Guitar Summit: Camaraderie and music at the Colonial

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PITTSFIELD — For Tor Krautter, it all began in 2009 with the first Guitar Jam at the Colonial Theatre.

"It was the first time I ever set foot on the Colonial stage. I'd always wanted to play there," Krautter, the frontman and lead guitarist of Rev Tor Band, said during an interview at The Garage at the Colonial Theatre, where he works full time as programmer and rentals manager.

Produced by The Berkshire Eagle as a fundraiser for its Newspapers in Education program, Guitar Jam was an annual event that featured four Berkshires guitarists per concert, selected through a Facebook poll.

"There's a certain camaraderie among guitar players," Krautter said. "Those [Guitar] Jams were more of a contest; healthy competition without ego."

It's been some time — roughly six years — since the last of the Guitar Jams. So, in an effort to recapture the camaraderie without any sense of competition, Krautter is producing and hosting Berkshire Mountain Guitar Summit, 8 p.m. Thursday at the Colonial Theatre.

Guitar Summit will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. in The Garage by a free luthier expo, featuring makers of stringed instruments from around the county, and music performed by Randy Cormier. Participating luthiers are Steve Sauve Guitars, Berkshire Stringed Instruments, The Magic Fluke, and Mike Sherman Guitars.

Krautter is hoping the expo will, among other things, "create a vibe for the night."

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Guitar Summit will bring nine Berkshires guitarists — some playing solo; most backed by Krautter's band — who have been selected by a committee of 10 anonymous panelists, none of whom knew who the other selection committee members were. For the panel, Krautter chose a cross-section of individuals who are each familiar, in a variety of ways, with the Berkshires music scene, "some as fans; some non-guitar players," Krautter said. They each were asked to list their 10 favorite guitar players. Their final choices — Jason Ennis, Jay Fruet, Garrett Lechowski, Robin O'Herin, Fabrizio Perotti, Dave Reed, Rob Sanzone, Bobby Sweet, and Jack Waldheim — "close to the list I would have made myself," Krautter said. "I wanted a balanced field."

There will be two sets. While some of the guitarists are songwriters, each will perform one cover song in each set in an evening of music ranging from jazz to Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne. "Kind of crazy," Krautter said with a laugh. "It's a nice variety of performers and music; something for everyone," said Krautter, who will emcee. His band will open each set because, he said, "no one wants to go first."

As a prelude, Guitar Summit will open with a performance by the BTG (Berkshire Theatre Group) Youth Orchestra featuring members of Rock On! Young Musicians Workshop.

While no decision will be made immediately, Krautter is eyeing the possibility of making Guitar Summit an annual event.

"There is enough talent in the county," Krautter said, "that we can go through this same selection process each year without coming up with the same names each time."

Camaraderie matters to Krautter. It's camaraderie he's promoting, not only among the musicians but between the musicians and an audience drawn not only from the musicians' respective fan bases but also "anyone," he said, "who loves music.

"I would like this to be a night guitar lovers will love; a [true] celebration of the guitar."


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