Amateur impresario Rick Kreiser is hoping all of his friends -- even the ones he doesn't actually know -- will attend the 2013-14 Guitar Masters concert series, which opens April 25.
British jazz guitarist Martin Taylor kicks off the series of four concerts at a new location -- Studio A of American Sound Recording Studios, 2231 R St. in downtown Bakersfield. The concerts are normally held at The Bell Tower Club on Truxtun Avenue.
"I love The Bell Tower Club -- it's great for larger events," Kreiser said. "Studio A was chosen in part for the logistics -- the sound was already set up."
Taylor first gained fame in the 1980s performing with violinist Stephane Grapelli in the same role as legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, one of Taylor's musical heroes. Forced to go solo after Grapelli suffered a heart attack, Taylor eventually founded his own group, Spirit of Django, in the mid-1990s, while maintaining a solo career. In addition to Grapelli, Martin has performed and recorded with Jeff Beck, Dianne Schuur, Bryn Terfel, Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, Gary Burton and many others. He was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "services to jazz music," by Queen Elizabeth II, and has been named by Acoustic Guitar magazine as "THE acoustic guitarist of his generation."
Kreiser said the three remaining concerts will feature returning performers. Frank Vignola with Vinny Raniolo will perform on June 13, Peppino D'Agostino on Sept. 19, and Laurence Juber on Oct. 24.
"I bring them back because, first of all, they're very nice guys," Kreiser said.
"I like to bring really world-class artists who, while they have their fans, they're not household names," Kreiser said.
Like Taylor, all the performers enjoy sterling musical reputations and have left their mark on the guitar world. Vignola has had a solid career as a sideman for performers ranging from Madonna to Ringo Starr, released several albums on the Concord Jazz label and on his own label, and is also a well-respected guitar teacher. D'Agostino is respected in his native Italy as well as in the United States, as a jazz guitarist, composer and teacher. Juber, also from Great Britain, was a respected studio musician who got his biggest break (and first Grammy Award) performing with Paul McCartney and Wings.
Kreiser said tickets should be reserved by calling him at 204-7685.
"It's more like a house concert," Kreiser said. "It's not about big guarantees; it's about people enjoying the music."