2020 Guest Artists

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, Brent Mason, Mike Stern, John Knowles, Rik Emmett, John Jorgenson, Sue Foley, Jennifer Batten, Andy McKee, Orianthi, Paul DeLong, Tommy Emmanuel, Rhonda Smith, Guthrie Govan, Albert Lee, Eric Gales, and many more!


Our 2020 Guest Artists include:

Mark Holcomb (Toronto Session)

Born in the Philippines, raised in California, and now based in Austin, TX, Mark Holcomb is a guitarist for the 5-piece progressive metal band, Periphery. The band has become a force to be reckoned with in the progressive scene thanks to their complex rhythms and soaring melodies. The band’s release, Periphery IV: Hail Stan was met with rave reviews and reached #1 on the US Independent Albums chart. Mark and fellow Periphery member Misha Monsoor are also members of the project Haunted Shores. Guitarist Mark Holcomb helps achieve this full, lethal sound with his PRS guitars and signature Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega pickups.

Mark Whitfield (San Diego Session)

A native New Yorker, Mark Whitfield graduated from Berklee College of Music to embark on a career as a jazz guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with legendary artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Carmen McRae, Gladys Knight, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry, Shirley Horn, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joe Williams, Stanley Turrentine and his greatest teacher and mentor, George Benson. The New York Times dubbed Whitfield “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business” when his debut album “The Marksman” was released. This led to a recording career that has produced a total of 14 solo recordings and a myriad of collaborative efforts with some of the most important artists in recent years including Sting, Steven Tyler, D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Chris Botti, Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton.

Brent Mason (Nashville Session)

Brent Mason is one of the most recorded guitarists in history. As one of the titans of the Nashville studio scene, his impact on the “Nashville Sound” cannot be overstated. His versatile and ear-catching guitar work has helped define the works of some of the greatest Country Music Artists of all time. Brent is a Grammy Award winner, a 12-time winner of the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Guitarist of the Year Award, and a two-time winner of the CMA Award Musician of the Year. He has been named as one of the top ten session guitarists of all time, joining the ranks of Jimmy Page, Larry Carlton, Tommy Tedesco and Steve Cropper. Brent has played on well over a thousand albums and continues to add to this extensive resume. To date he has played on over 2,000 top ten hit singles. He has also released two of his own albums, produced a number of artists, and holds several credits as a songwriter. In October 2019 he was inducted into the Musician’s Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of the Nashville Cats Series.

Josh Smith (Seattle Session)

Blues rock guitar virtuoso, singer-songwriter and producer, Josh Smith, is hailed the world over as a master guitarist with raw talent and power to spare. Blending his signature mix of blues, rock and jazz into dynamic original songs, Smith is known for his incendiary live performances, whether at the Grammy Awards or the Kennedy Center Honors with Mick Jagger, Raphael Saadiq and others. Josh has been named the 16th best living blues guitar player in the world by Guitar World Magazine. Josh started playing guitar at age six. Praised as a blues prodigy by the time he was 12 years old, he began playing at professional blues jams in South Florida, sitting in with such greats as Jimmy Thackery, Tinsley Ellis, Kenny Neal, Lucky Peterson, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Johnny “Clyde” Copeland, Double Trouble, Joanna Connor and Kim Simmonds, among others. Josh has released 11 albums. Along with touring the world, recording and performing with renowned artists such as BB King, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Kirk Fletcher and others, Smith is also a producer and owns Flat V Studios in Los Angeles. He has produced artists Reese Wynans (Joe Bonamassa), Artur Menezes (winner of the Eric Clapton 2019 Crossroads Festival) Seth Rosenbloom, Jamey Arent and many more.

Marco Mendoza (Toronto Session)

In the world of bass guitar there is not much Marco can’t do or hasn’t done. The Los Angeles native who has a proud Spanish/Mexican heritage has recorded and toured with some of the biggest names in the rock and music industry such as Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, Lynch Mob, Neal Schon, Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries, The Dead Daisies, Blue Murder, and John Sykes. The list literally goes on and on! Marco is a dynamic live performer who is equally at home in a huge stadium or a small jazz club. He can cover just about any musical style from jazz, fusion, world music, Latin groove to all out hard rock. In addition he is an accomplished vocalist who has written and recorded highly acclaimed solo albums. He just recently released his third solo album ‘Viva La Rock’ which has received rave reviews the world over. With a cauldron full of influences caressing Marcos’ Rock sound including blues, funk and R and B, there is something for everyone that loves great music.


Sue Foley (San Diego Session)

Sue Foley is a multi-award-winning musician and one of the finest blues and roots artists working today. She’s a triple-threat as a lead guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. Foley has a long history of defying convention, and being a positive role model for aspiring, young female musicians. She began her recording career in Austin, TX with Antone’s, the esteemed blues label and historic nightclub that helped launch the career of Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others. She won the prestigious Juno Award (Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) in 2001, she holds the record for the most Maple Blues Awards in Canada, and she has earned three Trophees de Blues de France. She has also garnered several nominations at the Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation. Her latest release, The Ice Queen was recorded in Texas. The album represents Foley’s full circle journey – her return to the roots of her career in Austin and her reconnection with many old friends. Joining Sue on the album is a trio of legendary Texas guitar slingers – Jimmie Vaughan, Billy F Gibbons (ZZ Top) and Charlie Sexton – as well as a host of other Lone Star State all-stars. The Ice Queen has been nominated for a Juno Award, Two Blues Music Awards and Six Maple Blues Awards. Sue and her band continue to keep a vigorous touring schedule.

David Grissom (Nashville Session)

David Grissom has worked with artists such as Buddy Guy, John Mellencamp, Joe Ely, Storyville, The Allman Brothers Band, The Dixie Chicks, Chris Isaak, Robben Ford, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Montgomery Gentry, Ringo Starr, and John Mayall. His songs have been recorded by Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack, John Mayall, Rita Coolidge and Storyville among others. David moved to Austin in 1983 and quickly became a stalwart on the vibrant local scene. He joined Texas legend Joe Ely’s band in 1985 and toured and recorded non-stop until 1991 when he joined John Mellencamp’s band. David made 3 records with John and toured extensively from 1991 through 1993. After, Mellencamp, David went back to Texas to form Storyville, the band that included the Double Trouble rhythm section and powerhouse vocalist Malford Milligan. Since 2000, David has divided his time between recording sessions, including four Buddy Guy records, and scores of Americana releases, along with touring with the Dixie Chicks from 2003-2007, and playing hundreds of live gigs, designing signature guitars and amps with PRS Guitars, and producing his five solo CD’s.

Mike Dawes (Seattle Session)

Mike Dawes is an English guitarist known for composing, arranging, and performing multiple parts simultaneously on one instrument. He is hailed as one of the world’s most creative modern fingerstyle guitarists with a repertoire spanning solo viral video hits alongside mainstream chart success performing with Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues. Dawes was named “Best Acoustic Guitarist in the World” by Total Guitar Magazine/Music Radar in both 2017 and 2018 readers polls. Dawes’ recent solo album, ERA, spawned a viral hit with his arrangement of “One” by Metallica that has over 4 million YouTube views. His debut record featured the fan favorite original, “Boogie Slam” and another viral hit with the song, “Somebody That I Use To Know” with almost 5 million YouTube views. Mike is also featured on multiple Justin Hayward live releases such as Spirits…Live, which debuted at #2 on the US Billboard Chart. Mike also has a strong reputation as a music educator, acting as a columnist for Guitar World and Acoustic Guitar as well as teaching multiple guitar workshops all over the world. In addition to touring North America and Europe with Justin Hayward, Dawes has also toured with fingerstyle guitarists such as Andy McKee and Tommy Emmanuel. As well, Dawes has been a part of several ‘International Guitar Night’ tours.