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At last we reach the final part of our coverage on the Jason Becker Not Dead Yet 2011 festival. Hopefully you've enjoyed what I've been able to share with you so far and hopefully this has spurred you to go out and check out some of these guys. So far we've covered some pretty hot names like Andy James, and Daniele Gottardo but these guys are small fish compared to the names we have in this last installment; so read on and be inspired. There's a lot to tell you about the artists involved in this part of the show, but as always we're here for Jason, so allow me a minute to highlight some ways in which you can get involved and help out.

First of all, there are a series of auctions being held by the "Not Dead Yet" team, the auction contains signed goodies from the guys at the show and a host of other huge names including Eddie Van Halen. Head on over to http://jasonbeckerfest.com/Auction/auction.php and keep an eye out for new additions.

Our next cause is a very different one, not quite a charity, but we think it's going to do wonders raising awareness for Jason which should help bring in some money to help Jason's family. Take a look at the following trailer then take a look at the Not Dead Yet film site and consider donating to the cause. (I notice some of our readers names already on the donation list - well done guys!)

http://www.jasonbeckermovie.com/

The last part of this concert I'd like to mention before continuing with the music is when Philippe de Lange comes on stage. Initially we think that he's just one more person coming on to announce an artist, or thank us for coming but this appearance is much deeper as he begins "Hey, my name is Philippe and like Jason and all you guys I LOVE music and the guitar, and like Jason I've been diagnosed with ALS". Philippe then tells us his story and his thoughts and feelings on his future and how Jason is a constant inspiration to him in his daily life. I for one am crying a little as he is clearly holding back the tears and I know other members of the audience are welling up. This is a tough thing to hear and the rest of the Not Dead Yet team are openly in pieces over how cruel fate can be. Philippe runs www.stopALS.nu which is just as valuable a cause, so please do take the time to let his story touch you as much as it touched me. (It's hitting me pretty hard again now!)

Now back to the music - in this installment I'll focus on giving you videos to allow you to check out these guys and tease you with some of the footage from the gig which should make it to DVD in the near future!

Time for Mattias "IA" Eklundh to hit the stage. Sweedish born Mattias is an absolute must know name on the instrumental scene as he's one of possibly two players in the last 15 years who's developed a truly unique and instantly recognizable voice on the instrument. His style is based on rhythmic devices, odd time signatures and a mind bending control of natural harmonics which he manipulates with his whammy bar. Just take a look at the following video and pick your jaw up off the floor. Dig a little further and you'll find a man who uses chopsticks and vibrators, draws influence from his printer starting up, has a fully developed drumkit...in his mouth, and has released some (almost) sacrilegious covers of Smoke on the Water and La Bamba (to name a few!)

Mattias' music is always light hearted, and showcases his incredible personality and sense of humour and as he rips through tunes like La Bamba and Samba Caramba the audience is given a breath of fresh air from the all out shred we've enjoyed previously. Mattias also takes to the mic for a tune when he plays the song "Happy Hour" (With Martin Miller) which certainly speaks to the audience with the opening gambit "It's Happy Hour, we sure could use a break".

There were a couple of people I chatted to who weren't familiar with Mattias at all, needless to say, he won them over. Even coming out after his set to chat with people and enjoy the show. Ultimately that's the thing with Mattias - he's one of the guys. I met Mattias a couple of years ago when I had a private lesson with him and years later, be it at a Freak Kitchen gig, a German trade show or a gig in Amsterdam - he still remembers me and that goes a long way with me and with everyone else who sees him initiating conversations with people he hasn't seen in years. I cant wait to catch up with him again.

Mattias Eklundh Shreds!

Our penultimate act tonight is one I've been looking forward to for a long time - Michael Lee Firkins. Michael originally exploded onto the scene in 1990 with his self titled debut album which showcases his eclectic mix of 80s technique (rapid fire arpeggios and tapping) with his more unorthodox country and slide influences. I highly recommend checking out his Hot Licks video where he demonstrates his ability to manipulate the whammy bar to imitate slide. The following video should give you an idea of what I mean - there's noone who sounds quite like that. 

Michael's name has been a bit quiet for a few years now releasing just one album, "Black Light Sonatas", in the past 12 years so I'm genuinely itching to get to see him play live and see what he's about now. People can change so much in that period of time. We must remember though, Michael does play on Jason Becker's album "Perspective" released after Jason was taken down with ALS - so his appearance here tonight is extremely relevant.

Looking back, I have mixed feeling about Michaels set, he played just one instrumental and then two covers (Voodoo Chile and War Pigs) both of which were played on a strange resonator telecaster hybrid. Don't get me wrong, it was great to see him playing songs and singing and (as mentioned with Mattias) it was a real welcome break to have this departure from all out shred for a bit - though I would say that each cover lasted almost 10 mins as there was a lot of jamming going on and I did find myself praying we were going to get one more instrumental like "Deja Blues".

Michael Lee Firkins complete with Thomas the Tank Engine Strat

It must be said though - the band (especially Atma) haven't grooved this well all night and they're really in the moment here as Atma grins from ear to ear as he pounds the skins with reckless abandon. It was great to see him launch to his feet at the end and run over to embrace Michael, he clearly enjoyed this set and I think that energy is passed onto the audience as we all think it's been a great show.

Finally, the moment most of the audience appear to be waiting for - the mighty Guthrie Govan. Before I write this I should include a bit of a disclaimer as many people were shocked that I gave set of the gig to Gottardo and they were convinced it should have been Guthrie. I live in North London and have made the pilgramage out to see Guthrie play in the basement more times than I can keep track of - I've seen Guthrie on good nights, "bad" nights and completely magical nights. This is the risk of being an improvising musician, sometimes things don't quite go how you plan. From chatting to people I get the impression that this is their first time seeing one of the greatest guitarists alive, something they've been looking forward to for weeks - their opinions MAY be slightly biased.

Guthrie Live

After all that you may be thinking I'm about to give Guthrie a terrible review - far from it! He's awesome as always and his music is only augmented by the fact that he has Atma Anur and Stu Hamm backing him. I would say that I like Guthrie with rhythm guitar or keys (The Erotic Cakes band with Dave K on rhythm was just perfect live) just because it fills the sonic spectrum out a little, but this is only a minor thing - far from a deal breaker. 

For those of you who've been in a cave for the last 5 years, Guthrie is a British guitarist who's been floating around the underground scene since the shrapnel era but to avoid falling into the "shred" category he's put of releasing an album until 2006's "Erotic Cakes". He really shot to fame when he recorded a set of solos for (at the time) BluesJamTracks.com where he displayed great feel, tone, technique, phrasing and consistency. As I mentioned previously, he plays (almost) every week in a tiny little basement in Chelmsford with his Jazz Fusion band "The Fellowship" - the following is a transcription of Guthrie's solo on "Seventh Heaven"

(Downloadable from www.LeviClay.com)

The set consists of Sevens, Wonderful Slippery Thing, Fives and Waves - Guthrie's go to songs for a show like this. It would have been great to see Bad Asteroid but that will have to wait for the upcoming Aristocrats tour. 

Guthrie proves that most of your tone is in your fingers as after many years on Cornford amps, and now on Suhr amps (Check out his killer tone on the Aristocrats album!) he appears to be playing some local gear, a Hook amp - and he sounds like him. This is proved further when halfway through his set the Hook amp blows up and Guthrie is forced to use a Laney (prompting Stu to take a great solo) but be it a Cornford, Suhr, Hook or Laney - Guthrie's tone is immense!

Live footage of "Sevens"

Guthrie's playing is great and he pulls off most of his lines with rock and roll attitude and the relaxation of a monk - he's in his moment and when he's there the audience get what they expect. The only reason I cant say that he pulls of all of his lines with perfection is that in the chorus of Sevens (as you can see from the video above) there are a few bum notes - I put this down to the fact that he didn't pull his hair-tie onto the fretboard, and that his mind was elsewhere. This isn't an issue though as we're not here to watch a CD, we're here for the spirit and the fun and you can't avoid the fact that these guys are having a great time, and that rubs off onto the audience. 

Guthrie Rocking!

A definite highlight and a fitting end to a great show!

I hope this short series has given you an insight into how great a night this was, and that next time we might see you there too. Next on our agenda is the Guitar Idol final - so keep your eyes peeled for the write-up on that!

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