This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.
In 2017, the Italian musician Luca Stricagnoli’s cover of the hit Gorillaz’ song, “Feel Good Inc.” featuring his triple-neck guitar — an invention of his — went viral. The video of Stricagnoli executing the bass line, melody and percussion simultaneously has been seen over five million times.
Stricagnoli will guest host and perform in the International Guitar Night tour; it kicks off in Anchorage this weekend.
The guitarist will share the stage with Antoine Boyer, Cenk Erdoğan and Samuel Rouesnel (who goes by the stage name Samuelito), who play the gypsy jazz, fretless and Flamenco guitars, respectively. The musicians will present a number of solo, duos and quartet performances that cross music’s cultural borders.
Every year, International Guitar Night founder Brian Gore invites a handful of guitarists from around the world to tour Europe and North America. After wrapping up their most recent Germany tour in November, the quartet is ready to make their mark on North America.
Stricagnoli is bringing his triple-neck guitar on the road, too.
He says the original concept was to incorporate a regular acoustic guitar with a second — but with high-pitched strings. Then, he thought about including a reverse fretboard and adding a third guitar.
It took a year and a half for Italian luthier Davide Serracini to make Sctricagnoli’s concept a reality.
“The only solution was to make a new guitar — to have it built,” said Stricagnoli. “It’s like my baby.”
Stricagnoli frequently covers musical ballads from Michael Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and AC/DC while adding his own flare. His music videos have been seen over 100 million times combined.
Like Stricagnoli, Erdoğan sought inspiration from celebrated artists like Eric Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles. He began guitar at 15 and eventually received his degree from the Istanbul Bilgi University for music composition. Erdoğan has played his Turkish fretless guitar around the world, but it will be his first time in Alaska.
“I love the sound of [the] fretless guitar because it reminds me of my roots,” said Erdoğan. “It reminds me of the soil of Anatolia, the silk robes and the journey of Europe and Asia.”
The fretless guitar allows Erdoğan to play microtones and scales. It allows him to interchange melodies using techniques typically found in classical and Flamenco guitar.
The Turkish musician has been a leader in educating others about his instrument of choice by arranging classes and workshops in his home country.
“I started writing music to make this instrument a little bit more universal,” said Erdoğan.
International Guitar Night is especially significant to Erdoğan because he is the first Turkish man to join the ensemble.
“In the music scene of Turkey, people know that I’m going abroad for this tour, and they are always asking me, ‘Man, how did you make it? Man, can we make it also?’” said Erdoğan. “They support me a lot… For me, it’s really important.”
The musicians have been corresponding for two and a half years in preparation for the upcoming tour. In that time, they have become close.
Erdoğan admires the excitement the other men bring to the stage.
“I’m 40 years old,” said Erdoğan. “I had hard times in my country — economics and politics — and it takes you down — it holds your feet and takes you down. Those guys… they still have the passion. They just graduated from university and they are going to run the world, I know that.”
“We found ways to give some value to the skills of everyone, even if they are different,” said Stricagnoli.
International Guitar Night will be at the Discovery Theatre in the Alaska Performing Arts Center Jan. 18 and 19. Tickets and showtimes can be found at centertix.com.