Scotty Burford is a guitarist/singer/multi-instrumentalist
Highly experienced (over 3,500 professional gigs to his name, hundreds of recording sessions across a range of projects), he has worked at all levels of the music industry, both across Australia and the US. Scotty has performed in rock, pop, jazz, blues, country, folk, funk, and classical settings everywhere from backyard weddings to national TV appearances, and from small pub gigs to significant festivals with thousands of people in attendance. And in doing so, he has played with musicians from some of Australia’s biggest bands and shows.
A Few Highlights
There are too many gigs, sessions, and accomplishments to mention here (if they could all be remembered anyway), so let’s pull out a few highlights:
- Opening for the ‘Greats Of Australian Guitar’ shows at Sydney’s famous music club, The
- Basement, in 2002.
- He was the runner-up for ‘Best Original Jazz Composition’ twice, in the national MusicOz songwriting competition.
- He was the runner-up in the ‘Best Arrangement’ category of the same competition one year.
- Being a Final Five finalist in the ‘Australian Guitarist of The Year’ Competition in 2007, as part of the Sydney Guitar Festival.
- Being a finalist in the ‘National Fingerstyle Guitar Championships’ in 2004, held as part of the Frankston International Guitar Festival, in Victoria.
- Playing in front of an estimated 250,000 people as part of the Country Rocks music celebration held on Australia Day at Circular Quay in 2005.
- Playing in front of who knows how many people under the Harbour Bridge on NYE in 2016. It is estimated there were 1 million people in the vicinity.
- In 2019, he played in Kiama as part of the Red Hot Summer tour, featuring Suzie Quatro, Baby Animals, Moving Pictures, Screaming Jets, and The Angels.
Given the above experiences and recognition, he does. Drum Media, in a review of an early CD of Scotty’s, declared ‘this is one guitarist you must see and hear’. Kirk Lorange, the guitarist for Richard Clapton, said this his approach to blues guitar was as ‘authentic as it gets’. Legendary guitarist Phil Emmanuel personally asked Scotty to open for him, after Phil heard his playing. And Australian jazz great George Golla said that his fingerstyle playing was ‘exquisite’.
And he made International news in 2018 with his guitar! Scotty firmly believes in the power of music to change lives for the better. He has volunteered for music therapy programs at St.Vincent and Wollongong Hospitals, performed at Ronald McDonald House, in prisons, homeless shelters, and at his annual Movember events, run in Wollongong.
But the most significant thing he has ever done was play the guitar continuously for 125 hours (that’s five days and 5 hours) for the Musicians Making A Difference Charity, who use music, dance, and mentoring, making the lives of kids in need so much better. In doing so, he set a new world record for longest continuous guitar playing, raised thousands of dollars for the charity, and featured in news stories around the world.
That was pretty damn cool!
In 2020 he had planned to teach the world’s longest guitar lesson to raise money for the Sydney Children’s Hospital. Covid-19 saw those plans put on hold until June 5-6, 2021. Over the course of 25 hours he taught the guitar continuously to 27 different students, beating the previous record of 24 hours and 6 minutes, and more importantly, raising over $4,000 for the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
So, what’s his playing like?
It’s a real mixture. Iconic guitarists Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tommy Emmanuel, Joe Satriani, Kenny Burrell, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Chet Atkins, and Eric Johnson (amongst many others) have all shaped his approach to the instrument and music.
When he performs vocal tunes, Scotty loves the great songwriters from the rock, pop, and folk-blues traditions. His repertoire is heavily influenced by people such as Bob Dylan, Paul Kelly, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Eric Bibb, Midnight Oil, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Steve Kilbey from The Church, and Bruce Springsteen. And like Dylan and Young, Scotty often mixes acoustic guitar with harmonica.
The two aspects of his playing he is most known for are his intricate fingerpicking and improvisational abilities. Scotty’s knowledge of guitar tone also allows him to produce a very polished and multi-faceted sound.
It’s not uncommon for people to tell him his playing sounds like a recording, or to accuse him of miming!
His sense of humour is well-known, and never far away. Scotty has a quick wit and loves a bit of banter with the audience. Some clubs have been happy for him to talk and tell stories as much as he plays, because they can be quite funny and engaging.
At a gig, Scotty wants to connect with others, help them enjoy themselves and whatever company they are in, but also be moved by the music in some way that so it heals them.