Our guest artists share their knowledge and experiences with our students while visiting classes, conducting clinics, and performing concerts. Past Guest Artists include: Joe Satriani, Alex Lifeson (Rush), Robben Ford, John Scofield, Steve Vai, Randy Bachman, Paul Gilbert, Andy Summers (The Police), Billy Sheehan, Pierre Bensusan, John Petrucci (Dream Theater), John Abercrombie, Duke Robillard, Andy Timmons, Mike Stern, John Knowles, Rik Emmett, John Jorgenson, Sue Foley, Jennifer Batten, Andy McKee, Orianthi, Paul DeLong, Tommy Emmanuel, Rhonda Smith, Guthrie Govan and more…..
Andy Timmons (San Diego Session)
Andy sold over a million records worldwide as guitarist for pop-metal band Danger Danger. He toured the world and had two #1 videos on MTV. His discography includes 7 solo releases ranging from blazing guitar instrumentals, to blues, to pop. As a session player, he's been featured on recordings by drumming legend Simon Phillips, Kip Winger, Paula Abdul, Paul Stanley, and countless radio and television jingles. Andy has been musical director/guitarist for several U.S. tours. He has also played alongside Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Mike Stern, Ace Frehley, Ted Nugent, and Pierre Bensusan. He has also become one of the most respected and sought after clinicians.
Rik Emmett (Toronto Session)
Rik Emmett gained international notoriety as the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist with Triumph. Smash and classic hits such as ‘Hold On,’ ‘Magic Power,’ and ‘Lay It On The Line’ led to ten gold albums, with four turning platinum in Canada. In the U.S., two went gold. Triumph was firmly established as one of the premier touring rock acts in North America. Rik left the band to begin a very successful and versatile solo career. Four gold & platinum decades in the music biz have provided entry into the Canadian Rock Hall of Fame, the Music Industry Hall of Fame and the Junos Hall of Fame, with a few ‘Best Guitarist’ awards in various categories garnered along the way. One of the most versatile players around, Rik is well versed in all styles as a guitarist and songwriter from rock, blues, and jazz to classical and acoustic music. Rik is also an innovative music educator writing columns for Guitar Player magazine and sharing his knowledge and experience at songwriting workshops and programs such as Guitar Workshop Plus.
Johnny Hiland (Nashville – Session)
Johnny Hiland was born with a medical condition causing involuntary eye movement which rendered him legally blind. He grew up in Maine and took to the guitar at a young age. At eight, he joined his family's band and, at age ten, Hiland won the Talent America contest. Johnny began as a bluegrass player and, besides guitar, also plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin. In high school, his musical tastes extended beyond bluegrass to play jazz, blues and the guitar rock of players like Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen. Johnny moved to Nashville in the early 90’s and was quickly noticed as one of the best guitar players around. In a matter of a few short years, he reached critical acclaim as one of the best in the world. He has headlined the legendary Grand Ole Opry as a solo artist twice and performed on Prime Time Country. Johnny signed with Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label as a solo artist and The Johnny Hiland Band released two studio albums of original country and rock guitar instrumentals. In, 2011 Johnny signed with Mike Varney's Shrapnel Records. Johnny also became a busy studio session musician in Nashville playing on projects for artists like Toby Keith, Trick Pony, Ricky Skaggs, Janie Fricke, Lynn Anderson, Randy Travis, and Hank III. He also has performed on stage with artists such as Sammy Hagar, George Clinton and P Funk, Steve Vai, Les Paul, and a host of other greats. Johnny has been named to many “Best of” lists in guitar circles over the years including being named one of the “5 Best Chickenpickers” by Gibson and one of the “50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time” by Guitar World magazine. Today Johnny is simply known as one of the top guitar players in the world.
Tony MacAlpine (Seattle Session)
Tony MacAlpine is widely known as a guitar virtuoso who is just as skilled on the keys. Edge of Insanity, one of his fourteen solo albums, is still considered as one of the top ten shred guitar albums of all time. Aside from his solo work, Tony has also been part of several rock supergroups including Planet X with Derek Sherinian and Virgil Donati, PSMS (Portnoy/Sheehan/MacAlpine/Sherinian), as well as the Grammy nominated CAB with bassist Bunny Brunel and drummer Dennis Chambers. MacAlpine also spent seven years playing guitar and keys in Steve Vai‘s touring band.
Antoine Dufour (Toronto Session)
Canadian guitarist Antoine Dufour is known colloquially among the best guitar players in the world as a musician’s musician. To fans of popular music, he deftly combines jaw-dropping guitar playing skills and an artistic soul in crafting instrumental compositions that reflect ambient and progressive music that transcends global cultures and languages. That he does this in an incredibly visual and entertaining style has endeared him to a broad spectrum of fans of popular music. Records of accomplishment include first place at the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championships, Third place at the ultra-prestigious international guitar championships, recording for the leading instrumental music record label Candyrat, plus touring and playing with luminary guitar players such as Andy McKee and Don Ross. With several albums of original material released to critical acclaim, two live performance DVDs, 6 years of global touring and more than 50 million cumulative views on YouTube, Antoine Dufour has emerged as a young star of fingerstyle acoustic guitar, building a worldwide reputation for innovation and creativity.
Bryan Beller (San Diego Session)
Bryan Beller has maintained a multi-faceted career as a bassist, composer, writer and clinician for over 20 years, earning his reputation as a uniquely talented yet supremely tasteful team player for instrumentally-minded artists. In the power super-trio The Aristocrats (with uber-players Guthrie Govan on guitar and Marco Minnemann on drums) he’s a part of the hottest new act in rock/fusion today; their latest release Tres Caballeros dropped jaws around the world. Beller has been Joe Satriani’s tour bassist for both the Unstoppable Momentum and Shockwave world tours in addition to featuring on the Shockwave Supernova record. He was Steve Vai’s choice for the live CD/DVD Where The Wild Things Are and is also in the "band" Dethklok, a tongue-in-cheek extreme metal band. He tracked on the last two Dethklok releases and has anchored the band for three nationwide tours to date, alongside metal monsters Mastodon and Machine Head, among others. He’s been a musical partner of freak/genius guitarist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa) for over 17 years and 10 albums, while his versatility was on display touring intimate venues for several years with R&B/soul singer/songwriter/keyboardist Kira Small. On his own, Beller’s released three rock/jazz fusion solo albums to widespread acclaim. He released an instructional DVD, Mastering Tone And Versatility, and is also a featured artist on instructional websites. As a pure player, a masterclass clinician, a former Contributing Editor for Bass Player Magazine, and a former VP of SWR bass amps, Beller brings a global perspective to the world of bass.
Mike Stern (Nashville Session)
One of the most esteemed electric guitarists of his generation, Mike Stern has distinguished himself over a four-decade career that has encompassed musical partnerships with Blood, Sweat & Tears, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers and Joe Henderson, as well as 16 recordings as a leader (six of which were nominated for GRAMMY® Awards). An electrifying soloist whose blistering chops combine rock-fusion firepower with sophisticated jazz harmonies and his inherently bluesy string bending prowess, Stern has the ability to instantly elevate the proceedings on any gig or session he plays by channeling the spirits of his own personal guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall and Albert King. On his latest recording, Eclectic, Stern goes toe-to-toe with Texas guitar slinger Eric Johnson in a scintillating, six-string summit meeting that is manna for guitar aficionados. He has been named Best Jazz Guitarist Of The Year by the readers and critics of Guitar Player and was presented with Guitar Player magazine’s Certified Legend Award in 2012. His latest solo release was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
Don Ross (Toronto Session)
One of today’s true innovators of guitar composition and technique, Don Ross has emerged as one of the most respected musicians in Canada and one of the top guitarists in the world. Noted for the emotion and intensity of his playing as well as his use of extended technique, Don's music borrows from blues, jazz, folk and classical music creating a style that he describes as "heavy wood.” Don is the only person to twice win the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship (1988 and 1996). His album Huron Street reached the top ten on the Billboard new age chart. His album Passion Session has gone on to top many of the “all time best acoustic guitar recordings” lists in publications like Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Don passionately plays the six and seven string guitars as well as dobro. He has released several mostly instrumental CDs, has published three instructional videos, several single transcriptions, a book with nine of his pieces, and has worked with Canadian Musician magazine. Don continues to tour extensively across Canada, the USA, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia, Russia and India. He has played with symphony orchestras in Canada and Germany, and collaborated live and on recordings with Andy McKee, Canadian singer/guitarist Brooke Miller, & Toronto bassist Jordan O’Connor. He also composes scores for television, radio and film, and does production and recording engineering for a variety of other musicians.
Peppino D'Agostino (Seattle Session)
Peppino emerged on the musical scene in the late 1980’s and helped redefine the boundaries of the acoustic guitar. His virtuosic technique, penchant for open tunings, and percussive effects are the basis of his unique compositional style which has been inspiring musicians and audiences alike for years. Add to that his natural warmth, playfulness, and broad musical tastes and you have the recipe for what he calls “minestrone music.” D’Agostino has performed in more than 26 countries, been featured at prestigious international music festivals, was voted Best Acoustic Guitarist by Guitar Player magazine readers, and his album “Every Step of the Way” was named one of the top three acoustic guitar albums of all time by Acoustic Guitar magazine readers. He frequently plays with prominent artists around the world including Tommy Emmanuel, Leo Kottke, Martin Taylor, and Eric Johnson. In addition to performing Peppino also makes time for teaching. He enjoys meeting with individual students as well as providing group instruction explaining his influential guitar techniques and approach to composition. All these projects although different in nature and scope have one thing in common – D’Agostino’s ongoing desire to expand the repertoire of the steel string guitar and to reaffirm the important role that music plays in our lives.
Debbie Davies (San Diego Session)
Debbie Davies is an award-winning singer, songwriter, guitar player of extraordinary talent. A professional musician since the early 1980s, Debbie ranks among the top blues artists in the U.S. She has received ten nominations for Blues Music Awards, and has twice won the award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. Originally from Los Angeles, Davies cut her teeth playing in blues and rock ‘n roll bands in the San Francisco Bay area before returning to Los Angeles in 1984. In 1988 she was recruited by the legendary Albert Collins to join the Icebreakers, and for the next three years she was a featured guitarist performing behind one of the most innovative bluesmen of all time. During her tenure with Albert, Debbie was invited to perform on a John Mayall album and she recorded with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers on a Grammy nominated album. Debbie has produced eleven solo recordings. The roster of other artists who Debbie has worked with reads like a who’s who of the blues: Albert Collins, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Tommy Shannon, Chris “Whipper” Layton, Sugar Ray Norcia, Mudcat Ward, Charlie Musselwhite, Bruce Katz, Per Hanson, Noel Neal, and Rod Carey. A thirty-year veteran of the road, Debbie Davies is truly one of the leading lights on the contemporary blues music scene today.
Mike Keneally (Seattle Session)
Long acclaimed as one of the world’s most creative and intense guitar and keyboard players, Mike Keneally’s talents as a vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist are nearly unequalled in rock music. Mike has released 24 albums of his original music and has built a body of work of remarkable inventiveness and originality. Keneally played in Frank Zappa’s last touring band, performing as a vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist. He’s appeared on many Zappa albums, is currently a touring member of both Dethklok and the Joe Satriani Band, and has also recorded or performed with Robert Fripp, Wayne Kramer, Kevin Gilbert, Solomon Burke, Steve Vai, Chickenfoot, Bear McCreary, Henry Kaiser, Michael Manring, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Andy Prieboy, Mullmuzzler, The Persuasions and many others. Known for his innovative, unpredictable live shows, Keneally has played extensively in the United States and Europe, in contexts ranging from solo and duo concerts to performances with large-scale orchestras. Keneally’s most recent album is You Must Be This Tall, featuring Mike playing all instruments on several pieces, as well as performances from Marco Minnemann, Bryan Beller and Andy Partridge.