1st Annual Guitar International Awards

By: Staff

As 2010 comes to an end, and Guitar International enters its second year on the web, we have decided to pay tribute to the guitarists that caught our attention this year by launching the 1st Annual Guitar International Awards.

These winners are the cream of the crop for 2010, at least in the eyes of our editorial team and readership, as they have all risen to the top of the guitar world with their new releases and live performances.

So, without further ado, here are the 1st Annual Guitar International Award winners for 2010.

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The Winners

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Guitarist of the Year: Eric Johnson

There were many guitarists that had great years in 2010, but none more so than Eric Johnson. There really wasn’t much that Johnson didn’t accomplish as a guitarist this year. He was a member of the Guitar Masters Tour, featuring Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino, as well as being featured on the all-star lineup for the Experience Hendrix Tour 2010.

But those are small items in the eyes of his fans who have waited five long years, well that’s relative as Johnson is known to be meticulous in the studio with his albums, for the release of his latest record Up Close. Though it may be another half decade before Johnson releases another studio record, his latest album has more than enough great music to satisfy his followers.

While some readers can list other players that might deserve this award for 2010, no matter what your bias, you have to admit that Johnson was firing on all cylinders this year, making it one of the most productive and exciting years in the Texas guitarist’s long and storied career.

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Further Reading

Eric Johnson: The Guitar Masters Interview

Eric Johnson: The Gear Interview

Eric Johnson: The Up Close Interview

Eric Johnson Strat

Eric Johnson Photo Credit: Rob Cavuoto

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Breakthrough Guitarist: Orianthi

Since making her film debut as part of Michael Jackson’s band in This is It, Australian born guitar virtuoso Orianthi, and her two PRS guitars Pepper and Manos, have taken the world by storm. Her debut single in 2010, “According to You,” peaked at number 17 in the U.S. and her sophomore album Believe featured a guest appearance by none other than Steve Vai, not bad company for a woman barely out of her teens.

We had a chance to catch Orianthi at the Experience PRS show this fall and boy did she put on a helluva show. Taking the stage, she played an original instrumental, then “According to You,” followed by a face melting version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” It takes a lot of guts to cover Hendrix, especially in front of 2500 guitar enthusiasts, but Orianthi pulled it off without a hitch, with everyone walking away stunned by the frettastic display they just witnessed.

If 2010 was the year that brought Orianthi to the world, then 2011 should be the year that firmly entrenches this talented Aussie as a true force in the guitar world.

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Further Reading

Interview with Guitar Sensation Orianthi

Orianthi Live in Concert Photo Gallery

Orianthi With Her PRS Guitar

Orianthi With Her PRS Guitar

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Breakthrough Artist: Nonpoint

It’s hard to imagine a band winning an award called “Breakthrough Artist” after they’ve been in the trenches, slugging it out for 13 years. But, this is just the case with Florida alternative rockers Nonpoint. After working their asses off for over a decade, and dealing with the ups and downs of the current music industry, the band’s hard work and perseverance paid off with their 2010 release Miracle. Debuting at number 59 on the Billboard charts, the record made Nonpoint a household name, at least in houses where they love hard rockin’ metal.

The band has undergone some changes over the years, and the recent departure of long-time guitarist Andrew Goldman in 2008 could have spelled the end for the group. But, a band that’s been around this long obviously doesn’t give in that easily, and instead of folding they welcomed guitarist Zach Broderick in the group and haven’t looked back since. Whether it was the addition of Broderick, their determination and hard work, or the stars just aligned, but 2010 was the year that Nonpoint finally got the recognition they have long deserved.

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Further Reading

Interview with Nonpoint Bassist Ken Charman

Interview with Nonpoint Guitarist Zach Broderick

Nonpoint Bassist Ken Charman

Nonpoint Bassist Ken Charman

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Up and Coming Guitarist of the Year: Matt Palmer

Classical guitarists don’t usually get much attention when it comes to these types of awards. They’re usually relegated to a category specifically for them, cast aside from the rest of the crowd for being “uncool,” or at least not as cool as their rock and metal brethren. But, after you hear Matt Palmer play a few notes of any piece, modern or historical, the classical guitar takes on a whole new persona, transformed into an instrument that can rival the hipness of any flashy, electric performance.

Though he’s barely out of college, and is still working on his Dissertation at the time of this article, Palmer is a force to be reckoned with on the guitar. Check out any of his YouTube videos to see just why we believe that Palmer has set himself up to be the next star of the classical guitar world, and with a bit of creative programming, the guitarist that just might bridge the gap between the traditional classical crowd and the rest of the guitar loving audience.

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Further Reading

Interview with Matt Palmer

Matt Palmer Debut Album Review

Matt Palmer Classical Guitar

Photo Credit: Mamta Popat, Tucson AZ

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Guitarist Deserving Wider Recognition: Adam Miller

While fellow Australian Orianthi has managed to capture the world’s attention in 2010, fingerstyle guitarist Adam Miller is waiting in the wings for his big breakout, something that we at GI feel is inevitable given the massive amount of talent and musicality Miller possesses. His music is groove oriented, highly melodic and just plain fun. Coupled with incredible technique and a knack for writing a catchy tune, Miller has everything it takes to be a world-wide success, and we feel that this could definitely be the year that he reaches international acclaim on the level his playing deserves.

If you haven’t checked out Miller’s playing yet, do yourself a favor and run over to his website to grab his latest album, or just check out his YouTube videos, both of which will have you becoming a fan of Adam Miler in no time.

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Further Reading

Interview with Adam Miller

Adam Miller at Summer NAMM 2010

Adam Miller Album Review

Fingerstyle Guitarist Adam Miller

Fingerstyle Guitarist Adam Miller

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Guitar Album of the Year: Lee Ritenour “6-String Theory”

With an all-star lineup featuring the likes of Slash, Steve Lukather, Vince Gill and Andy McKee, just to name a few, it’s no wonder that Lee Ritenour’s 2010 album 6 String Theory was at the top of our list for guitar records this year, and subsequently the review of the album turned out to be the most popular article on our site for the entire year.

While all-star jams like this can sometimes produce mixed results when it comes to the overall value of the album itself, beyond the big names that adorn the cover, 6-String Theory is everything that a great record featuring great players should be. The music is well-written, the performers bring an enormous amount of creativity to the project, and the chemistry seeps through every lick, chord and phrase.

If you only buy one guitar album this year, 6-String Theory is it.

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Further Reading

Review of 6-String Theory

Interview with Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour and his Les Paul Guitar

Lee Ritenour and his Les Paul Guitar

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Guitar Concert of the Year: Experience Hendrix 2010

For those of us that grew up after the early passing of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, we were never lucky enough to catch the master in concert. Having to make do with video footage shot over his short lifetime, many fans were never able to experience his music live on stage, where the full effect of his legacy could be felt. While no player today can imitate or replicate the magic of a Hendrix show, the Experience Hendrix Tour allowed fans to see some of their favorite players pay tribute to a man that has inspired countless millions of guitarists and fan across the globe over the past four decades.

Featuring a lineup that would make any guitar fan drool, including Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the tour criss-crossed the U.S. this fall and early winter, bringing Hendrix’s music to life with their energetic and world-class performances. Though the tour isn’t as good as being able to see Hendrix live, for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to do so, this is as good as it gets, and we’re happy to be a part of it.

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Further Reading

Experience Hendrix Tour Review

Experience Hendrix Tour Photo Gallery 1

Experience Hendrix Tour Photo Gallery 2

Guitar Heroes: Jimi Hendrix

Eight Strats the Pay Tribute to Jimi Hendrix

Steve Vai at Experience Hendrix 2010

Steve Vai at Experience Hendrix 2010 Photo Credit: Rob Cavuoto

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Guitar DVD of the Year: Steve Vai “Where the Wild Things Are”

While Steve Vai could have easily won the award for Guitarist of the Year in 2010, as he could in any given year, we felt that with Eric Johnson taking that honor that we needed to shine a spotlight on a great year that was for the accomplished composer and guitarist. Seeing Steve Vai live is an experience all unto itself, and his latest live release Where the Wild Things Are couldn’t have captured that essence any better. Though the album was released at the end of 2009, this baby had some legs and continued to amaze and inspire viewers throughout the past 12 months, so we decided to include in the 2010 edition of the awards.

Featuring 2 hours and 40 minutes of music, the DVD’s 27 tracks present Vai at his very best. His band is top notch, his solos incredible and the compositions exactly what you’d expect from someone who has spent the better part of the last 25 years as one of the best guitarists, and in many people’s opinions the best guitarist, in the world. This release not only sums up Vai’s output over the past 12 months, but it is a preface of more great music to come in the new year.

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Further Reading

Where the Wild Things Are Debuts

Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are Interview

Steve Vai: The Vaitunes Interview

Steve Vai: The Fire Garden Interview

Steve Vai with his Ibanez Guitar

Steve Vai with his Ibanez Guitar

5 Comments

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    [...] Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory has been awarded the “Best Guitar Album of the Year” for 2010 from Guitar International Magazine! The last track on this album is a solo piece played by Shon Boublil which is the only classical guitar music on the album. Matt Palmer, a classical guitarist was awarded the best up and coming guitarist of the year. Read more… [...]

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