Smile Politely

Ellnora Guitar Festival coming this weekend

URBANA – Thursday starts one of the biggest and most unique festivals in the Champaign-Urbana community, Ellnora | The Guitar Festival.

The guitar fest, which in past years was known as the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival, has been an every-other-year extravaganza with performances from some of the most diverse and talented guitarists in the world. playing virtually every musical form on this amazing instrument from classical to rock, folk, blues and jazz and highlighting such virtuosos as Kaki King (whose music was the inspiration for the movie “August Rush”), Los Lobos, and the legendary bluesman Buddy Guy.

This year the Krannert brings to town more celebrated artists, changes the festivals name and shines a light on a 2003 Uni High alum, Jake Hertzog.

Local Jake Hertzog, who just finished a national tour with the Nickelodeon hit group “The Naked Brothers” is back in Champaign to bring his guitar brilliance back to our ears. Hertzog went to University High School and then got a scholarship to study jazz guitar at the esteemed Berklee School of Music in Boston. Ever since then, Jake has been on the fast track to success, releasing his first major album, Chromatosphere, to critical acclaim earlier this year.

“It’s amazing to have the guitar festival in my home town. Taking all the guitarists that I love and appreciate and bringing them back to my hometown, that’s awesome!” says Hertzog. “I’ve always wanted to bring my New York trio back home and this is definitely the best way to showcase it. We are so lucky to have a place like the Krannert Center, it just goes to show you the appreciation for the arts in our small town.”

This time around the Krannert Center has once again brought together a mesh of artists from every genre from the alternative band The National to blues sensation Keb’ Mo’. “The amount of talent we have this year is amazing,” says Festival director Mike Ross, “I just can’t wait to see all the sets and performances. These artists bring such a passion to their work that’s impossible to say who is better than the other.”

Among the other highly acclaimed artists you can catch at this year’s festival:

Keb’ Mo’, a talented blues guitarist and winner of three Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Blues Album, brings his soulful rich music to the Krannert Center. Always a charismatic entertainer, Keb’Mo’ is one artist that cannot be missed for lovers of the blues.

Derek Trucks was named as one of the next “Guitar Gods” in a 2007 issue of Rolling Stone for his unique style of slide guitar. Ever since age nine, this guitar prodigy has worked with the best of the best when it comes to the guitar business and now he is one of the very best himself.

Ani DiFranco has been one of the most prolific women in folk music over the past 30 years, releasing over twenty major albums. Her combination of creative guitar techniques and sophisticated lyrics make Ani one of the more engaging artists at Ellnora.

The National, a Brooklyn-based indie rock band, has been a critically acclaimed group whose most recent album, Boxer, was named the number one album of the year in 2007 by Paste Magazine. On the strings of brothers Aaron & Bryce Dessner, the National is sure to delight.

The Long Count, a combination of members of the National, My Brightest Diamond, and Kim and Kelley Deal from the Breeders, will be getting together to share a unique meditation on the Mayan calendar and the beginning of the world, which also somehow involves a baseball diamond.

Saturday morning rings in the festival’s Bachfest featuring three guitar acts, Nigel North, Paul Galbraith, and the Brazilian Guitar Quartet all giving props to Johann Sebastian Bach. If this does not demonstrate the diverse range of music at the festival, I don’t know what does.

Along with the regular concerts in different settings around the Krannert Center this year we see the addition of the “Not So Silent Film” series. These groups of concerts will be instrumental acts with the addition of slideshows and films that are sure to be a delight to the ears and eyes. Also while you are waiting for the next concert you can stop into the Krannert coffee house and be delighted with a free concert from any number of artists.

The change in the festival’s name of the festival is meant as a tribute. Ellnora Krannert was one of the Krannert Center’s founders and was a thoughtful benefactor of the arts. “Ellnora’s gift and philosophy runs through our institution’s DNA,” says Krannert Director Mike Ross. “Her generosity and interest in the arts is in the backbone of what the Krannert Center is today. She wanted a place where people of all different walks of life and interests could come to see something and then interact with others with a true sense of community. It will be great to have this amazing wacky festival to be associated with Ellnora.”

Official Schedule for the Ellnora Guitar Festival

Thursday, September 10th: Opening Night
Opening Night Party — 7:00 p.m. | Lobby and Amphitheatre | $5 (Artists in list of performance time)
— Chica Libre
— Junior Brown
— The Derek Trucks Band
— Frank Vignola Trio

Friday, September 11th: Day Two
Dane Zanes and Friends — 12:00 p.m. | Lobby | Free
Brasil Guitar Duo — 3:00 p.m. | Stage 5 | Free
The Jerry Douglas Band — 5:00 p.m. | Lobby | Free
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya — 6:15 p.m. | Lobby | Free
The Long Count — 7:00 p.m. | Colwell Playhouse | $8-$30
A Story of Floating Weeds with Live Music by Alex De Grassi — 8:30 p.m. | Amphitheatre | Free
Keb’ Mo’ Band — 10:00 p.m. | Tryon Festival Theatre | $23-$45
The Sisters Euclid — 11:15 p.m. | Stage 5 | Free

Saturday, September 12th: Day Three
Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya — 9:00 a.m. | Lobby | Free
Bachfest — 10:00 a.m. | Foellinger Great Hall | $8-$30
Natalie Zuckerman and Erin McKeown — 12:00 p.m. | Stage 5 | Free
Jake Hertzog Trio With Harvie S and Victor Jones — 1:00 p.m. | Stage 5 | Free
Bill Frisell’s Disfarmer Project — 2:00 p.m. | Colwell Playhouse | $8-$30
Brazilian Bash — 3:30 p.m. | Foellinger Great Hall | $18-$34
Richard Julian and Jim Campilongo — 6:00 p.m. | Stage 5 | Free
Ani DiFranco — 7:00 p.m. | Colwell Playhouse | $18-$38
The Goddess With Live Music by The Leni Stern Quartet — 8:30 p.m. | Amphitheatre | Free
The National — 10:00 p.m. | Tryon Festival Theatre | $12-$28
Laurie Morvan Band — 11:30 p.m. | Lobby | Free


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