11/16/2014, Guitar Mash @ City Winery, New York, NY

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GUITAR MASH Is a movement. From metal shredders to acoustic aficionados, Guitar Mash uses live events and social media to create opportunities for amateur and professional guitarists to play together.

Guitar Mash was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating opportunities for people to be actively involved in ...

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Ryan Dawes

The Band in the Audience: How Guitar Mash Reconnects People with their Inner Music Makers, Six Strings at a Time

The Third Annual Guitar Mash Benefit Concert + Jam + Auction
Music Director Mark Stewart | Artist Chairs Tom Colicchio + Chad Smith
Featuring David Bromberg | Chris Eldridge | Valerie June | Robert Randolph | Duke Robillard | Scott Sharrard | Nano Stern | Quinn Sullivan

Event Sponsor C. F. Martin | Media Sponsors Relix | WFUV | Teen Acoustic Guitrar Project Sponsor The D'Addario Foundation


Guitar Mash has watched professional women who haven’t played for years dust off their old Martins and dig in. They’ve gotten kids from different boroughs and backgrounds jamming together. They’ve hosted celebrity chefs, film stars, and musical heavyweights, and urged them to sit together in the same circles, with players young and old, experienced and newbie all strumming together.

The goal of the New York based non-profit organization is to return music to its social, participatory roots, where everyone can dive into the shared experience via one instrument that rewards the player nearly instantly. “It’s such a friendly instrument,” marvels Mark Stewart, Guitar Mash Musical Director and lead guitarist/music director for Paul Simon. “One guitar and you can have a dance party.  Ten guitars and it’s a mob of jangly beauty.”

“The goal is to turn ‘me’ into ‘we,’” reflects Guitar Mash founder Rebecca Weller. “This can be nerve-wracking, even for seasoned professional players, but it’s always an interesting -- often transformative -- experience.”

Chef Tom Colicchio, who keeps a guitar in nearly every room at home but rarely played publicly before Guitar Mash, agrees: “Guitar Mash got me over my shyness playing with other people.”

The “we” will come together to support Guitar Mash’s efforts as well as help fund other music education programs on November 16, 2014 at City Winery NYC (155 Varick Street). 

A massive play-along sing-along will be led by eight guitar heroes supported by Guitar Mash musical director Mark Stewart and a stellar house band. Among the special guests will be Punch Brother Chris "Critter" Eldridge, country blues maven Valerie June, Chilean folk-rock phenomenon Nano Stern, “Godfather of Americana” David Bromberg, blues guitar master Duke Robillard, Greg Allman's secret weapon Scott Sharrard, and guitar whiz kid Quinn Sullivan. And for the first time, pedal steel will lead a Mash, thanks to legend Robert Randolph, named one of the 100 best guitarist by Rolling Stone for his "chilling," "lightning-fast explorations."

The full line-up of featured artists will be announced October 15, 2014. Past participants include Nels Cline (Wilco), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Larry Campbell, Kaki King, and Vernon Reid, among others. In addition, a special artist will be Skyped in so the audience can play along virtually. Last year, Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen led City Winery’s audience virtually, live from his Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio.

The afternoon’s musical nourishment will be accompanied by a festive brunch, with a silent auction raising additional funds for Church Street School for Music and Art, Little Kids Rock, and Guitar Mash’s own teen programming.

The event will also be live streamed online, with tabs and charts available for those wanting to play along from home. More details will be available at guitarmash.org.

Guitar Mash Benefit Concert + Jam
City Winery NYC (155 Varick Street)
November 16, 2014; 12-3:30 PM
Tickets: $50-$250

Guitar Mash is a production of Musiquarium, a 501(c)(3).

{full story below}

“Music is intrinsically social, but that’s so rarely the focus when you’re learning it,” remarks Weller. “You can get weary of your instrument if you’re playing it alone in a room, or only with a teacher once a week.  I wanted to create a musical community, using a portable, versatile, democratic tool… the guitar.”

A dynamic advocate for participatory arts experiences—one of her best-loved past projects is Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center—and a classically trained pianist, Weller saw a way to relieve the isolation that sometimes accompanies music-making. Guitar Mash helps people rediscover the thrill of making music by rethinking the age-old gatherings that brought players together for generations. At Urban Campfire Jams (sometimes huddled around a festively crackling iPad) and other events, Mashers can unite and play favorite tunes, be it a Pete Seeger gem or a Bob Marley hit, a wild version of “Crazy Train” or a South American ballad.

The process of selecting the right tune is careful and deliberate, but designed to be inclusive and fun. Stewart meets with each leader; it could be Wilco’s Nels Cline or the Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, or a group of school kids getting on stage with their guitars for the first time. Together, they talk through the possibilities until they find the right song, which is then transcribed, rehearsed with the house band, with the charts made available to participants in the Mash.

At the same time, there’s plenty of room for the freewheeling spontaneity of a good jam. Cline, for instance, wanted to get Mashers to create a soundscape. He urged the band to keep vamping, while he got off stage and merged with the audience. It’s a common thing for a jam leader to try something new, to pick up a bottle and play his instrument with it, to push people just a hair outside their comfort zones.

“To learn to relax in participation is about more than knowing your music,” Weller reflects. “It’s about feeling comfortable to take risks, about knowing that the person next to you isn’t judging but playing with you and enjoying herself as much as you are.”

The organization has grown organically with the act of participation itself, with many on Guitar Mash’s Council having signed up for this deeper involvement immediately after their first jam. Benefit Co-Chair Jesse Guglielmo has played in many bands and is an avid supporter of music education initiatives. He had such a great time at the 2013 Urban Campfire Jam, he jumped on board the organization five days later—and wound up finding a new singer for his long-time band thanks to connections he made there. “The beauty of music is creating a sincere connection with passionate people who have a deep relationship to what they are playing,” remarks Guglielmo.

Participation’s joys prove particularly infectious to teens. Guitar Mash’s Teen Council has instigated “Mash Mobs,” played at jams, and developed their own projects. This year, teen Mashers will pass a guitar from player to player for eight weeks, with each player getting a week to use the guitar, her voice, and a digital recorder to contribute a song. Participants include guitar wunderkind Brandon Niederauer, who recently blew listeners away at Summerstage playing with Gary Clark, Jr. The songs will be premiered at a listening station at the November event.

Mash Teen Council Co-Chair Ryan Maeglin, an avid strummer whose musical interests and pursuits range from funk to jazz to classic rock, will be among the participants in the Teen Acoustic Guitar Project.  Maeglin notes that “Music can form a community like nothing else can.”

Guitar Mash has worked since its inception with a variety of youth-centered arts education organizations, among them the Lower East Side Girls Club, while providing opportunities for musicians of all generations to play together. The seeds of Guitar Mash grew from a jam to benefit the non-profit Church Street School of Music and Art, and a portion of the proceeds from November 16th will go toward that school’s scholarship programs. Proceeds from the event will also help support the efforts of Little Kids Rock, which brings instruments, teachers, and curriculum to students in underserved schools.

“What’s the best way to encourage people to play music?” asks Stewart with a smile. “To play music yourself.”

The next step in getting people to play more music themselves: A jam leader toolkit, aimed to empower and energize new Mashers to take the music to their communities. “Our goal is to do more than respond to demand for events that get people together to play,” Weller says. “We want to teach people how to make this happen on their own, all over the world.”

Food / Drink Donors Acme Smoked Fish | Adrian Chalk Selections | Brooklyn Roasting Company | City Bakery | Dancing Ewe | Fresh Direct | Hubert's Lemonade | Lagunitas Brewing Comapny | Maslow 6 | Mcclure's Pickles | Rick's Picks | Stinky Bkyln | Tito's Handmade Vodka | Vosges Chocolates | Zucker's Bagels

Auction Donors Anthony Brand | Bohemian Guitars | Cordoba Guitars | Guitar Center | C. F. Martin | D'Addario | Dean Rubenstein | Rock Paper Photo | Taylors Guitars | Tom Colicchio & Chad Smith | Tom Kitt | The Ice Plant | Vinyl Me, Please

More about the City Winery Benefit:

The charts and lyrics of each guest’s featured songs will be shared with audience members one week prior to the event. These charts will also be projected on screens flanking the stage, for easy follow-along.

Complementing the music will be a brunch spread provided by local purveyors, among them Brooklyn’s own Stinky Cheese; Dancing Ewe Farms; City Bakery; Zucker’s Bagels; and Vosges Chocolates, with beer by Lagunitas and Bloody Mary’s courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Relix. Guitarists can experience an extra dose of fun in The Play Room, where displays of vintage guitars will mingle with interactive exhibits. An auction of carefully curated instruments and experiences will include a Martin D-28, courtesy of Guitar Mash acoustic guitar sponsor C.F. Martin.

Dispatch Details

Concert Start Time:
12:00 PM
Venue St. Address:
155 Varick Street
Guitar Mash @ City Winery
Venue City, State:
New York, NY
Venue Zip:
Ticket Price(s):
$50 - $250
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Ticket Phone:
Venue Link: