Guitar sensation adds Latin flavour to Great British R&B Festival

Miguel Montalban
Miguel Montalban

FROM Chile to Colne, virtuoso rock guitarist Miguel Montalban is set to bring a little bit of South America to the Great British & Blues Festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

“I am really excited to be part of the festival,” said Miguel. “There are so many really great acts, it’s going to be amazing.”

Widely regarded as one of the best young guitarists around, Miguel will be performing with his band The Southern Vultures on the Saturday night of the three-day festival on the main stage at Colne Muni.

His music includes references to the likes of Hendrix and Santana but also Mark Knopfler and Dave Gilmour. Miguel’s unique cover of Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing while busking in London has been viewed an astonishing two million times on YouTube.

“The music business likes to put labels on things,” he said. “Different genres are created by the music business to create playlists. But I never wanted to play music like that; I never wanted to just be commercial.

Miguel Montalban
Miguel Montalban

Miguel Montalban

“I just want to feel free with my music and go wherever I want with it and that’s what I do. I can’t just play music in a certain style just because I know it’s popular - for me that would make me feel like a fake.”

Miguel has a unique sound, partly influenced by his background growing up in Chile and also by his early days as a musician being part of the jazz world.

“For me music is about passion and authenticity so coming from Chile has influenced the way I play. There are some Latin American flavours and that’s something I will never get rid of.

“I know where I belong and I feel proud about it. It’s just something really natural that crops up in my music. I don’t really think about it.”

Fans going along to Colne will see Miguel become getting lost in the music in an almost spiritual way.

FM ready to rock Saturday night at Colne

“My playing’s totally different when I have an audience in front of me,” he said. “I don’t play the same way when I’m in a room on my own or just with the band.

“I’m very obsessed about the sound and tone of my guitar and get really excited by it. It can be what is happening in a particular moment, that moment of connection you can see in the eyes of the audience. That’s the point, that’s why we do what we do. It certainly makes you feel that you did something right.”

Miguel is a big fan of British audiences.

“I really love to play to them” he said. “There are a lot of true rockers out there.”

He has also noticed an increasing number of young guitarists coming along to his show.

“Now that’s cool,” he said. “When I see kids coming to my shows I feel like I did when I was their age, going along to watch other guitar players. Time hasn’t changed much in that way which is great.”

Growing up in Chile, Miguel actually studied jazz at school.

He said. “You look at theory and rhythms and that has really influenced the way I play.”

Armed with either his Gibson or Fender Strat - “I love them both” - Miguel conjures up some unique soundscapes.

“Music is all about expression,” he said. “It’s like when you draw and put that first line on the paper. It might not make much sense but then you start to create and add more lines and add in colours and it becomes beautiful.

“When I’m playing, that’s what I’m doing. Every guitar line should have a meaning and be connected to all the other guitar lines. It’s like being on a rollercoaster and you hope that it’s going to create something epic.”

The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, Colne, runs from Friday, August 28 to Sunday, August 28 featuring more than 50 bands and artists. Miguel plays the Muni on Saturday, August 27. For details visit www.colneblueslineup.com