THE SECOND SERIES of Sky Arts TV talent show Guitar Star kicked off last night at 8pm, with auditionees in all music genres competing for the attention of a new panel of mentors. Jazz soul guitar legend George Benson, and rising star of classical guitar Milos Karadaglic were joined by Tony Visconti, producer extraordinaire of David Bowie and Marc Bolan and a man who’s worked closely with some of rock’s axe greats, including Mick Ronson and Robert Fripp. But what exactly are they hoping to find this time around?
“I’m looking for virtuosity,” Visconti tells MOJO. “And I’m looking for passion. Those two things. I like guitarists who play flawlessly, but these days you can see kids on YouTube who can shred, but they don’t have the passion. They just have a good learning ability. I’m looking for that soulful element. And I think that’s what George Benson is looking for. And Miloš too. We’re all in agreement on that.”
“I would work with any one of the five semi-finalists. They are great.”
Roughly in the vein of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, subsequent episodes of Guitar Star will whittle down the contestants, who battle for the chance to strut their stuff onstage at the Latitude Festival at the end of July.
Visconti says he’s looking for a musician as much as he is a guitarist – a budding artist, in other words.
“Someone like Mick Ronson exemplifies what I’m talking about,” says the producer. “He could shred. His technique was flawless. But he came up with the sweetest, most beautiful guitar parts. You don’t need to be quick to do that.
“I’m looking for someone who I would like to work with eventually,” he continues. “I’d like to see this person make a transition to the professional music world. And I’ll tell you now that I would work with any one of the five semi-finalists. They are great.”
Of course, Visconti can’t tell us their names – that would ruin the suspense. What he *will say is that he feels strongly that the quality of the entrants is on another level to that of 2015’s inaugural competition.
“I think the big difference from the first series is that now Guitar Star has a name,” says the producer. “After they saw the first series, guitarists all over said, ‘Oh, this is the real deal! I wanna be on this show!’ We’re getting the crême de la crême now.”
Judge for yourself next week, when Episode 2 of Guitar Star Series 2 airs on Tuesday, June 21 at 8pm.