Guitar Superstar 2010 Official Rules
Guitar Player magazine's 2010 Guitar Superstar competition is open to electric and acoustic guitar players of all styles. Entries are limited to players living in the domestic United States who are at least 18 years of age. Submission deadline is June 30th, 2010.

Video Submissions
All entries must be videos of a guitarist performing an original instrumental work no more than five minutes long. No covers. No singing. No 20-minute prog-rock epics. Both solo and full-band performances are permitted. All video submissions become the property of Guitar Player magazine.

People’s Choice Finalist
This year, the GP staff will select nine finalists. The tenth contender will be chosen by the public vote. The video that logs the highest number of votes before the entry period closes on June 30th, 2010 at 12:59 pm will win that player a spot in the competition.

Submission Deadline
June 30th, 2010. The ten finalists will be notified on July 15, 2010. All entrants will be notified of their status via e-mail by July 30, 2010.

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Guitar Superstar: An Interview with Steve Senes, Guitar Player Magazine’s Guitar Player of 2009
As we discovered in the last issue, Murrells Inlet’s resident guitar laureate Steve Senes bested nine other of the best guitarists on the planet to take the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine’s “Guitar Superstar: Guitar Player of 2009” title in San Francisco, CA, on Sept. 12, 2009.

Hot off the big win, Steve flew back home and began sorting through the hectic and fruitful week, and began making plans for taking his good fortune to the next level - which, as any guitarist worth his chops will tell you, is to be signed by a major recording label. But before that happens, this very accessible and extremely down-to-earth young man took the time to grant me an interview.

Howle: So, tell me … how did this long, winding musical road begin for Steve Senes?

Senes: Well, it’s because I have the coolest parents in the whole world … they took my sister and me to see KISS in concert back in ‘77 … and that was my very first concert … and that was it, man! I fell in love with the band and music in general, and rock and roll in particular. My folks bought me a little acoustic and I just beat the hell out of it the first day, you know? (Laughs)

So then when I was 9 or 10, I started taking guitar lessons from a guy, but didn’t really stick with it at the time. But when I was about 15, my friend and I were walking thru our neighborhood - him with a bass, me with my acoustic, like we’re badasses, you know? And this guy sees us walking by and says, “Hey, come over here and let me show you how to play that thing!” Turned out he had a Fender amp and Stratocaster … he taught me a bar chord, and then a major scale, and I was off and running. I got my first electric guitar and amp not long after that, and it’s all been downhill from there! (Both laugh) Everyone gets exposed to music in a different way, but I think it was this guy showing me how to play rock & roll. [Read More...]
Guitar Player LIVE! 2009
It has been 40 years since the Altamont Rock Festival took place in the hills east of Livermore, California, but the rock spirit descended here once again last weekend as Guitar Player Live! invaded this city of 78,000 on September 11-13. The performances started Friday night and continued on through Sunday, with dozens of bands playing on four stages in the downtown area, and numerous manufacturers—including DigiTech, Mesa/Boogie, Taylor, and the event’s co-sponsor, Voyage-Aire Guitars showing their wares to the throngs of music fans who showed up for the fun. Sadly the Rolling Stones couldn’t make it this time, but Friday night’s concert at the spankin’ new Bankhead Theater featured ripping performances by Michael Lee Firkins, Chris Duarte, and Richie Kotzen. Jason Becker (Cacophony, David Lee Roth) also appeared on stage to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from GP. Though paralyzed by ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Jason delivered a moving speech to the packed house that was read by his father Gary.

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The Blissful Anxiety of Guitar Player LIVE!
Why would a publishing company, in a season of economic unrest, do something as risky as launching a weekend guitar festival in a Bay Area suburb?

After all, many people are still carefully managing their beaten-down entertainment budgets, so attendance projections can be worrisome and iffy. It didn’t help that limited, third- and fourth-quarter cash resources made it difficult to promote the event through massive regional advertising. We also had to ask ourselves whether newspapers and radio stations would be effective ad buys to reach guitarists and guitar-music fans. How much could we depend on e-mail alerts to our core readers? Would our initial forays into social networking deliver enough community outreach to seduce guitar fanatics into trekking to the big show?

Then, we had to worry about whether the weekend traffic would be enough to satisfy the manufacturers who had secured booth space to sell and promote their gear in the “expo tent.” We worried whether the audiences would be big enough to impress the guitar stars we had asked to perform—for little or no compensation—at the weekend’s free and paid concerts, or share their knowledge and experience at a series of free clinics. Would the host city love us or despise us during and after the event? Would we make money (hooray!), or lose money at a time when losing money can be a deadly proposition?

And these are just the MAJOR concerns facing GUITAR PLAYER when it committed itself to producing GUITAR PLAYER LIVE! in Livermore, California, on September 11, 12, and 13, 2009. Hundreds of administrative and logistical goblins dropped themselves onto the planning table, as well.

So, again—why would we do this thing?

Ah, let me count the reasons…
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Nashville's Brian Davidson gets 3rd place in Guitar Superstar 2009
This year, Brian Davidson of Nashville won second runner-up in the Guitar Superstar International Competition. The competition is a 3-day celebration of guitars, music, and gear presented by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in Livermore, CA. and has been going on for five years now. All across the world, guitarists of all ages use their Sonicbids accounts to send their best performances to Guitar Player.

Then, the ten finalists that were chosen played their best for the title of International Guitar Superstar at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, CA on September 12. Steve Senes of Myrtle Beach, SC took first place and Krisz Simonfalvi of Dallas, TX took second.

This event is about celebrating the awesome power of the guitar, and all ten finalists stood onstage and delivered absolutely sizzling performances. Each player is a thrilling evangelist for all that is good and holy about transcendent guitar playing, and we were honored and humbled to have them represent their technique, creativity, and passion right here at Guitar Superstar 2009." – Guitar Player Editor in Chief Michael Molenda

All of the contestants won an all-expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. Steve Senes, Krisz Simonfalvi, and Brian Davidson also received trophies and complete gear packages. You can find out more about Steve Senes in an upcoming Guitar Player magazine article.

As for Brian Davidson, who started playing guitar at age eight, is planning on going to the studio with his recent success to put out a CD. He's a huge fan of Guitar Player Magazine and has had a subscription since 1983. Therefore, when the International Competition came out in 2004, he entered every year. He says he sent something new in each year hoping to win.

This year the competition kind of snuck up on me, so I sent a compilation of my previous entries in." -- Brian Davidson
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Superswamp Guitar Hero is No. 1 Shredder
“I was in shock,” said Steve Senes, veteran Grand Strand guitarist and winner of the latest Guitar Player Magazine’s “Guitar Player Superstar” contest. Senes, guitarist for local Southern rock outfit Superswamp Heroes, was still high from being crowned No. 1 in the competition when we spoke at midnight Sunday, after he’d just landed in Myrtle Beach. He was back from a triumphant trip to San Francisco where he went Sept. 9 as a finalist and came home the overall winner of more than $5,000 worth of gear, several endorsement deals, and of course – serious bragging rights.

“It’s still kind of blur,” said Senes, who resides in Surfside Beach. He’s played with a variety of local acts including Tim Clark & Déjà vu, Charlie Floyd, N’Tranze (from 2004 – 2006), and with Superswamp Heroes since 2007.

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Ten finalists battled for the international title of “Guitar Superstar” at Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar 2009 competition Saturday, September 12 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, California. Steve Senes of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, captivated the crowd and the judges with his fierce technique to emerge victorious in Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar competition.

First runner-up was Krisz Simonfalvi of Dallas, Texas (originally from Budapest, Hungary) and Brian Davidson of Nashville, Tennessee took second runner-up.

Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar fifth annual event was the centerpiece of Guitar Player LIVE!, a 3-day celebration of guitars, music, and gear presented by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in Livermore, California, east of San Francisco.

Across the globe, hundreds of “unknown” guitarists of all ages and styles answered the call to post their best performances at Ten finalists were chosen to perform onstage in front of a live audience and a panel of world-famous guitar stars that included Elliot Easton (The Cars), Jennifer Batten (guitarist for Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck), Steve Lukather (Toto), Earl Slick (David Bowie), and Greg Hampton, (producer of Alice Cooper, Ronnie Wood, Lita Ford).

The judges provided comments after each contestant’s performance in an American Idol-style format, finding much to highlight among the uniformly high quality of the performances. Introducing each contestant and serving as master of ceremonies was Brendon Small, co-creator of Adult’s Swim’s Metalocalypse animated series.

“This event is about celebrating the awesome power of the guitar, and all ten finalists stood onstage and delivered absolutely sizzling performances,” said Guitar Player Editor in Chief Michael Molenda. “Each player is a thrilling evangelist for all that is good and holy about transcendent guitar playing, and we were honored and humbled to have them represent their technique, creativity, and pa [Read More...]
Guitar showdown: Steve Langemo flies to San Francisco for national contest
Steve Langemo never thought of music as a competitive sport, but the local musician’s attitude softened in June when he stumbled upon an Internet link for a competition sponsored by Guitar Player magazine.

He decided to enter his first guitar contest, and the impulse paid off.

“I’ve always thought that stuff was slightly goofy,” said Langemo, who was one of 10 guitarists from across the country selected in August to travel to San Francisco to compete on Sept. 11.

“This is different from what they used to do when I was a kid in the ’80s and early ’90s — when the rock guitar god thing was big,” he continued. “In those contests, guys would just come out and play fast guitar by themselves for three minutes.”

For this competition, the finalists will each perform one original guitar-based composition backed by a house band.

“It’s cool because there’s a backing band and you play your own stuff,” Langemo said.

“It’s a guitar competition, but I think they’re looking for somebody who can write, play well and also present the whole thing well.”

Langemo, who teaches more than 50 guitar students each week, performs locally with a jazz fusion trio and several rock bands. He can be seen on Friday, Sept. 4, performing at Canal Street Tavern with Aja, the Steely Dan tribute band he joined in 2004.

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Guitar Film Fest at Guitar Player Live!
Guitar Player LIVE!, presented by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center and Guitar Player magazine will feature over 30 bands on four outdoor free stages, free clinics, concerts at the Bankhead Theater, an international guitar-playing competition, plus a constant stream of guitar movies.

Guitar Player LIVE! attendees can purchase a Vine Cinema “All Access Pass” and experience “all you can see” classic and cult films including Gimme Shelter, This Is Spinal Tap, Woodstock, Yellow Submarine, A Mighty Wind, and Across the Universe during the Guitar Player LIVE! weekend.

It Might Get Loud, a guitar documentary featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White will have its premiere showing on Friday, September 11 at 12:30 p.m. This new documentary was conceived by producer Thomas Tull and directed and produced by An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim. Tickets are available for a separate admission fee. The Vine Cinema, an independent film house, will be serving beer, wine and food.
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White Rock's Doug Towle makes Guitar Player finals
Doug Towle, take a bow. Better yet, take a solo. The White Rock resident has been named a finalist in Guitar Player magazine’s Guitar Superstar Competition.

He’ll play at the mag’s celebration weekend, Sept. 11-13, in front of a panel of judges that include Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson’s guitarist), Elliot Easton, Greg Hampton and Steve Lukather. The competition is a highlight of what amounts to a trade fair at Livermore Valley, California.

Towle is one of 10 finalists, who were selected from hundreds of entries. He’ll be judged on technique, creativity, charisma and overall vibe accompanied by Guitar Player’s house band, Thud Factor.

All 10 contestants receive an all-expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. The winner, first runner-up and second runner-up of the event will receive custom trophies and complete gear packages. The champion will receive a feature article in Guitar Player magazine and prizes from event sponsors.

First Exhibition of Bill Owen’s Photographs at Altamont during Guitar Player Live!
Many young residents and visitors to Livermore, east of San Francisco are not aware that it was the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival took place here forty years ago. The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was a rock concert held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. Headlined and organized by The Rolling Stones, it also featured, in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.

Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock West.” Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into a documentary film entitled Gimme Shelter (1970). The event is best known for having been marred by considerable violence, including one homicide and three accidental deaths: two caused by a hit-and-run car accident and one by drowning in an irrigation canal. Four births were reported during the event as well.

Bill Owens shot the concert for the Associated Press newswire. “Our plan was to be the first news photographers to transmit images of the event. We didn’t know if the UPI (United Press International), Newsweek, or television stations were covering the event but it turned out that they weren’t,” says Owens. “I made images of the violence at the Altamont concert and sold them to Rolling Stone and numerous national magazines. I was afraid to use my own name in the photo credits, as I feared the Angels would come and murder me. Beth’s (the other AP photographer) photographs did show the man who did the murder, and he was later arrested and sent to prison.” [Read More...]
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