2018 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, 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…..


Albert Lee (San Diego Session)

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 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!

Paul Gilbert (Nashville Session)

From platinum albums and number one chart success as a founding member of MR. BIG, to frightening the guitar community with new levels of ferocious picking technique with shred-pioneers RACER X, to exploring punk, pop, classical, blues, jazz, and progressive instrumental styles in his solo career, Paul Gilbert has recorded a massive amount of stunning guitar music, all while circling the globe to play sold-out arenas. He is perhaps best known for his versatility and speed, which helped him be named as one of the “Top 10 Shredders Of All Time”.Years as a columnist for Guitar Player and Premier Guitar magazines, along with giving countless clinics and private lessons have given Paul deep experience in the art of communicating music to all levels of guitarists. Paul’s groundbreaking “Intense Rock” videos and DVDs have inspired legions of guitarists to improve their accuracy, speed, and phrasing. Although Paul is best known for his work with MR. BIG and RACER X, he has also toured with Joe Satriani’s G3 and played in a host of tribute concerts with legendary drummer Mike Portnoy. Whether he’s playing to 10,000 fans or jamming one-on-one with a student, Paul is living his childhood dream of taking the sounds in his head and bringing them into reality – on the electric guitar.

Duke Robillard (Toronto Session)

One of the most acclaimed blues guitar players, Duke is a legend in the blues community and a one-man cheering section for the blues in all its forms and permutations. B.B. King said Duke is “one of the greatest players”. The Blues Music Awards have named Duke “Best Blues Guitarist” four years in a row making him the second most honoured guitarist for that award!! Other awards include Grammy nominations, three Maple Blues Awards for “Best International Blues Artist,” The Blues Foundation’s “Producer of the Year”, as well as “Album of the Year” and “Guitarist of the Year” awards. He has worked with Roomful of Blues, The Legendary Blues Band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ronnie Earl, Herb Ellis, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Hammond, Joe Bonamassa, and Jimmy Vaughan. Duke’s acclaimed solo albums further prove that he is a complete artist and unique in the blues world. His ability to play across the spectrum of blues and move stylistically from Texas to Swing to Kansas City to Chicago is legendary.

Rhonda Smith (Seattle Session)

Rhonda Smith is a bassist, vocalist, songwriter and clinician, critically acclaimed for her musical abilities in various genres, including smooth jazz/funk to electrified funk/rock. In addition to her current gig as bassist for legendary guitarist Jeff Beck and the near decade she spent recording and touring alongside Prince, Rhonda has performed with the likes of Chaka Khan, Beyonce, Erykah Badu, Patti Austin, Patrice Rushen, Brenda Russell, Sheila E, Lee Ritenour, Larry Graham, Patti Labelle, Little Richard, Justin Timberlake, Najee, Candy Dulfer, Kirk Whalum, George Clinton, Little Richard, Brian Wilson and many others. She is the recipient of a Juno Award, has graced the covers of Bass Player, Bass Frontiers and Bassics magazines and done stints with the Martin Short Show and the Wayne Brady Show. She has released two CDs as a leader, Intellipop and RS2.

Eric Gales (San Diego Session)

It’s well documented that Gales was a child prodigy and heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix when he released his debut album The Eric Gales Band in 1991 as a 16 year old on Elektra Records. It was the first of 10 albums on a major label through a blistering career. He has released 14 studio albums in total ahead of Middle of the Road and a host of other collaborations. Middle of the Road is Eric Gales fourth album on the Mascot label and it sees him at his most expressive yet; it is a deeply personal and reflective record that echoes where he is in his life right now and he opens himself up and allows himself the chance to really flourish. Recent years have seen an array of musicians singing the praises of Eric Gales. Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers) exclaimed that “How Eric Gales isn’t the hugest name in blues/rock guitar is a total mystery”, modern blues icon Joe Bonamassa said he is “One of the best, if not the best guitar player in the world”, whilst Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge) says ‘this guy could be the best player on Earth.'” Carlos Santana says: “He is absolutely incredible” Eric has also played with Eric Johnson, Lauryn Hill, Gary Clark Jr, Lance Lopez, Gary Hoey, Beth Hart, and others.

Andy McKee (Nashville Session)

Andy McKee is among the world’s finest acoustic guitarists. His youthful energy and attention to song structure and melodic content elevates him above the rest. He entertains both the eye and the ear as he magically transforms the steel string guitar into a full orchestra via his use of altered tunings, tapping, partial capos, percussive hits and a signature two-handed technique. McKee’s crossover success has helped him to achieve millions upon millions of YouTube viewers, underscoring his emergence as one of today’s most unique and influential artists. He has been featured as a cover story in Acoustic Guitar Magazine and is also the figurehead of the unique Guitar Masters tours. McKee’s tour dates have taken him through Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, including tours with legendary acts including Prince and Dream Theater. McKee is the first artist to be signed CGP Sounds, the record label founded by fellow guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.

Tosin Abasi (Toronto Session)

Tosin Abasi is best known as the founder and lead guitarist of the instrumental progressive metal band Animals as Leaders. Before founding Animals as Leaders, he was the guitarist for the technical metalcore band Reflux. He recorded the first Animals as Leaders release with Misha Mansoor (of Periphery), who produced and recorded the album with Tosin. He has since released four albums with Animals as Leaders: a self-titled debut, Weightless, The Joy of Motion and their most recent album, The Madness of Many. Guitar World ranks Abasi on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time and featured Tosin as a cover story. Tosin also joined Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Zakk Wylde, as part of the Generation Axe tour.

Gary Hoey (Seattle Session)

World renowned blues/rock guitarist Gary Hoey’s first break came in 1987 when Ozzy Osbourne liked Hoey’s tape enough to fly him to LA for an audition. Zakk Wylde eventually wound up with the gig, however Ozzy recommended Hoey move to LA where he was certain he would get noticed, and so he did! In 1992 Gary’s cover of “Hocus Pocus” rocketed into Billboard’s Top 5. With a collection of 19 albums it’s no wonder Gary Hoey is listed as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time. In 1994 Hoey scored the successful “Endless Summer II” soundtrack. In 2012, he produced and co-wrote Lita Ford’s release “Living Like Runaway” to rave reviews. He’s worked with legends like Joe Perry, Roger Daltrey, blues icon Johnny Winter, Robben Ford, and Leslie West to name just a few. He has toured and traded licks with the likes of Jeff Beck, Brian May of Queen, Ted Nugent, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Peter Frampton, and Dick Dale. Hoey has explored many styles of music in his career, but in 2013, came home to the Blues with his release of “Deja Blues.” His latest, 2016’s “Dust & Bones,” is an exuberant fusion of blues and rock. Whatever style he plays, Gary Hoey is a fiery, charismatic player. Whether he’s playing scorching bluesy originals or blues/rock covers, his solos are thrilling and, one thing that remains consistent is Hoey’s impassioned command of the guitar. He can attack his instrument with feral intensity and then play something very soft and achingly beautiful. This ability to mix feeling, phrasing, technique and tone is the true mark of a master guitarist.

Nita Strauss (San Diego Session)

Nita Strauss has become a force to be reckoned with in the music world, dazzling audiences across the US, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and Africa, and sharing the stage with a diverse range of artists including rock legend Alice Cooper, R&B star Jermaine Jackson, early MTV darlings Femme Fatale, video game supergroup Critical Hit and popular tribute band The Iron Maidens. Her skill, exuberant stage presence and love for all things about her instrument have earned her a stellar reputation and endorsements from many top companies. Nita has been featured in many worldwide print magazines and on dozens of albums, trailers, and soundtracks, and is the author of the Premier Guitar column “Drop Dead Shred”. Nita was also the official in-house guitarist for the LA KISS, the arena football team owned by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS. She is one of the most sought after clinicians in the industry and has done extensive clinic tours across multiple continents. Her consistent touring schedule has shown her to play in front of over a million audience members per year consistently for the past several years. Nita has launched her original band, We Start Wars, and classic metal cover band The Starbreakers. She is also touring with Alice Cooper and working on instrumental solo material.

Christie Lenée (Nashville Session)

2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Christie Lenée’s unique guitar work is often compared to Michael Hedges meets Joni Mitchell and Dave Matthews, delivering profound instrumental compositions with heartfelt, consciously uplifting songs. Christie Lenée’s pieces have been showcased at the NAMM Show in Anaheim and Nashville, live on National Television and Radio, on stage with artists such as Tim Reynolds (guitarist for Dave Matthews Band), Andy McKee, Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls, and Stanley Jordan to name a few. Her album “Live at the Hideaway Cafe” was one of three finalists for “Best Album of 2014” (Indie Acoustic Project Awards), including the song “Love Who You Are” nominated for a 2016 Posi Award in the category “Songs for Personal Transformation.”