LEAD GUITAR: Six guitarists play Union Alley Coffee House

Published 8:59 pm Thursday, January 2, 2014

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It takes a good ear and a dexterous hand to jam like these guys. They are lifelong musicians — six lead guitarists — and they’re gathering at the Union Alley Coffee House Saturday night for a free Open Mic Night performance.

Bassist, and Beaufort County Traditional Music Association board member, Jay Costello organized the show, drawing from a list of professional and semi-professional eastern Carolina musicians.

“I just kind of put the word out and these six guitarists — who are really, really, really good — responded,” Costello said. “We’re hoping that we’ll get a real good crowd.”

The show will start with local guitarist Bill Walker and vocal selections by Lyle Carlson, then Steve Creech and Joe Califano will jazz up the next set, followed by rock and blues guitarists J.B. Mayes and Jeff Shirley. Mark Sclafani will accompany his vocalist wife, Tina, with swing-style jazz guitar and Robert McGaughy will make a special appearance as the show’s percussionist.

The BCTMA hosts Open Mic Night once a month at the Coffee House, with each BCTMA board member taking a turn at putting together the line up. Costello said this line up came together easily, as the lull after the holidays cleared schedules and freed up a Saturday night for these guys.

“It kind of makes me feel good that these people are willing to come so far on a Saturday night to support all the things that BCTMA stands for,” Costello said.

From Edenton, Snow Hill, Greenville — these musicians are performing at the Union Alley Coffee House as way to give back to an organization that supports and encourages musicians of all skill levels, Costello said.

“I love the fact that (BCTMA is) there to help people experience music, whether as a listener or a player,” Costello explained.

His fellow performers — each has performed at BCTMA events over the years — feel the same, Costello said. The highlight of the night’s performance will be a jam session with the six lead guitarists, each of which brings a different guitar style to the mix. Costello will accompany them on the bass for part of the evening.

While the BCTMA open mic nights are normally reserved for those musicians who don’t often get the chance to play publicly, Saturday night’s performance represents another opportunity to a different kind of music, specifically different styles of guitar playing, according to Costello.

“It’s really just about giving people the opportunity to get the BCTMA-Union Alley Coffee House-Artisans’ Center-downtown Washington experience,” Costello said.

Open Mic Night begins at 7 p.m. at the Union Alley Coffee House, located in the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, 158 W. Main St., Washington.