Who is the Best Guitarist Alive?
Think you know the answer to the question in the title?
Don’t answer it. Yet.
Over the next few weeks, three of the world's greatest living guitarists are coming to San Diego, two of them are playing this Friday night, January 21.
The first of these fret-burning heavyweights is my personal favorite, Steve Morse, who is playing at the Sycuan Showcase Theater, twice in the same night. First Steve will play with his groundbreaking rock-fusion "Dixie Dregs" and then he’ll come back to close the show under his own shingle as "The Steve Morse Band."
Who Steve Morse is as a musician is summed up in his aspirations. Steve once said, "I'd like to have the versatility of Phil Collins, the integrity of Pat Metheny, Alan Holdsworth or John McLaughlin, the chops of Al DiMeola, Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen, and the musical finesse of Andrés Segovia."
If you love guitar based rock music, are a jazz fan, or if you think recognize any of the names in the above paragraph, do yourself a favor and make the trip to Sycuan. (By the way, the theatre there is intimate and awesome at the same time.)
While Steve Morse is at Sycuan, Eric Johnson is at 4th and B. Johnson is from Texas … the state known for sprouting more blues guitarists than perhaps any other state in the US. (Come on … How many blues guitarists do you know from Rhode Island?)
Unlike straight ahead hard-core blues cats, Eric cut his teeth on traditional rockers and guitarists too. You’ll hear that Texas Blues edge enveloped in the Beatles, and Chet Atkins and jazz. It's rare for an instrumentalist to have songs on Rock Radio. But, Eric Johnson had three instrumentals chart in the top ten on various formats at the same time. No one has ever done that. (He also won the Grammy for "Cliffs of Dover".) Johnny Winter and former Doobie Brothers guitarists Jeff Baxter are among Eric's fans. Jimi Hendrix would have loved him too.
Last but not least, Joe Satriani has rescheduled a cancelled date to April 10th. Joe's bout with pneumonia behind him, he’ll be recharged and appearing at 4th & B in Downtown San Diego. Satriani checks in at the number 8 position in Guitar Player Magazine's Top 50 Greatest Guitarists Poll. His second album, "Surfing with the Alien" was the first all instrumental album to crack the album Top 40.
How did an Italian kid from Long Island become one of the best guitarists of all time? He says "Teaching." (Willie Nelson did the same thing.)
One way to make a living as a guitarist is to become an instructor. Early on, when Joe's students wanted to know how to play in a certain style, he'd do the homework. His philosophy is key ...y our students may never pickup what you learn but you go to extremes to make sure you know what you are teaching is right and you’ll learn something.
One of Joe's early students was a neighborhood kid named Steve Vai, and since then Satriani has gone on to teach other notable guitarists - namely Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Larry LaLonde (Primus), David Bryson (Counting Crows), and jazz/fusion master Charlie Hunter.
Never underestimate the value of the teacher.
Ahh... so much music, so little time.
Keith Miller is also known as Madison, the 102.1 KPRI Morning Show Host.