's ensemble included Frenchman Sylvain Luc, African Alpha YaYa Diallo and Grammy winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt of India.
The current roster includes Canadian flamenco guitarist Miguel de la Bastide, Madagascan D'Gary and Englishman Clive Carroll. Bastide, who grew up in Trinidad, has played flamenco music for more than 25 years and toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. D'Gary, a descendant of the nomadic Bara tribe, found fame for his uncanny ability to imitate the sounds of tribal instruments with his guitar using his secret open tuning technique. Carroll, who was named to the "Top 10 Acoustic Guitarists of All Time" list by Total Guitar Magazine in 2004, plays music that ranges from Celtic to Elizabethan to Texan blues. Gore's songs incorporate jazz, folk and classical.
The International Guitar Night program includes solos, a few duos, a trio and two quartets. The concert's repertoire consists solely of original music. Each performer plays his own music, and each collaborative group plays its own jointly written compositions, which aim to create rich blends of different cultural styles.
"Solo guitar's style is strongly influenced by cultures and subcultures," Gore said. "Seeing these people from different cultures come together is a very interesting thing."
"You seldom get the chance to hear the king of Madagascan guitar playing alongside a leading authority in the flamenco world and Brian Gore's West Coast innovations," Carroll said.
Three albums for International Guitar Night have been released, and Gore hopes the tour will eventually expand to Asia and Africa.
"Audiences literally get a smorgasbord of guitar masters. They get a feast," de la Bastide said.
International Guitar Night is 7:30 tonight at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills. Tickets are $20. Call 410-356-7469 or go to ticketmaster.com.