German guitarist Lulo Reinhardt is hosting this year’s International Guitar Night concert. (Photo courtesy Elke and Norbert Schikowski)

German guitarist Lulo Reinhardt is hosting this year’s International Guitar Night concert. (Photo courtesy Elke and Norbert Schikowski)

International Guitar Night brings diverse global sounds to Nanaimo

Guitarists from North America, Europe, Asia to perform at the Port Theatre

After taking a year off due to COVID-19, an international travelling guitar showcase is returning to Nanaimo.

On Jan. 30, International Guitar Night comes to the Port Theatre as part of the venue’s Spotlight Series.

This year’s show features Vietnamese classical guitarist Thu Le, Hawaiian slack-key guitarist and longtime “Weird Al” Yankovic sideman Jim (Kimo) West and Italian guitarist Luca Stricagnoli, known for playing a custom three-necked guitar. Hosting the show is German guitarist Lulo Reinhardt, grand-nephew of renowned Gypsy jazz guitarist Djando Reinhardt, who plays Gypsy swing music with Latin and African influences.

Reinhardt said COVID-19 lockdowns have been hard on musicians in Germany and being able to finally tour again feels like performing for the first time.

“I feel like I was 12 years old,” he said. “When I was 12 I went onstage for the first time with the family band. It’s kind of the same feeling going out and I’m so happy to see the audience now, even with masks.”

During the show the guitarists play solo and then as duos and a quartet. Reinhardt said in some cases the musicians are meeting each other for the first time at the start of the tour and don’t get to practise together before the show.

“We send songs by e-mail and we check the songs we practise the songs and when you meet you need to trust yourself, you need to have a good ear…” he said. “It sounds harder, but it’s not so hard.”

Stricagnoli is returning for his third tour. He said besides the pleasure of performing, he enjoys learning from the other guitarists. He said “everybody can do something the others cannot do.”

“When do you have a chance to spend two months with some of the best guitar players in the world?” he asked. “Actually just yesterday we were driving for like seven hours in Alaska in the snow and the ice with very little fuel and I was asking Lulo to give me some lessons of his techniques.”

Stricagnoli said he’s had tours cancelled in China, Russia, the United States and United Kingdom. He started hitting the road again in September, but “when we started thinking everything is going back to normal, then there’s the new wave and there’s Omicron.”

“Some venues during this tour are still unsure exactly what is going to happen,” he said. “So it’s one of the most thrilling International Guitar Nights for many reasons.”

WHAT’S ON … International Guitar Night at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $40 for adults, $35 for members, $15 for students with valid ID, available here. Pre-show chat at 6:45 p.m. in the Harmac Room.

RELATED: International Guitar Night comes to Nanaimo’s Port Theatre this week

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