Review by Andrea Royston

The Melbourne Guitar Show returned for yet another successful year running. Since 1995, Australian Musician has been promoting contemporary Aussie music and this year featured a haul of local and international artists, as well as a huge gear expo.

Australian Music Association Executive and MGS organiser, Rob Walker, aims to develop the show each year and add value to the live music industry. “We are proud to present such a broad range and quality of guitars, amps and gear from the big brands to local artisans. And each year we get to put together a program of live music featuring the considerable talents of our guitar community. It’s a great weekend for anyone into music, particularly guitars.”

Various information seminars, demonstrations and live performances took place from Australia’s most talented guitarists. Some of these names included Keith Merrow and Dennis Jones, both from the USA. They joined a huge list of local talent including Ash Grunwald, Sarah McLeod, Dave Leslie, Lloyd Spiegel, Minnie Marks, Phil Manning, Jeremy Barnes, Simon Hosford’s Fair Warning (who played the entire Van Halen debut album), Michael Dolce, James Ryan, Charlie Bedford and Shannon Bourne.

This year the show attracted a variety of artists and music enthusiasts. From experienced artists seeking to further their skills to beginners looking for an opportunity to learn some riffs – there was something for everyone to do.

First level showed off all the Electric gear with the likes of guitars (in all forms), effect pedals, amps and any accessory you could think of. The exhibitors comprised of various Melbourne music stores and guitar brands, ranging from Yamaha to Fender. The best part about this was that not only could you look but you could touch! Exhibitors allowed anyone to step forward and have a jam on their dream guitar.

Once you did the rounds in the loud zone you could head on upstairs for a little acoustic time. Some beautiful pieces were on display up there, many with different grain patterns in the woodwork and many unique designs.

To get out of the hustle and bustle of the expo, guests could head into various stage rooms and watch some live music. There was a bit there for everyone; slow guitar, fast guitar, soft guitar and very loud guitar. Australian country rock band, Stars, played an hour set which drew a fair crowd and had everyone tapping their feet. Following this set was an appearance by Jeremy Barnes (also known as one of the ‘fastest guitarists’).  The Saturday session of the expo hosted artists including Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus) and Ash Grunwald.

There was something exciting going on throughout the entire venue. As desirable as it would have been to be in multiple places at once, it just was not possible. However, one of the best places to be was at ‘Whammy Bar’ where you could sit back, relax and enjoy some live music. This was a great opportunity to take a seat, get a drink and be exposed to some raw talent.

The expo finished on a loud and energetic note when the Triple M Finale Jam took place in the Whammy Bar. Jam regulars Simon Hosford (Fair Warning, Vanessa Amorosi) and James Ryan (Kate Ceberano) put together a jam band with Mal Eastick (Stars), Michael Spiby (The Badloves), Pete Robinson (Russell Morris, Electric Mary), Dennis Jones (USA), Mick Pealing (Stars), Roger McLachlan (LBS, Stars) and welcomed new comers Kathleen Halloran, Charlie Bedford and Marcus Ryan.