February 25, 2011

GUITAR GREATNESS DESCENDED upon Raleigh, North Carolina, on the weekend of November 20 and 21, when John McLaughlin, Jimmy Herring, Wayne Krantz, and Alex Machacek performed at the historic Lincoln Theater as part of the New Universe Music Festival presented by Abstract Logix.

Saturday night’s lineup included the Alex Machacek Trio with bassist Neal Fountain and drummer Jeff Sipe, drummer Ranjit Barot’s band joined by Krantz on one tune, Human Element (great band but no guitars), and the Jimmy Herring Band, featuring Fountain, Sipe, and keyboardist Matt Slocum. On Sunday it was Wayne Krantz’s trio with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Cliff Almond, the Lenny White Group featuring Herring and Tom Guarna in a dual-guitar lineup, and John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, with keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband, drummer Mark Mondesir, and bassist Étienne MBappe. Tabla virtuoso and longtime McLaughlin collaborator Zakir Hussain joined the band for the finale.

The climax of the festival was a tribute to McLaughlin organized by Husband. “Gary did me proud by getting all the musicians together to play some of my old tunes,” says McLaughlin. “I was really moved, and the audience was outstanding. It was also a thrill just to see all the great musicians in one spot—especially the guitarists— and I think everyone had a wonderful time. Souvik Dutta and the folks at Abstract Logix did a fantastic job of organizing the festival.”

McLaughlin played through a pedalboard patched directly into the P.A., eschewing the computer-based system he’d been using in recent years. “I haven’t used a laptop since the last Shakti tour,” he explains. “And instead of the Mesa/Boogie V-Twin preamp, I’ve been using a Seymour Duncan SFX-03 Twin Tube Classic. I still like the Mesa, but I find the Twin Tube is better in the upper register.” McLaughlin’s other pedals include an MXR Stereo Chorus and Carbon Copy delay, a Korg Pitchblack tuner, and a Line 6 Relay G30 Digital Wireless Guitar System, all powered by a Dunlop DC-Brick and housed in a Boss BCP-60 Pedal Board.

The performances were videotaped for a DVD to be released later this year.

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