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The Guitar Summit assembles three local musicians for an evening of virtuosic guitar-playing
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Ask any musician: one of the frustrating things about plying your craft in Fort Wayne is that there’s not much of an opportunity for audiences to just listen to you. Rock bands have it a bit easier, especially cover bands, where audiences can sing along to your note-for-note version of the latest Puddle of Mudd single while drinking beer. But if you play jazz, or folk, or classical, many times your job is to provide background music or create ambiance for diners. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for a musician or music fan who appreciates something a little more sophisticated than a traditional arrangement of a standard you’ve heard a million times before, it’s not very satisfying.
The Guitar Summit aims to give Fort Wayne residents hungry for the opportunity to hear virtuosic guitar playing something to sink their teeth into. The unique event allows three of the area’s best guitarists to showcase their musical skills in an informal concert-like setting. “People who seriously like folk, jazz, classical or whatever are really under-served in Fort Wayne,” says Kevin Hiatt, the organizer of the Guitar Summit and one of the performers. “I wanted to give people who are interested in diverse, left-of-center, non-commercial music a chance to listen to some great guitarists really play.”
Joining Hiatt will be local classical guitarist Dan Quinn and jazz virtuoso George Ogg. The musicianship you’ll see on display is a far cry from what you’ll see in a bar or nightclub. Hiatt has a reputation around the city as an amazing fingerstyle guitarist, using his hands to create bass, melody and even percussion on six, seven, and twelve-string acoustic guitars. He’ll be performing his own compositions, which he describes as a hybrid of folk, jazz, and rock, informed by classical forms and procedures. “It’s ‘Musician-head’ music,” he jokes.
In addition to Hiatt’s “musician-head” music, concert-goers will have a chance to check out one of the best classical guitarists around. Dan Quinn, who holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Indiana University School of Music, is a teacher at Huntington College and has performed at recitals and contemporary classical music events in the US, Canada, and Japan. He hopes the Guitar Summit will put him in touch with other area people interested in classical guitar. “Hopefully, I’ll finally meet some local people who are interested in this kind of music and get something happening here,” he says. Among the pieces Quinn will be performing are Fernando Sor’s Grand Solo, and a brand new work by Japanese classical guitarist Kazu Munakata.
Holding up the jazz end of the Guitar Summit is George Ogg, Ogg gigs frequently, performing at Joseph Decuis, Park Place, and other area restaurants as a solo performer or as part of a combo. He even does occasional guitar duty with rockabilly band the Bel Airs. For the Guitar Summit, Ogg says he’s going to stick to the jazz classics he’s largely known for, but the venue will allow him to try a few different things. “I’m going to be able to dig into it a little more and be a little more expressive with it,” he says.
Hiatt hopes to turn the Guitar Summit into a regular series, and would like to see it become another way for Fort Wayne artists and art lovers to get to know each other, and maybe spark a few collaborations. “I’m convinced there are people in Fort Wayne who would be into that,” Hiatt says. “The sad thing is, there’s no on-going catalyst for those people to get to know each other. But I think there’s potential here.”
Meanwhile, with the Guitar Summit, music lovers who are looking for an alternative listening experience to the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs will have the chance to see guitar musicianship at its finest.