ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival Wraps Another Successful Year

ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival held at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on the University of Illinois campus September 8-10 celebrated its fourth incarnation this past weekend. With nearly 30 performances – including 17 free shows and 10 ticketed events – the biennial event hosted a truly international cast of players in the micro-urban city of Champaign-Urbana, IL and welcomed more than 11,500 music fans throughout the weekend.

Festival highlights included choice billing featuring two-time Grammy Award winner Taj Mahal with fellow Grammy-winners the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Alvin Youngblood Hart, a rocking Opening Night set from noted producer/recording artist Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub, a pickin’ party from bluegrass renegades Chris Thile and Michael Daves, and a Latin-infused dance set from Marc Ribot and Los Cubanos Postizos, among others. Veteran progressive-rock guitarist Adrian Belew also provided an inside look into his pioneering past with his Keynote Address followed by a rousing solo acoustic performance at the Krannert’s Center’s intimate outdoor amphitheater.

As in year’s past, mixed media and performance art also played a prevalent role in this year’s ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival, which proudly hosted the world premiere of The Great Flood, a stirring multi-media work of original music by Bill Frisell and film by Bill Morrison inspired by the 1927 Mississippi River floods. My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden wowed the audience with a moving performance while folk-rocker Richard Thompson’s lightning fast playing left spectators breathless.

Luther Dickinson rounded out the festival lineup as ELLNORA’s first Artist-in-Residence, sitting in with Malian guitar great Vieux Farka Toure, Memphis bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart, Brooklyn’s instrumental outfit Redhooker and lap-steel master Robert Randolph. Dickinson also sat down at ELLNORA to read a few handpicked passages from the soon-to-be-published memoirs from his late father, Jim Dickinson.

For videos, photos, podcasts and more, check out www.ellnoraguitarfestival.com.