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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Air guitarists strut their stuff
By Michael Lloyd
BBC Scotland news website

Clapton or Cash, BB King or John Williams - whatever your playing style the Kirkmichael International Guitar Festival wants to hear from you.

Not for the concerts though, since artists of the calibre of Martin Carthy, Steve Howe of Yes and BBC award winner Martin Simpson are already lined up.

Organiser James Taylor says what he's looking for are wannabe great stars, for what will be a major UK air guitar event.

Photo by Tommi Kohonen
The air guitarist phenomena is now well established on stage
James says he wants to allow would-be guitarists, outclassed by the established artists, to have their own moment of glory.

They'll get their own 15 minutes of fame, playing any style of music they like and with their own roadie to help out.

James says the winner will have to put on a convincing act.

"They are judged on their costume, style and how well they communicate with the audience," he explained.

Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, who founded the Festival, says the air guitar event is in keeping with the ethos of Kirkmichael.

"The whole idea is to have a good time and we like to insert little quirky things. One year we had the Singing Chef, an American guy who sings about cooking," he said.

A top Scottish music festival is hosting the UK's first major air guitar contest
James Taylor
Air guitarist organiser
Martin says air guitar contests are establishing themselves around the world, with internationally accepted rules and major cash prizes at some events.

The Kirkmichael contest winners will have to be content with something a little less grand though, "we're offering them guitar lessons," Martin explained.

The festival began in the Ayrshire village in 1999 and has grown from 200 people in a muddy marquee to an all weekend marathon, attracting 5,000 from across the world.

'Not much to fear'

James says it is probably the only "serious" guitar festival to have an air guitar contest, but he's not embarrassed about that.

"A top Scottish music festival is hosting the UK's first major air guitar contest. - players of world class don't have much to fear from this," he explained.

All the same he's keeping quiet about the identity of the judging panel, "in case of reprisals".

The Kirkmichael International Guitar festival runs from 3 to 5 June.


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