Champaign/Urbana, IL --- 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.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is situated on the campus of the University of Illinois, in the micro-urban community of Champaign-Urbana, and is North America’s premier university-based performing arts complex. ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival (originally called the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival), held biennially, was launched in 2005 and through its eclectic global mix has presented many of the world’s most influential guitarists and bands, including Buddy Guy, Ani DiFranco, Jerry Douglas, Pepe Romero, John McLaughlin, Vernon Reid, Derek Trucks, Kaki King, Andy Summers, The National, Los Lobos, and the North Mississippi Allstars.