Guitarist of the Year finalists announced

20th May 2011 | 10:27

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
Guitarist of the Year finalists announced

Five finalists have been selected from thousands of hopefuls to compete for the highly coveted accolade of Guitarist Of The Year 2011 in association with Vigier Guitars.

The finalists are: Conrad Harpham, James Peach, Nick Andrew, Rick Graham and Steve Kelly. The five will compete in the live finals held at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, as part of the London Guitar Festival 2011 at the Southbank Centre, SE1.

The winner on the day will walk away with a choice of a Vigier Excalibur Ultra or a Vigier GV Wood model. Both guitars are worth £2,499. In addition, the winner will receive a contract to perform or teach at IGF Festivals in 2012. Most important of all, they will be crowned Guitarist magazine’s Guitarist Of The Year 2011.

Previous winners have gone on to great success, including Dave Kilminster, the first ever winner in 1991, who is currently mid-tour with Roger Waters on his incredible The Wall Live shows. We expect this year to be no exception in terms of talent. Come and cheer for your favourite - entry is just £3.

Click onwards for more information and to meet the finalists...

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
Steve Kelly

Name: Steve Kelly
Track entered: Tabatha
Current main guitar: Squier Esprit

Inspired to pick up the guitar by the dirty blues of ZZ Top, Steve - known as Stevie K to his mates – also counts blues maestros Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robben Ford as major influences. He also has major respect for the hard, funk-influenced rock playing of Tom Morello. Steve teaches guitar and keeps himself busy pursuing sessions, songwriting, producing and being in a band. He says that winning Guitarist of the Year would “mean a lot” and be a fantastic reward for his devotion to the instrument.

Random fact: He has been known to bake ginger biscuits in the small hours of the night.

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
Conrad Harpham

Name: Conrad Harpham
Track entered: Dr. Thompson's Casebook
Current main guitar: Framus Diablo Custom

Conrad has been tearing it up on the guitar for two decades, after being encouraged to start playing by his brother. A music teacher who also performs with a semi-pro soul band, Conrad names Joe Satriani, Albert Lee and Reb Beach as his guitar heroes – while bands like Dokken and Winger get plenty of airplay in his house. Winning Guitarist of the Year would be “the realisation of a 20-year ambition” Conrad says, adding that he’s wanted to make the final ever since taking up the guitar.

Random fact: He lives in the same town as 2003 champ Jas Morris – they’re good buddies!

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
James Peach

Name: James Peach
Track entered: Now or Never
Current main guitar: Maverick Matrix

For James, it was the fretboard mastery of Nuno Bettencourt that first inspired him to learn to burn on the guitar. A self-confessed technique-freak, he worked slavishly from the age of 15 to emulate the speed, passion and intensity of players like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert. More recently, he’s become a big fan ex-GotY winner Guthrie Govan. Earning the title of Guitarist of the Year would be a proud achievement, he says, adding that he believes there are “only two types of music: good and bad”.

Random fact: Before he set his sights on being a top-flight guitarist, James’s ambition was to be the first Brit to win the Tour de France.

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
Nick Andrew

Name: Nick Andrew
Track entered: L’amour D’hier
Current main guitar: Modified Ibanez RG 550

Like many a rocker, it was a Maiden track that first got Nick into playing guitar. “I was miming along to Wrathchild on a mate’s guitar and I accidentally played the right chord at the right time,” he recalls. “I worked out the rest of the song by ear and I’ve never put down a guitar since!” Nick’s love of the guitar has grown over time and today he counts Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth and Paco de Lucia among his all-time favourite players. He’d love to take the title but admits he’d be thrilled simply to “get a wee mention in Guitarist”.

Random fact: He says he lives in a car (!)

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
Rick Graham

Name: Rick Graham
Track entered: Thin Ice
Current main guitar: Suhr Custom Modern

Guitar wasn’t Rick’s first choice when he started out in music, he admits: “I wanted to be a drummer but realised I couldn't afford a kit!” he jokes. But after he picking up an axe for the first time, he quickly became hooked and has been “obsessed ever since”. Like most of our finalists, he is inspired by Joe Satriani’s supreme virtuosity and also by the music of Wayne Krantz. He’s currently working on his second solo album and says that “the more people that I can communicate with through my music, the better.”

Random fact: Rick loves wine, particularly French wine, and he is almost as passionate about it as he is about playing the guitar.

Guitarist of the Year finalists announced
More information

More info & ticket booking:


More on The London Guitar Festival

PLUS! The evening of Saturday 4thJune will feature Incredible evening performances by Jack Bruce & His Big Blues Band!

One of the greatest bass players of all time, Cream frontman Jack Bruce assembles a select group of musicians for a night of incredible blues, including very special guest, Joe Bonamassa.

Tickets & further info

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