Tag Archives: Review

REVIEW: Guitar Center Sessions – Paul Gilbert

22 Jul
Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert - Photo: Guitar Center

If you’ve been playing rock guitar seriously for any amount of time, then you know about Paul Gilbert. If you don’t, well, then you’re old. Either that or you spend a lot of your time under rocks.

The tuned-in among us know why Paul’s instructional videos and performances on YouTube are so popular: besides being an amazing player, he’s an excellent teacher. His explanations of even the most technical ideas are so incredibly clear that after it sinks in, you’re left thinking “why the hell didn’t I think of that?” Bottom line is watching and listening to Paul will make you a better guitar player. Period. Yeah, he’s THAT good.

On July 17th & 18th, the Kansas City area was fortunate to have Guitar Center host not one, but two of their “Sessions” events in Independence, MO and Overland Park, KS, respectfully, both with Paul as the featured artist. These Sessions are meant to be less of a clinical experience, and more like storytelling around a musical campfire.

I attended the Sunday evening Session in Overland Park with over 100 of my closest guitar-playing friends. This was my first Session event and I have to say it had a really hip vibe. The formula of “education, conversation, inspiration” plus Paul’s super-cool stage presence made the night feel like a guitar show-and-tell with the room hanging on every note the cool kid played from the head of the class.

BTW, a bazillion thanks to Jason Martin (he runs the Sessions program for Guitar Center) for 1) being dialed in on the artists people want to see, 2) making this FREE Session happen, and 3) taking the time to talk with me afterwards. Jason did a fantastic job MC-ing the event, warming up the crowd, and preparing us for the awesomeness that was about to take place.

Soon after taking the stage, Paul introduced two local, highly recommended, and very lucky musicians: Tyson Leslie on bass and GoGo Ray on drums. These two guys created such an incredibly tight rhythm section that most of the time I felt them more than I heard them. And at this event, in this setting, behind this guitar player, that was a good thing. This was also the first time I’d seen Paul live so seeing him do normal stuff like plugging in, testing sound levels, and tuning up took away any doubt that he is a guitar playing android stuck in “melt your friggin’ face off” mode. Good thing too. I was starting to wonder.

Here’s a quick rundown of the gear Paul was using:

After a few introductory, albeit lower-frequency words (he had a serious frog in his throat), Paul and the group proceeded to work down the set list which included a mixture of classic rock, blues, J.S. Bach, and of course, Johnny Cash.