Musicians – Guitar

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Marina Alexandra
guitar

Marina Alexandra, guitar

Marina Alexandra has established herself as a dynamic performer with a powerful stage presence. Finger Style Guitar Magazine described her as an "amazing player that commands the guitar with world-class technique and musicianship that is uncommon." She has received awards in several guitar competitions, including the Music Teachers National Association State and Regional Competitions and semifinalist in the 6th annual Edwin H. and Leigh W. Schadt National String Competition for classical guitar.

Marina has a concert career spanning the last fifteen years, taking her to Piccolo Spoleto Festival, National Public Radio, Allentown Radio, and hundreds of venues, including colleges and museums throughout USA. She has released two albums including, Timeless Enchantment (Baroque, Classical, Modern, and Latin-American music) and A Moment of Magic (modern music by Russian composer, Nikita Koshkin). Her last CD received high praises from such prestigious music magazines as Soundboard, Classical Guitar (UK) and American Record Guide.

Marina Alexandra was born in the Ukraine, where she began her guitar studies at the age of six. In 1996, she immigrated with her family to the United States, and in 1998, she was awarded an assistantship to earn her Master of Music degree at the University of South Carolina. She has served on the faculties of Furman University, University of South Carolina-Aiken, SC, Wingate University, and Columbia College. Marina is both founder and director of the Guitar Muse Society and the Southern Guitar Festival and Competitions. Her foundations have given opportunities for young guitarists to learn and compete in the southeast and around the entire United States.

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Keith Gehle

Keith Gehle - guitar

A native of Augusta, Georgia, classical guitarist Keith enjoys a busy career based in Atlanta as a concert guitarist, recording artist, composer and arranger, and teacher. He is well known among Atlanta event planners and is a top referral for many of Georgia’s finest venues. Keith began his performing career in the late 1980’s with a simple philosophy: advance the art of guitar performance through diverse music appealing to a wide audience. His many musical experiences (from rock, classical, folk and New Age styles) have produced an artist with a perspective and style that is unique in the community of solo/classical guitar.

Keith earned his Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance from The University of Georgia under the guidance of acclaimed guitar teacher John Sutherland, a protégé of Andres Segovia. In addition to his collegiate studies, Keith was selected to participate in the 1991 master class of Grammy nominated guitarist Christopher Parkening at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. There, he was chosen by fellow students as one of six distinguished performers to represent the class in a public concert. Keith’s extensive training with master guitarists has helped him become a sought after teacher in his own right. He currently directs the undergraduate guitar program for Toccoa Falls College in northeast Georgia and teaches privately at The Suwanee Academy of the Arts in metro Atlanta.

Keith Gregory
vocalist, guitar, songwriter

Keith Gregory, vocalist, guitar, songwriter

Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Keith “has spent most of my adult my life eating, drinking, and dreaming music.” He is based in Augusta, GA, and like all regional sought-after musicians, drives to cities in the SouthEast to perform for all occasions. A glance at his busy schedule is a glimpse into his versatility as a musician. In one day he can be heard providing comfortable background music during brunch at an elegant restaurant in Augusta, serenading a wedding party in the afternoon in Aiken, and then in the evening adding just the right styles and character to enhance a private social gathering.

When people ask Keith, "how would you describe your music?" his reply is “My music is fast, slow, stop and go; it’s happy, sad, good and bad. It’s new school, old school, alternative, pop, and sometimes it rolls, but mostly it rocks.”

Keith’s performance schedule, song lists, videos, audio clips and links to albums can be found on his website.

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Amos Hoffman
guitar, oud

Amos Hoffman, guitar, oud

Amos is an Israeli Jazz Guitarist and Oudist known worldwide as a pioneer in fusing the rhythms and melodic themes of the Middle East with Modern Jazz. Hoffman started playing guitar at the age of 6, and oud a few years later. He studied guitar privately, and later attended the prestigious Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem.

His search for new musical experiences led him first to Amsterdam, and then to New York City, where he played jazz with both established musicians and up and coming talents like Jason Lindler, bassists and fellow Israelis Omer Avital and Avishai Cohen, and Chilean vocalist Claudia Acuna. Hoffman has recorded 4 solo albums, The Dreamer (1999), Na’ama (2006), Evolution (2008) and Carving (2010).

Hoffman has performed at venues both small and large in Israel and around the world. He has also contributed on dozens more for artists in Israel (Idan Reichel and Nurit Galron) and worldwide including Avishai Cohen, Kiko Berenguer (Spain), and Jan Mlynarski (Poland). He was featured in Mezzo TV’s (France) Jazzmix Tel Aviv broadcast, and headlined at festivals in Israel, Turkey, Spain, Romania and France.

In 2014, Amos was awarded one of Israel’s most prestigious prizes – The Landau Prize for Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievement in the field of Jazz. Hoffman’s most recent release, BACK TO THE CITY (2015 follows in the tradition of the great guitarists of the old school – Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell – while bringing a fresh interpretation to the language of jazz guitar. BACK TO THE CITY features both original compositions and standards, with stellar lineup of old friends completing the : bassist Omer Avital, drummer Vince Ector, saxophonist Asaf Yuria, trumpeter Duane Eubanks and special guest Itai Kriss on flute.

Now based in Columbia, S.C., Hoffman looks forward to sharing his unique musical worldview with American audiences through his performances with the Rob Foster Jazz Quartet and other collaborations.

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Natalie Johnson
banjo, guitar, vocalist

Natalie Johnson, banjo, guitar, vocalist

Natalie has performed with numerous bluegrass luminaries including Sam Bush and Bela Fleck. She has performed at the prestigious MerleFest in North Carolina, and has performed with Custer’s Last Band as a founding member since 1990. Along with her fellow Custer’s Last Band members, Natalie is annually featured on the Southeastern Natural Science Academy Phinizy Swamp Soiree on the banks of the Savannah River, and is a regular performer on Appleby Library concert series in Augusta, Georgia. She gave the world premiere of Benji the Banjo with Carl Purdy and the Augusta Symphony Orchestra at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre in 2003.

In addition to being an extraordinary banjoist and guitarist Natalie is a composer; among her compositions is Powerful which showcases her virtuosity on the banjo. Natalie lives in Augusta, GA with her husband Wayne and is Administrative Nursing Supervisor of the ICU at University Hospital.

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Jennifer Parker
violin, vocalist, viola, mandolin, guitar

Jennifer Parker - violin, voice, viola, mandolin and guitar

Jennifer Parker, an Augusta native, started her musical journey at the age of 10 when starting violin through the Richmond County Orchestra program. At the age of 12, Jennifer picked up the guitar and began writing songs, and has been a singer-songwriter ever since. Throughout her teens, Jennifer also picked up the bass, piano, ukuleles, viola, and more. An avid bluegrass and folk music lover, Jennifer has played with bands such as the Tom Miller Project and Mamie Foreman and The Rosebuds, and has also recorded with local Augusta bands, the Radar Cinema, Jokers & Thieves, and Mann Ray.

Jennifer is often a featured performer with Event Horizons. She is also a part of the Sand Hills String Band, the Augusta State University (ASU) Orchestra, and is a student assistant for the Greater Augusta Youth Orchestras. Jennifer is also a strings teacher at East Aiken School for the Arts, a secretary and violin teacher at the Carolina Academy of Music, and teaches private lessons in the Augusta area for violin, guitar, and mandolin.

Jennifer received a degree from ASU as a Music Education major, and studied with Laura Tomlin and Carl Purdy. She is currently Assistant Orchestra Director at Durham Middle School in Acworth, GA.

Carl Purdy
viola, violin, mandolin, guitar, pennywhistle, banjo, harmonica, bagpipes, recorder, composer

Carl Purdy - viola, violin, mandolin, guitar, pennywhistle, harmonica, bagpipes, recorder, composer

Carl’s versatility as an instrumentalist and vocalist has enabled him to perform many styles of music, including Classical, Jazz, Traditional British Isles, Classic American Folk, New Age Country Western, and Bluegrass. Carl is violist and founding member of the Magellan String Quartet and Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra. He also performs as principal viola with the Augusta Opera and Augusta Choral Society.

At Augusta State University, Carl teaches viola, humanities, and directs the Sand Hills String Band. Carl also performs as soloist and chamber musician on the faculty of the International Music Festival at Vale Veneto, Brazil. He has recorded and toured internationally on the viola, jazz violin and viola, recorder, classical guitar, and folk guitar, in addition to composing and arranging for symphonies and chamber ensembles.

Carl performed with the members of the Franciscan Chamber Players in residence at the Summer Music Monterey music camp for many years, during which they recorded a compact disc with legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli. He developed his talents as a folk musician with the Boston-based Celtic band, St. James Gate, while attending New England Conservatory of Music in the 1980s. He was the principal violist of the La Crosse Symphony in Wisconsin before moving to Georgia for the position of Principal Viola with the Augusta Symphony.

Carl studied viola with Heidi Castleman and Walter Trampler at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

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Michael Ray
guitar, keyboards, conductor

Michael Ray - guitar, keyboards, conductor

Michael currently serves as choral music director at both the upper- and middle-divisions of Augusta Preparatory Day School, where he has been musical director for the following productions: Footloose, Fiddler on the Roof, Batboy, Chorus Line, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Grease. In addition, he has coached many state winners in vocal solo, trio, and quartet competitions, as well as in piano.

Aside from his work at Augusta Prep, Michael is also director of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a nonprofit, after-school arts program for economically challenged youth in Augusta.

As a performer in his own right, Michael plays keys and guitar and provides back-up vocals for two area bands, “My Instant Lunch” and “Eleventhe Hour.” “My Instant Lunch,” has received numerous accolades, including: Augusta Magazine’s Best Rock Band of 2010. They also won the Band-Aide Competition in 2010, and were named Best New Band of 2009 by Lokal Loudness. “My Instant Lunch” had the unique honor of performing a joint program with the Augusta Ballet, and most recently, performed for an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field.

As an accompanist and solo pianist, Michael accompanied Nicole Sponberg, former lead singer for SELAH, opened for “The Charlie Daniels Band,” and regularly plays for the Augusta Comedy Troupe, “Schoedinger’s Cat.”

Michael holds a bachelor of music degree from Ohio University and is currently enrolled in a master’s program at Augusta State University in choral conducting.

Erin Russ
Guitar, Vocals

Erin Russ - guitar, vocals

Erin Russ is an Augusta native who has been singing and playing music since elementary school. She started her music career with piano lessons when she was young and picked up the guitar at the age of 11. She has studied under the tutelage of Carl Purdy at Augusta State University. She loves performing and listening to a wide range of genres from bluegrass to musical show tunes. She is a member of the Sand Hills String Band, and has recorded and performed internationally through Augusta State University, including two successful trips to Ireland.

She currently studies at the University of Georgia completing her degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a certificate in Disability Studies.

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Travis Shaw
double bass, guitar

Travis Shaw - double bass, guitar

Travis Shaw is an Augusta, Georgia, native. Travis is well-versed in many styles of music, including jazz, rock, bluegrass, and classical styles. Travis is an active teacher in Augusta (Southeast Music Academy) and Aiken (Carolina Music Academy) and is in special demand as a performer in the jazz genre. Some of his notable collaborations have been with Ravi Coltrane, Rob Foster, Wycliff Gordon, Pulsar, A Step Up, and The Jazz Collective. Travis is often featured with Carl Purdy’s groups, including the In Praise of Music ensemble Event Horizons.

Travis has studied at the Atlanta Institute of Music, where he studied bass guitar under the well known virtuoso, Adam Nitti, and local working musicians, Alan Barnes and Gary Wilkins, and at Augusta State University, where he studied double bass with Barry Garman.

Travis has also spent time in the flourishing music scene of Athens, GA, where he studied jazz bass with Chris Enghauser of UGA, and performed in master classes with John Clayton and Rufus Reid. He currently lives in Augusta doing freelance work and teaching guitar and bass at The Carolina String Academy and The Southeast Music Academy.

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Matt Whittington
guitar

Matt Whittington - guitar

Matthew began playing guitar at the age of 12 and was soon performing with small groups. He began formal study in 1973 at Daytona State College and began playing professionally at the age of 17. In 1976 Matthew attended the University of Miami as a Jazz Guitar Performance Major. Matthew came to Augusta in 1981 and played with many of the area’s finest jazz musicians at local venues, as well as other jazz venues throughout the Southeast.

In 1986 Matthew moved to New York City, where he performed with fellow musicians and friends, the currently famous Ed Fuqua and Randy Johnston.

Matthew’s influences include the great saxophonist Charlie Parker and guitarists Charlie Christian and Jimmy Raney.

Since returning to Augusta in 2007, Matthew has been featured at the Cullum Series at Georgia Regents University, the Spoleto festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and Augusta’s Candlelight Jazz Series. He has also performed at various clubs and concerts in Augusta, Atlanta, and Columbia, South Carolina. Matthew was also a featured artist in the Augusta Chronicle’s “Sonic Spotlight” series.

Matthew currently teaches guitar at the Georgia Regents University Music Conservatory and at Portman’s Music Academy.


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