Former Tonight Show Band Leader Kevin Eubanks Headlining Guitar Festival

Former Tonight Show Band Leader Kevin Eubanks Headlining Guitar FestivalFormer music director of The Tonight Show Band and modern-day jazz prophet Kevin Eubanks will headline a celebration of the greatest guitarists of today and tomorrow at the fifth annual Wilson Center Guitar Festival (Festival) on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts (Wilson Center).

A prolific guitarist and composer, Eubanks cranked up the band and issued steamy solos as on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he played with seemingly every meaningful musician across genres for five nights a week. In spring of 2010, after 18 years on the job, the Philadelphia native opened a new chapter as a recording and touring artist with the release of his first album for the Mack Avenue label, Zen Food, followed by the 2013 release of his second album, The Messenger. In 2015, he teamed up with fellow modern-day jazz prophet Stanley Jordan to record an album of originals and originally drawn covers, Duets, and in April of this year, he released East West Time Line (Mack Avenue Records).

In addition to his ticketed concert, Eubanks will also serve as a judge of the Festival's final competition rounds in the Jazz genre and offer a Jazz master class that will be free and open to the public on Saturday, Aug 19, 2017, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Space in the master class is limited and advance registration is encouraged at www.wilson-center.com/event-registration.

The three-day Festival will also feature performances from the renowned classical ensemble Beijing Guitar Duo on Thursday, Aug 17, at 7:30 p.m. and fingerstyle gurus Antoine Dufour and Mike Dawes as part of CandyRat Records Fingerstyle Friday on Friday, Aug 18, at 7:30 p.m. Festival headliner tickets range from $30-$44 for the Beijing Guitar Duo, $36-$49 for Dufour and Dawes, and $50-$71 for Eubanks. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.wcguitarfest.com; in person at the Wilson Center, which is located at 19805 W. Capitol Drive in Brookfield's Mitchell Park; or by phone through the Wilson Center Box Office at 262-781-9520.

In addition to the ticketed headliner evening concerts, the Festival offers something for music lovers of all ages and all activities are open to the public, including: live semi-final and final competition rounds in four different genres of Classical, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Rock & Blues, featuring 76 competitors from 19 different countries competing for their share of $32,000 in cash prizes and the chance to open for Eubanks at the Festival; master classes in all four genres led by some of today's best guitarists; a Les Paul presentation; a vendor hall filled with the latest and greatest in guitar gear; a premiere of the documentary film Acoustic Uprising; an exhibit of rare guitars from The Eisner Guitar Collection; a guitar yoga class; an instrument petting zoo; and more. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.wilson-center.com/2017-guitar-festival-schedule.

The 2017 Wilson Center Guitar Festival is made possible by the support of Festival Sponsors Jackie and Michael Barber, Krause Funeral Homes and Cremation Service, The Les Paul Foundation, Marcus Corporation Foundation, John Shiely, Vince Shiely, and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Beta Alpha Boule; Competition Prize Money Sponsor Mark and Sharon Cameli in memory of John Cameli; Education Sponsors First Bank Financial Centre and Hammett, Bellin & Oswald LLC Attorneys at Law; Classical Master Class Sponsor Lynn Chappy; and Festival Partners CandyRat Records, Cascio Interstate Music, Discovery World, Girl Guitar Austin, Girls Rock Milwaukee, Urban Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Public Radio. For more information on the 2017 Wilson Center Guitar Festival, visit www.wcguitarfest.com. (Kevin Eubanks photo included with press release by Raj Naik. Images and complete bios of 2017 Wilson Center Guitar Festival headliner artists available upon request.)

ABOUT THE WILSON CENTER GUITAR FESTIVAL ARTISTS

Composed of guitarist Meng Su and Yameng Wang, the Beijing Guitar Duo has performed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. This past season took them to countries such as Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, China, Panama, and the United States. The Beijing Guitar Duo's performances and recordings have impressed the public with an ability and artistry that exceeds their years. Their debut CD, Maracaípe, received a Latin Grammy nomination for the title piece, which was dedicated to them by renowned guitarist/composer Sergio Assad. Their second CD, Bach to Tan Dun, has been widely noted for the world-premiere recording of Tan Dun's Eight Memories in Watercolor, specially arranged for the duo by Manuel Barrueco. A recording in trio with Maestro Barrueco, China West, was released in May 2014.

Meng Su and Yameng Wang were born in the coastal city of Qingdao, China. They came to the partnership with exceptional credentials, including a string of competition awards. Ms. Su's honors include victories at the Vienna Youth Guitar Competition and the Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition, while Ms. Wang was the youngest guitarist to win the Tokyo International Guitar Competition at the age of 12 and was invited by Radio France to perform at the prestigious Paris International Guitar Art Week at age 14. In addition to concertizing, the members of the duo share a love for teaching, which brings them to major conservatories in the world for master classes and to judge competitions. Since 2011, they have been artists-in-residence for the San Francisco Performances.

The Beijing Guitar Duo is proudly supported by the Maryland State Art Council's Touring Artists Grant program since 2014. The acclaimed solo music of Mike Dawes has gained more than 15 million hits on popular video-sharing sites, and since the release of his debut album in 2013, he has toured almost every continent on the planet, with an average of 150 concerts per year. Dawes has recorded with and taught multiple Grammy-winning artists, appeared on film and TV soundtracks, released apps, written for the world's best-selling music magazines and, in addition to his solo work, currently performs alongside and in support of the legendary front man of The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward, the debut live DVD of which entered the US Billboard charts at #2. In June 2012, Dawes released his first solo instrumental through the US label, CandyRat Records. His incredibly detailed arrangement of Gotye's smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" smashed through 1.5 million views in just one day online on YouTube.

Antoine Dufour is a 34-year-old Montreal-based guitarist who is known colloquially among the best guitar players in the world as a musician's musician. To fans of popular music, he deftly combines jaw-dropping guitar playing skills and an artistic soul in crafting instrumental compositions that reflect ambient and progressive music that transcends global cultures and languages. Via his six albums, two live performance DVDs, six years of global touring, and more than 50 million cumulative views on YouTube, Antoine Dufour has emerged as a young star of fingerstyle acoustic guitar, building a worldwide reputation for innovation and creativity. Dufour has won first place at the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championships and third place at the ultra-prestigious international guitar championships at Winfield. He records for the leading instrumental music record label CandyRat, plus tours and plays with luminary guitar players such as Andy McKee and Don Ross.

Kevin Eubanks, guitarist and prolific composer, is well known by many as the former Music Director of The Tonight Show Band, appearing on the show for 18 years (1992-2010). His laid-back style and affability seems to belie the concentration and focus that have made him successful both as a consummate musician and a household name for late-night TV viewers. Kevin was born into a musical household in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was thus exposed to world-class music in his formative years as he began violin lessons, his first instrument, at age seven. Kevin also studied the trumpet before making his commitment to the guitar. He attended the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston from which he has received an Honorary Doctorate degree. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Redlands University in California. Kevin moved to New York after attending Berklee College of Music where his career kicked off in earnest. He started playing with some of the greats of jazz, including Art Blakey, Slide Hampton, McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, and others. In addition to working in other bands, Kevin become the leader of his own group and traveled to Jordan, Pakistan, India, and Kuwait on tours sponsored by the US State Department, not to mention the European/Japanese jazz circuit, which so many artists frequent. His first album as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Kevin was 25. It documented a sophisticated, nuanced voice on the instrument and was graced by the presence of some peers who are still performing with him today: tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore, (Tonight Show Band member) and Kevin's brother Robin. Kevin's cousins, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks, also appeared on the recording, which was so well received that it led to a seven-record recording contract with the GRP label, owned by Dave Grusin and the late Larry Rosen.

Those recordings, based largely upon Kevin's compositions, gained him a wide audience through extensive radio airplay and touring. It showed the range of his skill on both acoustic and electric guitar. Kevin became a full-time bandleader and traveled the world with his group. In 1992, Kevin moved to the West Coast to join The Tonight Show Band. In 1995, Kevin was asked to lead the band. His versatility and open-minded approach enabled him to write and choose music that satisfied the huge and varied audience for the show. He assumed the role as Leno's sidekick, sometimes participating in skits, and his engaging personality, as well as his musicianship, drew attention. The position afforded Kevin the opportunity to work with great and popular musicians from all genres. Kevin became involved in writing scores for both TV movies and full-length independent feature films.

He has appeared on various TV shows/channels, from Hollywood Squares to V.I.P to Girlfriends, Days of Our Lives, Royal Pains, HGTV, Oprah's OWN, and The History Channel, to name a few. But his passion, the love of music, is clearly seen when he is on stage performing. A strong advocate for music education, Kevin served as the Artistic Director of the Jazz In The Classroom Program for The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from 2010-2012, where he worked with young up-and-coming middle and high school musicians in Los Angeles public schools.

He also hosted the 2013 NEA Foundation Gala. He has taught at the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy, as well as hosting master classes at many colleges and universities. In November 2010, Kevin released the CD Zen Food (Mack Avenue Records) that debuted in the Top Five on the Billboard Jazz Chart and was Kevin's fastest-selling record ever. In February 2013, his CD The Messenger (Mack Avenue Records) was released, garnering a 2014 NAACP Image Award nomination for "Outstanding Jazz Album." That same year, he toured extensively as a member of Dave Holland's PRISM. In March 2015, the acclaimed Duets (Mack Avenue Records), with fellow guitarist Stanley Jordan, was released to rave reviews and concert performances. Kevin's highly-anticipated CD, East West Time Line, was released in April 2017 (Mack Avenue Records). In addition to club/concert touring, Kevin presents at conferences around the country not only as a musician, but also as a motivational speaker to people of all ages.

ABOUT THE SHARON LYNNE WILSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts is one of the finest multi-disciplinary cultural arts centers in the United States, with a mission to be the catalyst for lifelong discovery and exploration of the Arts. Founded in 2002, the Wilson Center presents performances by world-renowned artists and ensembles; offers arts education opportunities; curates the Ploch Art Gallery, which features both national and Wisconsin-based fine artists; and is committed to extending the arts beyond the walls of the Center through Lynn Chappy ArtsPark-a vibrant, outdoor sculpture landscape that will engage and inspire the broader Southeast Wisconsin Community. In August, the annual Wilson Center Guitar Competition & Festival celebrates the world's leading classical, rock/blues, jazz, and fingerstyle guitarists. The Wilson Center nurtures lifelong learning through innovative programs and classes for all interests, ages, and abilities in state-of-the-art studios and classrooms. Some of Southeast Wisconsin's finest arts organizations offer professional instruction at the Wilson Center, including First Stage Theater Academy, Trinity Irish Dancers, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. From performances and recitals to meetings and special events, the Wilson Center's beautiful spaces are available for rental to individuals, schools, organizations, and corporations throughout the community. To learn more, visit www.wilson-center.com.

ABOUT THE WILSON CENTER GUITAR FESTIVAL Established in 2013, it is the goal of the Wilson Center Guitar Festival to celebrate the greatest guitarists of today and tomorrow. As the only guitar festival in the world to feature four different genres-Classical, Fingerstyle, Jazz, and Rock & Blues-the three-day weekend is filled with activities for music lovers of all ages. In addition to ticketed headliner evening concerts, all daytime activities are open to the public, including: semi-final and final competition rounds, master classes, leading industry vendors, and more. For information, visit www.wcguitarfest.com.


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