May 1st World Guitar Day/Thanks Jimi Festival in Wroclaw, Poland

April 21, 2008

In 2003, 588 guitarists gathered together in Wroclaw's historic Old Town Square to play Jimi Hendrix songs together. It has grown steadily—the following year more than 900 performed, and in 2007 there were 1,876 confirmed guitar players (including Guitar Player Magazine's own Barry Cleveland). There are thousands of additional observers in the audience. Even greater numbers are expected in 2008. As was true in 2007, there are simultaneous smaller international satellite events planned as well as real-time on-line participation. As the event has grown it has taken on the ambition of making May 1st "World Guitar Day". The festival has benefited from unique support from the city of Wroclaw, Poland that has taken on the title of "Wroclaw Guitar City"—the city sponsors the event, which takes over the entire city center and sees a large influx of young people in particular.

The Thanks Jimi Festival/World Guitar Day is organized by master guitarist and Hendrix interpreter Leszek Cichonski, who will lead the crowd in playing "Hey Joe," "Little Wing," and other Hendrix-associated songs, as well as introducing performances by some of Poland's finest guitarists and singers, and additional international guests.

As in the past years, the festival will be preceded by a two-month educational workshop via mass media and the Internet. "My idea was to teach people the songs so that we would be able to play them together," says Cichonski. "And step by step we mastered the songs."

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