ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival is upon us. First of all, how amazing is it that we have a first rate guitar festival put on in our town every other year? Krannert has a knack for bringing shows to town that I, for one, feel like I hardly deserve. It’s like I have no business having this kind of access to this kind of talent. Talent that for the most part I often would not be aware of, if not for Krannert’s cultural curation delivering it to me on a silver platter.
Embracing artists of wildly diverse genres, ELLNORA truly is a celebration of the diverse character of the guitar. In the hands of classical guitarists Alberta Khoury or Jiji, it takes on the character of a full ensemble of string musicians. In the hands of bluesmen Ronnie Baker Brooks or James Jones, it’s pure attitude. In the hands of Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, it’s halcyon tranquility sonified. It can be plucked with the utmost delicacy, shredded to bits beneath a flurry of notes, or (perhaps most commonly) strummed clumsily, and yet — all of this we call playing the guitar.
The festival kicks off this Thursday night and runs through Saturday night. It seems cruel to only discuss a few of these artists, as the lineup is truly incredible. Many of the artists I was not familiar with, but as I YouTubed my way through samples of their playing, I inevitably would find myself staring, slackjawed. I defy you to watch Sierra Hull (pictured above) shred the mandolin into tiny little, beautiful, bluegrassy pieces and not be awestruck.