THE LATEST PLAYER to go from virtual unknown in the Spotlight column (9/92) to the cover of GP is Mr. Guthrie Govan. His astounding guitar work can be heard on the concert DVD, Boing! We’ll Do It Live!, with his trio the Aristocrats, featuring bassist Bryan Beller and “the preposterously capable Marco Minnemann on drums.” Govan is also now a member of Steven Wilson’s band.
“A lot has changed over the last couple of decades,” says Govan. “Today, the Internet makes it easy for aspiring guitarists not only to showcase their music and connect with like-minded players all over the globe, but also to discover just how many crazy things you can do with a humble electric guitar.
“This environment simply didn’t exist back in the day. For those 6-string geeks who were interested in the ‘cutting edge’ stuff 20 or so years ago, Mike Varney’s Spotlight column was the closest thing we had. I think players like myself were very much in awe of this talent-spotting figure, with his apparently inexhaustible supply of hitherto-unknown monster guitarists. Whenever Mike wanted to tell us about some scary new player, we’d generally pay attention! For instance, I vividly remember reading a Spotlight feature on a mysterious character by the name of Ron Thal, and deciding that I simply had to hear this guy, purely on the basis of Mike’s write-up. A week later, we were mailing demo tapes to each other across the Atlantic. Splendid!
“For someone with Mike Varney’s authority and expertise to ‘validate’ what I was doing was enormously encouraging. I can honestly say that getting the official ‘Varney Stamp of Approval’ was one of the key factors in my decision to abandon my English Literature degree course and focus instead on trying to become a professional musician.”