Flying Guitars Festival in Varazdin in October: Meet the Artists

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An innovative new international guitar festival is coming to Croatia next month – meet the performers.

Varazdin’s culural summer shows no sign of ending… After another successful street performer festival with Spancirfest 2016 in the latter part of August, the city’s rich musical tradition was once again celebrated on September 23, 2016 with the opening of the 46th Varazdin Baroque Evenings, an event of quality classical music that takes the tourist season into October, the Flying Guitars Festival which takes place from October 6-9.


And while Varazdin Baroque Evenings has been taking place annually since 1971, this year will see a contuation of the Varazdin tourist season, with music very much the theme. As previously reported on TCN, the city has decided its great guitar heritage with the first Flying Guitars Festival and Hall of Fame next month. The festival, which will take place in the city of Ivan Padovec, inventor of the 10-string, two neck guitar back in the 19th century, has attracted an impressive list of performers for its first year. Meet them below, and learn more about the festival here.  

⦁ Damir Halilić Hal
Damir Halilić Hal is a musician from Rijeka who regularly performs in Croatia and abroad. He has published six appraised albums both at home and internationally. He shares the stage with the greatest global names of fingerstyle guitar such as Tommy Emanuel, Muriel Anderson, Woody Mann, Peter Finger, Franco Morone, Clive Carroll and thanks to his musical friendships most of them have performed in Croatia. He is the art director of Hal’s All Star Guitar Festival as well as the initiator and art director of the largest blues festival in Croatia, Kastav Blues Festival, while co-directing the programmes of the summer Baška International Guitar Festival.

⦁ Jerko Novak
Jerko Novak is a guitar soloist and educator. He is one of the more significant Slovenian guitarists. He completed guitar education at the Hochschule für Musik in Graz, Austria. He does educational work and is very successful as a composer. He wrote music for theatre plays, film, television and radio shows. He works with many eminent musicians of popular and jazz music.

⦁ Žarko Ignjatović
Žarko Ignjatović graduated in 1983 at the Music Academy in Zagreb (under prof. Darko Petrinjak) and in 1987 at the Hochschule für Musik in Graz (under prof. Margie Bauml – Klasinc). In 1995 he completed a three-year post graduate study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg (under prof. Elliot Fisk). He is a professor of guitar at the Conservatory for Music and Ballet in Maribor. He has many solo performances, while often performing in duet with Jerko Novak.

⦁ Darko Jurković Charlie
Darko Jurković Charlie is a two-time winner of the Croatian vocational award as best jazz guitarist. He was born in 1965 in Rijeka, enrolling in 1989 at the jazz department of the Music Academy in Graz. He is active in many small jazz bands where he cooperates with domestic and foreign musicians. He began playing guitar on his own at sixteen years of age, but already after several years had adopted a special playing technique named the touch technique (two-handed tapping).

⦁ Branimir Bogunović Pif
Branimir Bogunović Pif has recorded as a guitarist and arranger for Croatia Records since 1982 over 10.000 minutes of published music material. He participated in the work of rock groups Nirvana, Hobo, Drugi način, Call 66, Obećanje proljeća, Animatori, Plava trava zaborava, Guitar Playboys. As a support musician he played for Željko Bebek, Drago Mlinarec, Josipa Lisac, Mišo Kovač, Zdenka Kovačiček, Renato Metessi, Tomislav Ivčić, Duško Lokin. He recorded an authored remix of 70 traditional Croatian songs of Zagorje, Prigorje, Međimurje, Slavonia and Dalmatia in the instrumental form.

⦁ Ian Melrose
Fingerstyle guitarist, arranger and composer Ian Melrose is another versatile excellent musician who bases his art interest on the guitar. He is most known to a wider audience as the leading guitarist of the Irish group Clannad and their mix of Celtic and new age sound. He performed live with the group and recorded the album Landmarks which in 1999 won a Grammy in its genre. After signing for the specialized label Acoustic Music Records he completely devoted himself to his projects, resulting in 5 anthological CDs.

⦁ Kelpie i Kerstin Blodig
Kelpie is a duo formed in 1989, a music project by Scottish guitarist Ian Melrose and Norwegian-German singer and guitarist Kerstin Blodig. Kelpie combines Scandinavian songs with Celtic inspired acoustic music. The two musicians regularly perform on tour in Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain and USA.

⦁ King King
King King group as part of the Flying Guitars Festival, or Flight of Fame, the best echo and commendation to the sound of British blues from the 1960s. King King group won five British Blues Awards in 2014, including those for best album and best band, while their album Reaching For the Light in 2015 placed first in voting by the Blues Rock Review. The group is composed of Wayne Proctor (drums), Lindsay Coulson (bass), Alan Nimmo (guitar and vocal) and Bob Fridzema (keyboard).

⦁ BJ Cole
It would be hard to find today a better representative of the pedal steel guitar than Brian John BJ Cole, legendary British musician and producer. Sting describes BJ as the best pedal steel guitarist in the world. Impressive is this incomplete list of names he played/performed with: Humble Pie, Roger Daltrey, Man, Kiki Dee, T. Rex, The Walker Brothers, Uriah Heep, Andy Fairweather Low, Joan Armatrading, Roy Harper, Gerry Rafferty, Cat Stevens, Shakin’ Stevens, Paul Young, David Sylvian, The Stranglers, Deacon Blue, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Sting, Robert Plant, David Gilmour, Tom Jones, Brian Eno, Robbie Williams… In the 1990s BJ Cole performed for six years with former member of Velvet Underground John Cole, while playing with R.E.M. live during their tour at the end of that decade.

⦁ Emily Burridge
Emily Burridge is a cellist and composer, performer and producer with a creative note. Since she was little she has shown talent in improvisation and during years formed a style of playing music outside usual associations with cello as a classical instrument. She uses her improvisation skills and arranging to research new repertoire, currently seen in her cooperation with renown pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole.

⦁ Vedran Božić
Vedran Božić, former member of the domestic supergroup Time (Dado Topić, Tihomir Pop Asanović, Ratko Divjak, Branimir Lambert Živković, Vedran Božić), is one of the best and renown domestic guitarists. A symbolic moment in the career of famed Croatian rock and blues guitarist Vedran Božić (born in Zadar in 1947) was a joint performance in Frankfurt with the greatest guitarist of all times Jimi Hendrix. He was often declared the best Croatian rock guitarist of all time, which has, naturally, opened the doors of guitar Flight of Fame at least halfway.

⦁ Rock Masters
The support band of guitar legends of former Yugoslavia will be a line-up performing under the name Rock Masters. It is composed of members of the Telefon Blues Band, Tomas Krkač, undisputed authority among Croatian bass players, Slavko Pintarić Pišta, several times named the best Croatian drummer, Darko Krznarić, keyboard virtuoso and a member of the Komedija theatre collective in Zagreb Ervin Baučić, named the best Croatian rock singer.

⦁ Brian (Branislav) Rašić
At the mention of the name of Branislav Rašić a light will come on for those who grew up with Yugoslav rock magazine Džuboks and a line of other publications from the 1970s and 1980s. One of the most valued, most wanted and greatest rock and pop photographers. Along with his daily and magazine job, Rašić was the official photographer of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, late David Bowie and David Gilmour, with the renown British daily Guardian selecting one of his photographs of Amy Winehouse as the best from 2011.

The festival kicks off on October 6. To follow the lastest, visit the event Facebook page.


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