2016 Guest Artists
Robben Ford (San Diego Session)
Guitar virtuoso Robben Ford’s artful, contemporary songwriting and stunning playing has made him a favourite foil of Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and other legends. The five-time Grammy nominee has an extensive discography, which embraces more than 35 albums under his own name and with his various bands. There’s also Ford’s session and sideman work, which includes hundreds of concert appearances and albums. Under the spell of early blues-rock guitar hero Michael Bloomfield, Ford took up the six-string as a teenager. He and his brothers formed the Ford Blues Band, which still performs today. Robben then supported harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite and, later, played with blues giant Jimmy Witherspoon on festival stages. In 1974, Robben joined the historic fusion group Tom Scott & The L.A. Express and began touring with Joni Mitchell. Later that year ex-Beatle George Harrison enlisted Ford and Scott to join him on his Dark Horse tour, which was followed by more touring with Joni Mitchell. Ford went on to record and tour with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Phil Lesh, KISS, Barbara Streisand, Rickie Lee Jones and a host of others. By the time he joined Miles Davis’ group in the ’80s, he’d developed a signature approach based on an axis of blues, jazz, pop and rock. Since leaving Davis’ band, Ford has primarily forged his own path — touring and cutting a series of varied sounding albums with the Ford Brothers, Blue Line and Renegade featuring fellow guitar master Michael Landau.
Brent Mason (Nashville Session)
Brent was so young when he first played his father’s guitar that he was unable to hold it properly. He would lay it down and play it with a butter knife like a slide! Brent had a passion for Jerry Reed’s style of playing so he packed up and headed for Nashville. The great Chet Atkins came to watch him play and was so impressed, he came back and brought George Benson with him. Brent has since had a prolific career as a session musician. He has worked with the likes of Randy Travis, Mark Knopfler, Chet Atkins, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Brad Paisley, James Burton, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, and Steve Wariner among others. Brent’s solo recording ‘Hot Wired’ fast became the bench mark for country/western swing guitar playing and was nominated for a Grammy. Brent also won a Grammy for ‘Best Instrumental Country Recording’ in 2009. Brent has also released instructional videos and has a PRS signature model guitar.
Albert Lee (Toronto – Session 1)
Whether it is his legendary work with Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Eric Clapton or his own solo work, not many pickers have been more influential than “Gallery of the Greats” guitarist Albert Lee. The multiple Grammy award winning British guitarist, known for his lightning speed picking, replaced Jimmy Page in The Crusaders before joining The Thunderbirds in ‘64. After moving to the U.S., Albert began doing session work and has since worked with The Crickets, Everly Brothers, Joe Cocker, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, and many others. At a pivotal point in his career, Albert was asked by Emmylou Harris to replace James Burton - one of his guitar heroes - who was leaving for Elvis Presley’s band. Albert’s first solo album featured perhaps the definitive version of “Country Boy” with Emmylou on backing vocals and Ricky Skaggs on fiddle. When he returned to London for a session recording, Albert met Eric Clapton. He was invited to join his band and played on Clapton’s live album “Just One Night”. Albert would work with Eric for five years before he left to further pursue his solo career. In 2002 he joined other music legends on stage at the Concert for George at the Royal Albert Hall. Albert has also received several Grammy Awards including one for his performance on Brad Paisley’s instrumental “Cluster Pluck” in 2009. Simply put, Albert is a one of a kind guitar legend!
Victor Wooten (Toronto – Session 2)
He is an innovator, composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. He is a skilled teacher, a published author, and a five-time Grammy award winner. Victor, known for his solo recordings and tours, and as a member of the Grammy winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, has won most every major award given to a bass guitarist. He was voted Bassist of the year by Bass Player Magazine three times and is the only person to have won the award more than once. Victor’s uncanny skills lead to recordings and performances with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Mike Stern, Bruce Hornsby, Chick Corea, Dave Matthews, Prince, Keb Mo, Gov’t Mule, Susan Tedeschi, Vital Tech Tones (with Scott Henderson and Steve Smith), and the Jaco Pastorius Word Of Mouth Big Band.
Devin Townsend (Vancouver Session)
Devin Townsend is a Canadian musician, songwriter and record producer. He was the founder, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist in extreme metal band Strapping Young Lad and has had an extensive career as a solo artist. Townsend was discovered by a record label in 1993 and was asked to perform lead vocals on a Steve Vai album. After recording and touring with Vai, Devin released a solo album under the pseudonym Strapping Young Lad. He soon assembled a band under the name, and released the critically acclaimed City in 1997. Since then, he has released more studio albums with Strapping Young Lad, along with solo material released under his own independent record label, HevyDevy Records as the Devin Townsend Project. Townsend's solo albums, a diverse mix of hard rock, progressive metal, ambient, and new-age, have featured a varying lineup of supporting musicians. Across all his bands and projects, Townsend has released almost thirty studio and live albums. Townsend's trademark production style, featuring a heavily multitracked wall of sound, has been compared to the styles of Phil Spector and Frank Zappa. His versatile vocal delivery ranges from screaming to an opera-esque singing, and his songwriting is similarly diverse. Townsend's musical style is rooted in metal, and his albums are written to express different aspects of his personality. Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Devin Townsend...National treasures for the elations of their metal nations, they are. The word genius shouldn’t be thrown around too lightly, but these cats are just that...At least in the world of heavy music. The obsessive Canuck of that trio, Devin Townsend, fully deserves the international success that he enjoys and the legions of fans who love his music.
Gary Hoey (San Diego Session)
With a collection of 19 albums and a #5 Billboard Rock hit with "Hocus Pocus,” it's no wonder Gary Hoey is listed as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time. Gary has toured and traded licks with the likes of Jeff Beck, Brian May of Queen, Ted Nugent, Joe Satriani, The Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, Styx, Steve Vai, Peter Frampton, and Dick Dale. Gary recently produced and co-wrote Lita Ford's latest release. The world renowned rock guitarist takes on the Blues with his latest album "Deja Blues."
Matt Schofield (Nashville Session)
Matt Schofield was rated in the top ten British blues guitarists of all time by Guitar & Bass Magazine alongside such icons as Eric Clapton and Peter Green. His prowess as a blues guitarist has seen him trade licks with iconic guitarists like Buddy Guy and Robben Ford and brought him high praise. Schofield is lauded as the British blues guitarist of current times. Guitarist magazine said, “There isn’t a better British blues guitarist playing currently”. Schofield finds himself as representative for the long tradition of British Blues and gaining a home amongst his peers - the world's greatest contemporary blues players. The LA Times stated, “In Schofield, the UK has produced the best blues guitarist from any country in decades. Head and shoulders above the herd.” Vintage Guitar magazine said, “The best of his generation’s European blues players. His feel for the music is incredible. His playing is so interesting that latching onto his records will reward any guitarist.” The recipient of major awards - British Blues Awards Guitarist of the Year 2010, 2011 & 2012 (making him the first guitarist in the British Blues Awards Hall of Fame), Mojo Magazine Blues Album of the Year 2011 and British Blues Awards Album of the Year 2010 – his music is laced with stunning musicianship; but never at the expense of heart and soul.
Oz Noy (Toronto – Session 1)
“It’s Jazz. It just doesn’t sound like it.” This is how virtuoso guitarist Oz Noy describes his intoxicating blend of jazz, funk, rock, blues, and r&b. Since his 1996 arrival in New York, Oz has made a huge impact on the local and international music scene. His unique and intoxicating style has broken all the rules of instrumental guitar music by focusing on the groove. All-stars such as Keith Carlock, Anton Fig, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Dave Weckl often contribute on drums, with bassists Will Lee, James Genus, and Reggie Washington. Oz has released several highly acclaimed recordings and has won numerous Guitar Player magazine reader’s polls. He is also an in demand teacher and masterclass clinician who has released several instructional videos. Oz has performed, toured and recorded with Richard Bona, Clay Aiken, Toni Braxton, Phoebe Snow, Nile Rogers, John Patitucci, Roger Glover, Bill Evans, Warren Haynes, Gove’t Mule, The Allman Brothers, Eric Johnson, Mike Stern, John Abercrombie, Steve Lukather, Nelly Furtado, Jennifer Hudson, Don Henley, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Paul Shaffer, Sting, Steve Perry, and Allison Krauss among others.
Jennifer Batten (Toronto – Session 2)
The buzz on Jennifer Batten rose from the guitar underground, and the guitar magazines promptly began chronicling her savvy musicianship and highly original approach to the electric guitar. She was selected from over one hundred guitarists to play in Michael Jackson's highly skilled band which toured the world for one and a half years playing for over four and a half million people. Jennifer wasted no time after the “Bad” tour's grand finale, diving into work on her debut album. Upon “Above, Below, and Beyond's” release in the spring of '92, she was asked again to join Michael Jackson for his upcoming "Dangerous Tour". In '93, she joined Jackson to partake in Superbowl XXVII's half time entertainment which aired to one and half billion people in 80 nations. It was the largest audience in television history. Her follow up CD "Momentum" was released just before she left for Michael Jackson's final global tour in support of the HIStory CD in 1997. In ’98, Jeff Beck asked Jennifer to join his band. They joined forces for 3 years on the CD’s "Who Else" and “You Had It Coming” which were both supported by world tours. Jennifer has authored two music books and has released three solo CD’s. Before coming to Guitar Workshop Plus in August, she’ll also join Jeff Beck at the Hollywood Bowl for a special “50 years of Jeff Beck” concert. In Jan 2016 she received the She Rocks “Icon” award and was recently inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery of the Greats”.
Peppino D’Agostino (Vancouver 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.
Nick Johnston (Toronto – Session 2)
Nick Johnston is a Canadian guitarist known for his catchy, melody-driven instrumental music. With his guitar, Nick has been able to carve out his own unique style within a crowded landscape of instrumental guitarists. He has released three solo and his diverse and eclectic inspiration is evident in his sound, which ranges from blues to prog, to jazz, to gypsy, spanning anything and everything in-between. Hailed as a modern guitar virtuoso, Nick remains incredibly modest, his success attributed primarily to a strong work ethic and genuine love for his instrument. His music has attracted guest solos from guitar icons Paul Gilbert and Guthrie Govan and has included rhythm sections featuring Marco Minnemann and Bryan Beller of The Aristocrats. Additionally, Nick has been featured on records for other artists including guest guitar solos for prog-rock bands Periphery and Polyphia.
Mark Kelso (Toronto - Session 1)
Mark’s ability to play a wide variety of musical styles has helped him become one of Canada’s most sought after drummers. An all around player, Mark has worked/recorded with a wide array of artists such as Pat Metheny, Shania Twain, Bonnie Raitt, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Chaka Khan, The Brecker Brothers, Gino Vanelli, Molly Johnson, Holly Cole, Ian Tyson, Amanda Marshall, Michael Buble, his own Juno nominated band The Jazz Exiles, and many others. Not only is he a skilled musician who plays drums and percussion, but he is also a singer, producer and composer as well. Mark is a popular clinician in the drum and percussion world and is head of the percussion department at one of Canada’s leading music programs. He has also been featured in Canadian Musician, Drums etc, and Modern Drummer magazines.