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Friday, July 7, 2017


(Guy Buttery)

A display guitar playing of astonishing grace, power and originality. (Review by Keith Millar)

South African acoustic guitar wizard, Guy Buttery, is a perennial participant at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Over the years, he has enchanted and mesmerised audiences with the brilliance of his guitar playing, and has built up a loyal and adoring fan base. In fact, no other musician has won more Standard Bank Ovation Awards at the festival than Buttery.

This year he appeared as a solo artist at the intimate Graham Hotel venue. This, even though the festival programme had billed him to be playing alongside Cape Town’s double bass maestro Shane Cooper. No explanation was offered for the change in programme.

However, his loyal fans, who turned up in numbers, did not give a hoot as they revelled in a display guitar playing of astonishing grace, power and originality. It is hard to remember that the instrument he is playing is a humble guitar as he creates a montage of textures and rhythms, which are simply astounding.

Buttery makes liberal use of loops and an ebow (an electronic device which creates a sound reminiscent to the using a bow on strings). This, along with his tapping, picking and strumming, creates such a rich and complex sound picture which almost sounds as if a multi-instrument band is performing.

Buttery also delivered one number on the sitar. An instrument he says he is in the process of learning to play. Well, he sounded pretty darned good to me.

Between numbers, Buttery is friendly and laid-back in the extreme. Even engaging in casual chat with the audience. Not even a broken string could upset him as he took a brief break to replace it.

But once he starts playing, it is as if he enters another world. He becomes one with his music and he connects completely with the soul of his guitar. The result is music that passionate, adventurous, richly textured, emotional and completely captivating.

Buttery has a burgeoning international career and is spending increasing amounts of time touring overseas. So, don’t wait until the next festival to see him perform - look out for a local event featuring him, or with him collaborating with other artists as he often does, and be sure not miss it.

Buttery has one more performance left at Grahamstown this year: tomorrow (July 8) at 16h00 at the Thomas Pringle Hall at the Monument. – Keith Millar