Booo! Get off! Stop looking at my wife! Humdrum heckles to fill any performer with dread. But if you’re a half decent performer, fortunate enough to play in venues that don’t require a tetanus jab, and you can keep your eyes to yourself, you should be able to avoid these moronic vocal outbursts. But there is one heckle which is unavoidable, a quiet stealth-like heckle which goes under the radar and is delivered with a smile; “You’re really good, you should go on the X Factor”. I know this is said with good intentions, but musicians who have worked hard to organically forge a career, see shows like this as a cheats way to the top. But Sky Arts recent contribution to T.V talent shows with ‘Guitar Star’ (debuted on Sky1 and Sky Arts, Tuesday the 9th of June 2015) claimed to put the talent back into talent shows. But did they deliver? Our very own Pete Robson from Music Unbuttoned plays some pretty tasty blues, and received an invitation to take part in the show. Read Pete Robson's inside review of ‘Guitar Star’.
Here is a quick background of how I came to be involved. ‘Guitar Star’ is commissioned by ‘Sky’, and made by ‘Somethin’ Else’ a production company. As well as opening up auditions for anyone to apply, ‘Somethin’ Else’ also approached music schools, colleges and clubs, scouting for unique guitarists. I was contacted after being recommended by a small folk club in Sanderstead called ‘Lime Meadow Folk Club’. However this did not guarantee a place for me, I was still required to enter using the online application process.
It was obvious from the start that ‘Guitar Star’ wanted to break free from the stigma of prime time TV talent shows. William the assistant producer made this very clear when he phoned me with an invitation to take part. “It’s going to be on Sky Arts” he said as if to assure me that Sky Arts was a mark of quality. The series has now ended and I’m sorry to say ‘Guitar Star’ may have looked pretty, but it failed to restore credibility to TV talent shows. The trouble with television shows is they are made by television companies, I know this is obvious, but television companies focus on making television, not finding music. ‘Guitar Star’ was strictly structured; Venue's, judges and mentors all booked in advance of auditions. This makes it very difficult for the show to react to the unexpected. The four categories (Jazz, Acoustic, Classical, & Rock) were decided upon in advance, this meant only a Jazz, Acoustic, Classical or Rock guitarist could win. The show was limited by the limitations it had imposed upon itself.
Disappointingly ‘Guitar Star’ spent most of it's time focusing on the renowned venues and acclaimed mentors included in the show. What it should have focused on was the music or at the very least the guitar. With this in mind I shall stop this futile overview in favour of celebrating one of the most exciting guitarists I met during my brief involvement with ‘Guitar Star’.
Peter's character is intense, when he speaks to you his eyes stare deep into your soul. There is something very special about this dude, you know it within seconds of meeting him. Put a guitar in his hand and his fierce energy is channeled into a mesmerising display of musical excellence. During the London audition Peter Black was the guy everyone was talking about, he could play any style and he could jam with anyone. When Peter did play with others it was explosive, he added energy to the music, which would fuel his musical counterpart. Peter’s solo performances were equally as compelling to witness, his eyes open, his head held high, swaying to the music like a charmed snake. So why didn’t he win? The answer to that is easy, you can’t have winners in music, music is subjective. Below is a video of Peter Black making music, it shows some great guitar playing, but that’s just my opinion.