May 1, 2009 saw 6,346 guitar players join together with festival founder Leszek Cichonski and Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse at the "Thanks Jimi Festival" to play the Jimi Hendrix hit "Hey Joe" and more than tripled the standing Guinness World Record for "Largest Guitar Ensemble" of 2,052.
The featured guest for the 2011 edition was to be Gary Moore. In tribute, his Still Got the Blues will be added to the songs that will be played together this year. Additional guests include Al de Meola, Ten Years After and Neil Zaza as well as many of the best known Polish musicians including the band Acid Drinkers.
This is a free event and open to all. Other guitar players from around the world join in online (though only those present in the Wroclaw center and registered count towards the record attempt).
Additionally, there are partnered events that take place throughout the city. Notable this year is, on April 29, Leszek Cichonski will be leading a full symphony performing arrangements of Jimi Hendrix material. Featured guests at this performance will be Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett's Acoustic Trio.
The free event takes place in the historic center of Wroclaw, Poland (formerly Breslau) - a city which has taken on the title of "Wroclaw Guitar City" - a title that seems merited. In fact, the Mayor, Rafal Dutkiewicz, was among those guitar players who established the current record.
Festival founder and director, Leszek Cichonski, is a well-known musician and music educator in Poland and the festival was an outgrowth of one of his educational programs and has taken place - and grown - annually since 2003. One of the objectives of the organizers is to establish May 1st as "World Guitar Day" and more coordinated simultaneous events are planed for next year and beyond (the date was moved this year due to the Beautification of Pope John Paul II taking place on May 1 this year).
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