Guitar Week Staff – July 23-29, 2023


Grant Gordy |

For several years Brooklyn-based guitarist Grant Gordy has been a major voice on the American ‘acoustic music’ scene, and one of the most highly-regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. Having held the ‘guitar chair’ in the legendary David Grisman Quintet for six years, he’s also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Edgar Meyer, Steve Martin, Tony Trischka and Darol Anger. Grant has performed all over North America and Europe, everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Montreal Jazz Festival to Jazz at Lincoln Center to Bonnaroo. His music has been heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, and he’s received attention from international music periodicals such as The Fretboard Journal, Acoustic Guitar magazine, Japanese bluegrass publication Moonshiner, Just Jazz Guitar and Flatpicking Guitar magazine. In addition to freelancing as a soloist and collaborator in New York City as an acoustic guitarist, and on electric in the city’s thriving jazz scene, Grant’s current bands include Mr Sun, an acoustic supergroup of sorts with Darol Anger (violin), Joe K. Walsh (mandolin) and Aidan O’Donnell (bass), a duo with guitarist Ross Martin – their debut, Year of the Dog was released in 2016 – and his own Quartet featuring prodigious acoustic talents Alex Hargreaves (violin) and Dominick Leslie (mandolin).

Sean McGowan is a fingerstyle jazz guitarist who combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures within his compositions and arrangements for solo guitar. His first recording, River Coffee, won the Best Independent Release of the Year Award (2002) from Acoustic Guitar magazine and music from the recording has been published in Japan’s Acoustic Guitar magazine and Mel Bay’s Master Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar, Vol. 3 (2005). His subsequent recordings, Indigo (2008), and Sphere: the Music of Thelonious Monk offer compelling portraits of classic jazz standards performed on solo electric archtop guitar. Sphere was named one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s “Essential Albums of 2011”, and Sean was featured on the Summer 2012 cover of Fingerstyle 360 magazine. His most recent solo guitar recordings include Thanksgiving & Christmas Tidings (2014), a collection of seasonal hymns and carols arranged for solo guitar, My Fair Lady (2015), a collection of songs from Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece, and Union Station (2021), a collection of original compositions for jazz organ trio. As a soloist, Sean has performed at several festivals including the Novi Sad International Jazz Festival in Serbia, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, Copper Mountain Guitar Town, the La Conner Guitar Festival, the Chet Atkins CAAS Convention, and the Artisan Guitar Show with Jimmy Bruno and Brent Mason. He has also collaborated with several dance and improv companies, as well as with jazz and acoustic musicians throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Sean is an avid arts educator and currently serves as Professor of Music and Chair of the Music & Entertainment Industry Studies department at the University of Colorado Denver, one of the largest contemporary music programs in the country. He earned a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and has conducted workshops at colleges and guitar organizations throughout the country. He has also presented and performed at the Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans, the International Symposium for the Performing Arts Medicine Association in Aspen, CO, and numerous College Music Society national and regional conferences. Sean is a strong advocate for injury prevention and health education for musicians, and his workshops incorporate a holistic approach to playing. He is also a contributing editor and educational advisor for Acoustic Guitar magazine, and the author of Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Solos and the Stringletter book/DVD instructional projects, The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist, Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials and Holiday Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar. Sean has also produced a dozen courses for, covering the topics of fingerstyle jazz, improvisation, and comping.

Jamie Stillway |

Jamie Stillway has been quietly making her mark on the acoustic guitar world for over 25 years. Hailed by Fretboard Journal as “one of the top fingerstyle guitarists of her generation,” Stillway is widely regarded as a master of her craft who plays like a woman with nothing to prove. She has released seven albums to widespread critical acclaim, including four solo albums of original compositions. Her album, City Static, was named by Paste magazine as one of the best albums of the year, and her most recent album, Lullaby for a Stranger was released in late 2022 on Portland’s Fluff and Gravy Records. She is a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine and the current co-host of their Acoustic Guitar podcast. She is one half of an esoteric flatpicking duo with guitarist Eric Skye, and has been an in-demand guitar instructor and composer for over 20 years, with her unique, minimalist compositions and elegant guitar style which have inspired players all over the globe.

Fingerstyle guitarist Mark Hanson received his Grammy Award in 2005 for his contributions to the Henry Mancini – Pink Guitar album. An engaging performer, he has concertized around the world and shared the stage with many guitar greats, including John Renbourn, Jerry Garcia, Tommy Emmanuel and many of the Swannanoa staff! His recordings are heard regularly on syndicated TV programs, including Martha Stewart Living and American Idol. Mark played for President Obama in San Francisco in 2009. As an author, Mark has written nearly 30 titles on playing guitar, including the best-selling Art of Contemporary Travis Picking. His Art of Solo Fingerpicking book/recording was included in the book 50 Greatest Guitar Books. He frequently performs with his wife, award-winning vocalist Greta Pedersen. Mark’s website is Mark’s professional goals have always been to share the joy of music and the guitar through performance and teaching.

Cory Seznec |

Somewhere between musical wanderer and uncertified ethnomusicologist dwells Cory Seznec and his unique world. Busking misadventures with Malian musicians in the Paris metro led him to Songhai songsters in Timbuktu and ancient omutibo guitarists in western Kenya. Feverish touring with the world-roots trio Groanbox gave him his sea-legs, but a three-year stint in Ethiopia cracked everything open. Seznec held a weekly gig in Mulatu Astatke’s jazz club while recording two albums with musicians in Addis and embarking on rugged field recording trips across the Ethiopian highlands. These experiences shaped Seznec into an artist who traces the through-line across musical cultures and whose songs let the past reverberate in the present. A French-American in Paris, Seznec’s fingerstyle guitar-playing is syncopated, polyrhythmic, cross-pollinated, and idiosyncratic. He also sings, plays old-time banjo, and wades in the deep river of American song. Seznec is currently at work on three projects—a solo album entitled Deep of Time; a collaboration with Senegalese musician Amadou Diagne called Touki; and a research project celebrating the life and music of Malawian musician Daniel Kachamba (1947-1987).

Cesar Garabini |

Originally from Minas Gerais, Brazil, Cesar Garabini is in demand internationally as a virtuoso 7-string guitarist. He especially loves choro, the historical precedent to samba and bossa nova. Choro emerged in Rio De Janeiro in the 1890s as an infectious mix of European classical music and African rhythms. Cesar is equally at home with samba, bossa nova, jazz and Portuguese fado. He has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Jazz Standard, Birdland, Columbia University, and the Herbst Theater. He has shared the stage with Leny Andrade, Marcos Sacramento, Badi Assad, Anat Cohen, Olli Soikkeli and Douglas Lora and has been featured on NPR, NBC and Global TV in Brazil. Cesar hosts a monthly Roda with the choro group Regional de New York and is on the faculty at Choro Camp New England.

Tony McManus |

To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement. To do so within a centuries-old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable. In little over ten years as a professional musician, Tony McManus came to be recognized throughout the world as a leading guitarist in Celtic music. In Tony’s hands, the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music. His 2002 recording, Ceol More, was Acoustic Guitar’s “Critic’s Album of the Year” and named “Album of the Year” by the Live Ireland Awards. He is a regular performer at the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, and has appeared at guitar festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun, France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabrueck, Germany and five of Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps in Maryville, TN. Born in Scotland with strong Irish roots, he now lives in Canada and travels the world performing in numerous combinations, including intimate solo performances and various duos with friends Alain Genty, Bruce Molsky, and Alasdair Fraser, to the quartet, Men of Steel, with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross.

Robin Bullock |

Ranked among the “100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists” by, Robin Bullock has been hailed as “one of the best folk instrumentalists in the business” by Sing Out! magazine, “breathtaking” by Guitar Player magazine and a “Celtic guitar god” by Baltimore City Paper. His honors include Editor’s Pick and Player’s Choice Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, KS and the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award. Robin maintains a busy international touring schedule, performing solo, with Guitar Week colleague Steve Baughman, and with four-time National Scottish Harp Champion Sue Richards. He’s also played several hundred concerts as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including four “Together At Last” tours with Tom’s fellow Grammy-winner Janis Ian. Robin’s discography of nearly two dozen solo, collaborative and group CDs includes the first volume of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin; The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations; and most recently, Helicon and Friends Live at the Winter Solstice Concert. An experienced and articulate instructor, Robin has taught workshops all over North America and now teaches guitar and mandolin anywhere in the world via Zoom and Skype. Now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain, Robin has been a staff instructor at every Swannanoa Gathering since 1996.

Christie Lenée |

Music Radar’s “Acoustic Guitarist of the Year”, singer/songwriter Christie Lenée has been described as ‘Michael Hedges meets Joni Mitchell and Dave Matthews,’ integrating melodic pop lyricism with catchy hooks and percussive, harmonic textures. Her captivating performances have shared stages with Tommy Emmanuel, Tim Reynolds (Dave Matthews Band), Andy McKee, Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), Melissa Etheridge, Antigone Rising, Kaki King, Jake Shimabukoro and Christopher Cross to name a few. Featured on the Grammy Museum’s virtual program streaming from Los Angeles, along with a variety of articles in Guitar Player magazine, Acoustic Guitar magazine, and a recent designation as one of the “Best Acoustic Guitarists in the World Right Now” (Guitar World magazine ), Christie continues to awe crowds with the unique essence of her music. Christie’s newly released album, Coming Alive, is a chronicle of joy and hope, of self -confidence and empowerment, of renewal and light. Coming Alive features a bevy of talented musicians, including co-producer Matthew Odmark (Jars of Clay) , drummer Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Toto, Sting, John Mayer, bassist Adam Nitti (Kenny Loggins, Carrie Underwood, Susan Tedeschi), and keyboardist Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay). Christie was recently featured in Go magazine, Americana Highways, Bluegrass Situation and Acoustic Guitar magazine. With an Official Showcase at AmericanaFest 2022 and a new album in hand, she’s ‘coming alive’ – right on time.

Danny Knicely |

Danny Knicely comes from a musical family steeped in a mountain music tradition for generations. He first learned music from his grandfather, who played dances and social events in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia as far back as the 1930s. Danny has shared his music and collaborated with musicians in over a dozen countries spanning four continents, including U.S. State Department tours in Tunisia, Morocco, Russia and Cabo Verde. He has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle and flat-foot dance expertise in local and national contests and has taught at some of the leading music camps in the U.S. including Augusta Heritage Center, Common Ground on the Hill, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Millwood Blues Week and Louis Jay Meyers Music Camp. Danny has performed with many of the greatest artists in bluegrass music including Vassar Clements, Mac Wiseman, Charlie Waller, Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, Curtis Burch, Russ Barenberg and Charles Sawtelle.

Mary Flower |

Mary Flower has been described by no less an authority than legendary Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen as “a national treasure in your own backyard.” Indeed, the internationally renowned, award-winning singer/guitarist/songwriter is a prodigious talent whose seasoned skills have established her as one of America’s foremost roots performers. Flower combines a deep historical knowledge with a restless creativity that keeps her music evolving into new creative territory while echoing influences from Piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, with additional stops at ragtime, swing, folk, and hot jazz. A midwest native, Flower relocated from Denver to the vibrant Portland music scene in 2004. Since then, she’s continued to impress crowds and critics at folk festivals in America and abroad, including Merlefest, Waterfront Blues Fest, King Biscuit, A Prairie Home Companion and the Vancouver Folk Festival, while maintaining a parallel career as a renowned guitar teacher. Mary has shared her guitar skills at over 25 guitar camps and is about to celebrate 10 years at her own guitar intensive near Portland, Oregon, Blues in the Gorge. Along the way, she’s twice been a finalist in the International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, as well as being nominated three times for the Blues Foundation’s prestigious Blues Music Award. Mary is a contributing writer for Acoustic Guitar magazine and has recorded several instructional DVDs for the Homespun label. 

Internationally acclaimed Toby Walker is an award-winning, roots music fingerstyle guitar virtuoso and songwriter who has toured the US, the United Kingdom, Canada and Europe. Blending the styles of blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, old-time jazz and rock, Walker has developed his own style and received numerous awards, including 1st Place at the International Blues Challenge Award in Memphis, and the NY Music Award for best instrumental CD. Walker has been inducted into the NY Blues Hall Of Fame, and is a nationally-recognized guitar instructor, having taught at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch, Woody Mann’s Guitar Seminars, The Swanannoa Gathering, the Big Jersey Guitar Camp and the Guitar Intensive in Maine. Walker also has eight instructional DVD’s on Happy Traum’s Homespun Music Instruction label and has produced hundreds of instructional videos for his own website. Toby’s passion for blues, rags, folk, and other traditional American music drove him to leave an apartment crammed full of recordings, books and instruments for the Mississippi Delta, Virginia and the Carolinas where he tracked down some of the more obscure, but immensely talented music makers of an earlier era. He learned directly from Eugene Powell, James “Son” Thomas, Etta Baker, and R.L Burnside, among others.

The Coordinator of Guitar Week, “Greg Ruby lives and breathes guitar” states the Fretboard Journal. From acoustic swing to jazz manouche to surf guitar, New York-based Ruby inhabits many musical forms and brings his compositional voice to each of them. On the forefront of the Django Reinhardt renaissance of the early 2000’s, Ruby co-founded the seminal group Hot Club Sandwich and later joined Seattle’s Pearl Django. His rock-solid rhythm guitar work propelled the group through multiple recordings and extensive touring – including their debut at the Festival Django Reinhardt in Samois-sur-seine, France. Ruby has performed with jazz guitar luminaries Howard Alden, Patrick Saussois, Frank Vignola, Gonzalo Bergara and John Jorgensen and by 2010, Greg stepped out on his own and released Look Both Ways, an album of all original compositions which Dan Hicks (of the Hot Licks) declared “is a soundtrack in search of a movie.” The album reached #1 on the Roots Music Review radio chart. In 2015, Greg’s attention turned to the roots of jazz in the Pacific Northwest with Syncopated Classic – a project which unearthed, restored and recorded the lost compositions of 1920’s Seattle jazz pioneer Frank D. Waldron. The resulting record was awarded Earshot Jazz magazine’s “Northwest Jazz Recording of the Year.” His most recent album, Corner Café, was co-written with accordionist Steve Rice and evokes the sound of mid-century Parisian swing bands. Ruby has taught at Django in June, DjangoFest, NW, the Seattle Jazz Night School and Millwood Blues Week. He authored the Pearl Django Play-Along Book Vol.1 (2005), Frank D. Waldron: Seattle’s Syncopated Classic (2018), the Oscar Alemán Play-Along Songbook Vol. 1 (2019) and is a contributing writer for Acoustic Guitar magazine. Greg moved to New York City just months before the city shuttered due to COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, he took the A Train south to Rockaway Beach, where he now lives, surfs, and lives a creative life composing, recording and giving online and private lessons.

Lisa Liu is a Brooklyn-based guitarist who plays jazz, folk, rock and solo guitar. Liu is an Artist Ambassador for Santa Cruz Guitar, Sadowsky Guitars and Krivo Pickups. Liu has performed at Birdland Jazz Club and on Broadway in Six, The Musical. She has been featured in Acoustic Guitar magazine and has taught alongside Martin Taylor and John Knowles, CGP. She loves ocean swimming and tacos.

Ed was the lead guitarist and singer for Wood & Steel, a bluegrass band based in the Piedmont region of North Carolina that featured the legendary Snuffy Smith on banjo and The Dukes of Drive’s Joey Lemons on mandolin. Bluegrass Unlimited called their 2007 release, Poor Boy, “a masterpiece of hard-driving bluegrass.” Tony Rice calls their music, “Bluegrass, in one of its most pure, unfiltered forms; played by good musicians.” Wood & Steel’s music was featured nationally in Home & Garden Television’s 2002 special, Barns Revisited, and Ed has recorded three albums with mandolin player/builder Skip Kelley, including their 2010 release, Hopped That Train and…Gone. In 2022, he released an all electric album with the Asheville-based band, Catz in Pajamas. Ed is an accomplished songwriter, and a powerful rhythm and lead player with a deep abiding love of traditional music.