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ELLNORA 2017 announces lineup and schedule

The long wait is over. Time may fly, but it still seems like ages since the last ELLNORA Guitar Festival. 2017 is an ELLNORA year, and this September, Champaign-Urbana and Krannert Center will welcome some of the world’s best guitarists to the stage once again.

This year’s ELLNORA Festival will take place September 14 – 16, 2017.

Here is the full lineup and schedule for you to check out. Tickets for the event will go on sale at 10 a.m. on July 8. Visit Krannert’s site for more information on tickets.

Thursday, September 14th

The doors open at 6 p.m. with the Opening Night Party. Attendance for the evening is $5.

6:30 p.m. – James Jones Trio

7:30 p.m.  – Samantha Fish

8:45 p.m. – Soulive


10:15 p.m. – Spontaneous Combustion with Kevin Breit and Special Guests

Kevin Breit is the Ambassador Artist for ELLNORA 2017. The versatile multi-instrumentalist has played among some of the top guitarists and musicians over his illustrious career, including Norah Jones and Rosanne Cash. He has played on albums that have garnered ten Grammy Awards. This is just the first event featuring Breit.

Kevin Breit.

Friday, September 15th

12 p.m. – Germán López

5 p.m. – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen

The super quick-picking Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Group of the Year for 2016. Enough said.

5:45 p.m. – Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge

7 p.m. – Lulo Reinhardt and Daniel Stelter

German duo Lulo Reinhardt and Daniel Stelter both come from long lines of musical families. Reinhardt is the grandson of famous pioneering Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Lulo skews towards the jazz genre in his music, but also has clear multicultural influences, specifically those from Latin countries.

Lulo Reinhardt and Daniel Stelter.

7:15 p.m. – Sierra Hull

8:15 p.m. – Jontavious Willis/Ruthie Foster

The amount of knowledge and heart found within the music of blues act Jontavious Willis makes it shocking that he is barely twenty. Coupled with the award-winning Texas blues guitarist Ruthie Wilson, the duo is a force to be reckoned with.

Jontavious Willis.

9:30 p.m. – Lulo Reinhardt and Daniel Stelter

9:45 p.m. – Shovels & Rope

11 p.m. – The Bringing It All Back Home Project: Classic Bob Dylan featuring Jack Brighton and Friends

Saturday, September 16

10 a.m. – Recess Monkey

The family-friendly Recess Monkey kick things off Saturday morning with tracks, no doubt, from their aptly named release, Novelties!, and more. The trio have been combining humor with real musical prowess for over a decade, and are known for their energetic and audience-engaging performances. It’s one of those times when “kid’s music” is good music, too.

11 a.m. – Rez Abbasi Quartet Cine-Concert: A Throw of Dice

12:30 p.m. – Alberta Khoury/Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Classical guitarist Alberta Khoury hails from Australia. Her lightning-fast guitar skills are astonishing for her age, and playing among the members of the hugely acclaimed Los Angeles Guitar Quartet can only add to the wow factor.

1:15 p.m. – Ryley Walker

This will be the first of two performances from indie folk musician Ryley Walker this evening, and his first visit back to C-U since his stint at Pygmalion in 2015, where he put the audience in a trance with long, psychedelic improvisation.

Ryley Walker.

2:15 p.m. – Makana

3 p.m. – Vicente Amigo

4:45 p.m. – Janis Ian

Singer-songwriter Janis Ian found much success in the 1960s and 70s, especially with her plaintive, timeless song “At Seventeen,” which won her a Grammy. Since then, she’s won another, and amassed a large collection of other awards and accolades, as well as becoming an author and columnist.

6 p.m. – Kevin Breit and the Upper York Mandolin Quartet

6:15 p.m. – Alberta Khoury

7:30 p.m. – Jeff Tweedy

The force behind legendary Chicago band Wilco, Jeff Tweedy makes music that subverts the concept of genres in an always unassuming way. His stuff has been called alt-country, alternative rock, folk, indie, and even experimental and adult contemporary. Whatever you want to call his music, it’s undeniable that Tweedy puts his whole self into it, humbly, with a crackly voice and a ton of love.

Jeff Tweedy.

9 p.m. – Ryley Walker

9:15 p.m. – Ronnie Baker Brooks Band

10:45 p.m. – ELLNORA Last Call! featuring Andy Baylor and the 217 All-Stars

View the press release below for additional information on ELLNORA, and visit Krannert’s website for ticket details.

Urbana, IL – On September 14, 15, and 16, 2017, a stunning display of the world’s most remarkable and significant guitarists will gather for the seventh installment of ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival, presented by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Situated in a vibrant micro-urban setting, the internationally recognized, biennial event features “a prodigious array of the world’s most distinctive and influential guitarists” (Premier Guitar) from around the globe, including for 2017 artists rooted in Gran Canaria, Spain, Germany, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and from throughout the United States.

ELLNORA is anything but your typical music festival. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts encompasses six unique, state-of-the-art performance spaces—both formal and informal—that make it particularly well suited to showcase the festival’s impressive range. This year’s incarnation of ELLNORA incorporates 14 ticketed events including performances by Jeff Tweedy, Janis Ian, Ronnie Baker Brooks Band, Vicente Amigo, Rez Abbasi Quartet, Ryley Walker, Kevin Breit, Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, Lulo Reinhardt and Daniel Stelter, Jontavious Willis, and family favorite Recess Monkey, along with at least seven free shows featuring artists Germán López, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Sierra Hull, Makana, and local musicians Jack Brighton and Andy Baylor.

For 2017, ELLNORA will feature guitarist Kevin Breit as an Ambassador Artist. Breit has dazzled Krannert Center crowds in previous ELLNORA festivals with his bands Sisters Euclid and FolkAlarm. He’s performed with Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, k.d. lang, Natalie McMaster, and many others—picking up JUNO Awards, a National Jazz Award, a Gemini Award, and playing on albums that have collected 10 Grammy Awards. Lately, this “guitarist’s guitarist” has been delighting audiences with his mandolin chops, complemented by his masterful skills as a singer and band leader. Breit will perform in a special, late-evening, limited-ticket event called Spontaneous Combustion on ELLNORA’s opening night, Thursday, September 14 with several special guests to be announced. He will also perform with The Upper York Mandolin Quartet in a free show on Saturday, September 16 at 6pm and will help close out the festival on Saturday in the ELLNORA Last Call! concert.   

The $5 Opening Night Party on Thursday, September 14 will include sets of traditional blues from Illinois native James Jones, blistering blues-rock from Blues Music Award-winner Samantha Fish, and a surging funk sound from Soulive. The event will also be recognized as an official part of the University of Illinois’ sesquicentennial celebration.

ELLNORA, which bears the name of its venue’s visionary founder, Ellnora Krannert, provides a vital showcase for some of today’s most prominent female artists. In addition to folk guitar legend Janis Ian, smoldering blueswoman Samantha Fish, and the captivating young mandolinist Sierra Hull, female artists for 2017 also include Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels & Rope, guitarist-singer-songwriter (and Bonnie Raitt collaborator) Ruthie Foster, and the prodigious talent of Australian-born Alberta Khoury, who is a Juilliard School student under the tutelage of 2015 ELLNORA Artist-in-Residence Sharon Isbin.

Originally known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival before being rechristened ELLNORA in 2009, the event is organized by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ director, Mike Ross, and his staff in collaboration with curator and artistic advisor David Spelman, who is also founder/artistic director of the world-renowned New York Guitar Festival. In the years since its debut, ELLNORA has served as a model for other events in the United States and around the world.

View A Short Film: ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival 2013.


Krannert Coffeehouse

Intermezzo cafe at the north end of the Center’s Lobby is an ideal place for patrons to unwind and recharge with the Center’s signature coffee blends, tempting desserts, and daily specials.

Outdoor Tented Area and Food Vendors

Local food vendors will offer everything from appetizers to full meals to desserts in a large tented area on the southeast terrace for the Opening Night Party. The tented area will be open throughout the festival and will feature additional non-performance events.

Festival Store

Promenade gift shop, located at the southwest corner of the Center’s Lobby, will become the official festival store, featuring merchandise, sponsor tables, and meet-and-greets with artists.

Guitar Gallery

Sponsors and artists will come together to create 80+ guitar-shaped art pieces for a massive lobby installation.


Event Tickets go on sale to the public at 10am on Saturday, July 8.

Ticket prices vary. Visit for details.
Donations are welcome throughout the festival to help make ELLNORA programming possible.

Ticket Office Information

Phone: 217/333-6280 or 800/KCPATIX (527-2849)
TTY: 217/333-9714 (for patrons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired)


Email: [email protected]

Mail: Krannert Center Ticket Office
500 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801-3788

In person: Krannert Center Ticket Office, 500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois, from 10am to 6pm every day (sales begin at 10am on Saturday, July 8).


All photos courtesy of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and ELLNORA, with the exception of the Jeff Tweedy photo (courtesy of

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