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Guitarist, illustrator offer Wine Country history view

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Guitarist, illustrator offer Wine Country history view

Guitarist Brian Gore.

Photo contributed/

POSTED April 23, 2017 8:35 p.m.

LIVERMORE — In a perfect pairing of music and art at the Bankhead Theater, acoustic guitarist Brian Gore and renowned illustrator Bill Russell bring to life the beauty of California’s Wine Country, including Livermore’s own rich history. Gore, who has performed multiple times at the Bankhead Theater as founder of International Guitar Night, evokes stories and moods with his music as Russell creates a feast for the eyes using a myriad of visual styles. 

Together, they will express a virtual sense of place in “Wine Country Tales” on Friday evening, May 5. Their performance falls the night before Livermore’s Wine Country Downtown Street Fest, a celebration of regional wine, local brews, arts, crafts and other entertainment. Tickets for “Wine Country Tales” at the Bankhead are just $30 each, with $16 tickets for students and active military. 

The Bankhead Theater ticket office at 2400 First Street in Livermore is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. On performance days the ticket office is open from two hours before to 30 minutes after the scheduled start of each show.  Tickets are also available by calling (925) 373-6800, or online at

Livermore’s Wine Country Downtown Street Fest will be held May 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and May 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The two-day event will include wine and beer tasting, outdoor dining, boutique shopping, arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment and a family fun zone.

Known as a “poet of the guitar,” Gore’s compositions take the listener on spellbinding rides through stories, places and moods. Russell uses his remarkable skill for visual reportage to create a sense of place, transforming Gore’s music into a feast for the eyes with still life landscapes, animation, and live digital drawing. The narratives for “Wine Country Tales” can be largely understood without words, although some explanation of their process and the context for the stories, historical events and landmarks will be provided throughout. 

While Gore and Russell have been friends for decades and have always had tremendous respect for each other’s art, the two only began working on this project together a few years ago. Their first collaboration was on stories associated with the central California coast. They then migrated inland, exploring the history of Napa and Sonoma’s wine county. They have released two CDs, “Santa Cruz in Song and Image” and “Wine Country Tales: Napa and Sonoma.” 

An illustrator, visual journalist, educator and designer, Russell’s work has been published in national magazines and books, including three novels by Stephen King. As a visual journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, he created the popular weekly “Bay Folk Sketchbook,” featuring the Bay Area’s many unique locations and colorful personalities. A resident of Marin, Russell serves as an Adjunct Professor of Illustration at the California College of Arts. He continues to push the creative envelope, incorporating a variety of new multimedia technologies in his work.

Considered one of the most influential performers in fingerstyle guitar, Gore is known for his strikingly beautiful tone and dynamics and for innovative compositions which draw inspiration from myth and modern literature. He has released two CDs and his music has been featured on NPR’s nationally syndicated Echoes Radio. International Guitar Night, founded in 1995, has evolved into acclaimed annual tours throughout North America and the United Kingdom. 

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