Brian Gore is living proof guitar culture has moved beyond being a niche-market filled with theory-loving geeks and Eddie Van Halen wannabes.
Gore is the brainchild behind International Guitar Night, a roving series of guitar-centric tours that have taken place worldwide since 1995.
The fact that he's even bringing his baby to Coquitlam's Evergreen Cultural Centre tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 1) is a testament to the instrument's growing mass appeal.
"I think that the perception of guitar as kind of an insider sport that only aficionados enjoy and understand has changed," Gore said in a phone interview from his home in San Francisco. "I think people are beginning to recognize that this very unique, super-high quality music has a mass market appeal."
When Gore began International Guitar Night in the mid '90s, he and his touring mates were playing in smaller clubs and bodegas in the San Francisco Bay area.
From there, they slowly branched out into other small clubs in the U.S., but got one of their bigger breaks, incidentally enough, in the Vancouver Island community of Duncan.
It was there that Gore's group played their first-ever theatre show, which eventually led to them signing up with a U.S. booking agency.
Since then, Gore's roaming band of six stringers has been back to the west coast of B.C. more than a dozen times.
"My feeling is that spiritually, northern California is very connected to B.C. in some ways. Being in B.C. is almost more comfortable to me because California has become a very gentrified place," Gore said. "That's also very interesting, but there's more of a community-based quality in B.C. that reminds me of when I was growing up in California."
Outside of the odd stroke of luck, the talent alone on each tour speaks for itself and this year's lineup features guitarists from all corners of the globe playing distinctly different styles.
Heading up the list of players is Martin Taylor, a jazz virtuoso widely considered to be one of the best ever to play in the genre. A soloist by trade, Taylor's signature finger picking style has transformed the confines of jazz.
"He's widely regarded as the most influential guitarist in the United Kingdom," Gore said. "He has a one-of-a-kind approach to jazz guitar as a soloist."
Also featured is Solorazaf. Born in Madagascar but now living in France, the guitarist who goes by one name is a case study in covering any base he wants to musically.
Though his music is considered a hybrid of blues and jazz music mixed with his African roots, he also includes foot percussion via a "stompbox" instrument in his repertoire.
"He's playing in that rich, very unique indigenous finger-style guitar genre from Madagascar. But he's got his own signature in that," Gore said.
"He's doing a lot of really original things in his songs."
Latin Grammy-nominated guitarist Guinga, on the other hand, juxtaposes highly complex rhythms and harmonies with more accessible forms of jazz, blues and samba. Nine albums into his career, he's now considered one of the greatest living Latin guitar players.
"He's widely regarded as the most influential guitarist of his generation in modern Brazilian music," Gore said.
No slouch himself, Gore has toured the world more than 20 times and weaves through various slapping, tapping and percussive techniques on his guitar.
"The guitar is pretty much universal around the world - everybody practically plays the guitar or something related to it," said David Mann, Evergreen's performing arts manager. "Martin Taylor, alone, is a master. With the other guys, they are going to bring something so completely different. It's going to be exciting."
Tickets for International Guitar Night range in price between $15 and $35 and can be purchased online at www. evergreenculturalcentre.ca or by calling 604-927-6555.
Show time is 8 p.m.