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THE best lineup of Top Guitar Players Anywhere. Period.

Welcome to the Lord of the Strings website! 

2023 marks our 21st year of bringing you the best in acoustic music!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

A man playing guitar on stage with other musicians.
A man in cowboy hat playing an electric guitar.

Pat Bergeson & Bruce Forman

Guitarist and harmonica player Pat Bergeson has written, toured, and recorded with many of his musical heroes. Beginning at the University of Illinois in his home state, he moved on to New York City and picked up a Jazz Studies degree at William Paterson University. After playing in New York for ten years, he moved to Nashville upon the request of Chet Atkins who heard Pat on a demo tape. Chet invited him to play on his album "Sneakin' Around" with Jerry Reed, and later featured Pat's guitar and compositions on his 1994 releases "Read My Licks" and "Simpatico" with Chet Atkins and Suzy Bogguss. Pat continued to tour and record with Chet for several years, and was named as one of his top twelve favorite guitarists in the Oct. 2001 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine.

A versatile guitarist and harmonica player, Pat's style incorporates jazz, blues, rock and finger style and he is known for his session work with a variety of artists. He has been in the studio with Lyle Lovett, Alison Krauss, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Dolly Parton, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Tommy Emmanuel, Bill Frisell, Martin Taylor, Suzy Bogguss, Chrissie Hynde, Bill Evans, Benny Golson, Joey DeFrancesco, and many others. He has toured with Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Shelby Lynne, Suzy Bogguss and Madeleine Peyroux. Pat has been a teacher and producer, played on many Grammy Award-winning records, and has appeared on many movie soundtracks.

By overwhelming demand, Pat released "Hippy Dance!," a fun, funky, jazz-blues-inflected party record featuring the harmonica and guitar virtuosity of Pat Bergeson along with the tuba stylings of Dan Anderson. The record also features some of Pat's favorite musicians including Jeff Coffin, Steve Shapiro, Jim White, Roger Spencer, Jimmy Wallace, Will Barrow, Charlie Chadwick, Rod McGaha, Roy Agee and Michael Jefry Stevens. Available at CD Baby and iTunes.

Pat released a CD entitled "Country Gentleman - A Tribute To Chet Atkins" featuring super-pickers Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith, Paul Yandell and Jon Randall, as well as Pat's longtime friend, Suzy Bogguss.

Pat Bergeson is currently active in Nashville as a session musician, and touring with Allman Brothers alumni Les Brers featuring Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Otiel Burbridge, Jack Pearson, Marc Quinones, Bruce Katz and Lamar Williams Jr., The Tommy Emmanuel Classics & Christmas Tour with Tommy Emmanuel, John Knowles and Annie Sellick, soul music great, Charles "Wigg" Walker, The Moho Trippers with Annie Sellick, and Annie and the Hot Club, among others.

Bruce Forman  A hectic touring schedule; twenty-one recordings as a leader,  countless sideman recordings including Ray Brown, Bobby Hutcherson, Roger Kellaway; soundtrack performances on three of Clint Eastwood’s distinguished films—most notably Academy Award-winning Million Dollar Baby; raconteur, arranger, acclaimed educator, in residence at USC’s Studio/Jazz Guitar Dept., when does Bruce Forman rest?

Deep immersion in American culture inspires Forman to contribute to the traditions that he draws from. Reunion! (the newest project) revisits the famed Poll Winners sessions with cohorts John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton, playing instruments owned by Barney Kessel, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne; Formanism (his trio project); original works like The Red Guitar; his high-rated podcast, GuitarWank; Cow Bop and the “road challenges” down historic byways like Route 66; JazzMasters Workshop; Junkyard Duo; GrumpsTV (a fifty episode YouTube variety show during the lockdown), the popular ‘first chorus of the day’ series on Instagram…these are only the latest answers to the endless question that underlies Bruce Forman’s creativity.  His music and life reflect every step of his journey, and demonstrate the awareness of an artist who’s very much at home in the world, and at the top of his form.

The Red Guitar is serious one-man theater, incorporating great musical virtuosity and storytelling skills to explore the obsessive demands that music places on its truest followers. Junkyard Duo, scavenging music from the edge of sound, uses an unusual sonic landscape to create a rich and exciting musical palette…hobo chic at it’s most utmost. And though he can shred bebop at blistering tempos with the best of ‘em, he is no urban snob. Cow Bop, Forman’s unique “western bebop” band, hit four separate charts with its CDs, Swingin’ Out West, Route 66, Too Hick for the Room and Cowlifornia Swing. Having won the Route 66 Challenge three times with Cow Bop, he created a linear music festival in 2013, establishing a new paradigm for touring and the use of social media, which included a collaborative mentoring model for young musicians.

Bruce Forman’s life and musical journey provide an American saga that is still in full swing. His Texas origins, his early career in San Francisco and New York, and his years on the road, all contribute to the unique and highly personal vision that he demonstrates today.

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - February 24, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.

A man and woman holding guitars posing for the camera.

Acoustic Eidolon

Fate has a magical way of bringing people together. Take the case of Joe and Hannah, aka Acoustic Eidolon. In 1995, Hannah, a studio cellist, received a call to play on a Boulder ensemble’s record. Hannah listened in amazement as directions to the recording studio told her to turn on a small road near her home, and then turn down her own street past her house!

Little did Hannah know that across the street and three houses away lived Joe, the greatest double-neck guitjo player in the world (OK, the only double-neck guitjo player in the world).

A few years after they met, Joe and Hannah both found themselves between full-time musical engagements. Joe called Hannah, saying he’d always wanted to hear the cello and the guitjo together. He had a feeling the harp-like sound of the guitjo, combined with the warmth of Hannah’s cello, would be beautiful together. So on a snowy day in February 1998, they got together to play for the first time. What happened next was magic. Captivated by the music they created together, Joe and Hannah immediately agreed to clear out their schedules, start rehearsing full-time, and form what would become Acoustic Eidolon.

But, fate wasn’t finished with Hannah and Joe. What started as a musical/business partnership and friendship blossomed into their marriage on October 14, 2001. Hannah and Joe (and sons Zach and Alex) became a family. Joe and Hannah joke that this was a marriage of convenience since they were already together all the time anyway! But, anyone watching them perform can feel the love that draws them together. Their love for one another, and their passion for life, speaks through their music.

Hannah was born in Berkeley, CA but grew up in Champaign, Illinois. She started playing the piano at the age of four, then begged to play the cello at age eight. There wasn’t really a beginning to her love for the cello. The cello’s voice was always a sound she was drawn to.

She grew up in a musical household. Her father played the piano. Her mother was a music instructor, and her sister played the violin. Hannah has many warm memories of musical sessions of piano trios by the fireside, and her bedtime routine was accompanied by Chopin and Liszt and Brahms piano works. Musical genes trace back to her grandparents, Eddie and Margie Alkire, who opened a music business in 1929 and thrived. Margie taught guitar until she was 90! Love of music was simply the way of life.

Hannah studied with Gabriel Magyar of the Hungarian String Quartet, and was classically trained. She took the cello seriously from the start, and played in her school orchestra with her sister Sabina, bluegrass great Alison Krauss and Alison’s brother, Viktor Krauss. She decided early on to keep the cello her passion but not go to music school, although she continued to study and play seriously. At the University of Illinois, she got a degree to teach French, English and Spanish at the high school level, and then taught for 5 years. In 1992, she moved to the Boulder, CO area.

After her arrival in Colorado, Hannah enjoyed performing in the Boulder Bach Festival, Colorado MahlerFest, and in area symphony orchestras. Eager to stretch herself, Hannah moved out of the strictly classical world. She started playing with rock, funk, and alternative groups, performing at various local venues and national events like the South by Southwest festival in Texas. She was also a founding member of the Anasazi String Quartet, whose repertoire included everything from Dvorak to Zepplin, baroque to The Grateful Dead.

Hannah stays active recording, and has been involved in numerous projects to come out of the Rocky Mountain region. It was through her studio work that she met Joe. On that snowy day in February 1998, Hannah had no idea a year later playing her cello with Joe would become her lifeline…literally.

As a Colorado native who grew up near Boulder, Joe was surrounded by not only the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains but also a vibrant acoustic-based music scene. He began playing the acoustic guitar at age 12. By the time he was 14, his dad suggested he take up the 5-string banjo. So instead of learning the latest Led Zeppelin and Beatles songs, he immersed himself in Bill Monroe, Lester Flat, and Earl Scruggs. Joe excelled on the banjo, and won many contests at regional bluegrass festivals by the age of 16. Over the next several years, he was involved in various folk, bluegrass and rock groups based in the Colorado area.

At age 23, he attended the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, CA. There he studied all styles of acoustic and electric guitar and was fortunate enough to study with many of the world’s finest guitar players, such as Robin Ford, Tommy Tedesco, Frank Gambale, the late Howard Roberts and jazz great Joe Pass. During this time he also started experimenting with different ways of stringing the acoustic guitar. One of the ideas was based on stringing the standard 6-string acoustic like a 5-string banjo. This was an idea that Joe’s father suggested years earlier. With this stringing, he discovered that he could play all his same banjo licks, but on the acoustic guitar it created a whole new sound. This was the beginning of the Guitjo.

After graduating GIT, Joe toured the country extensively playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals with the New Christy Minstrels, a popular 1960’s folk group based in Los Angeles. In 1985 he returned home to Colorado to start the group Wind Machine with Steve Mesple. Wind Machine toured for the next 14 years, and released 13 critically-acclaimed recordings. It was during those years that Joe along with help from Steve Mesple developed the the 14-string-double-neck guitjo. It was also during this time period that Joe began to have problems in his right picking hand…. Learn more

During the later Wind Machine years, Joe opened a recording studio and recorded Wind Machine’s last three CDs as well as many other artists in the Rocky Mountain region. Joe closed his commercial studio in 2003 due to the heavy touring/recording schedule of Acoustic Eidolon.

Joe now has a Pro Tools HD3 recording studio in their home where he has produced all of AE’s recordings.

Wind Machine ended its run in the spring of 1998. At that point Joe thought he would take a long-needed break from performing and recording, but fate had a different plan. Enter Hannah.

And as they say, the rest is history.

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - March 23, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.

2017-Black-Market-Trust-Costa-Mesa-Studio-6917-INSTA

BLACK MARKET TRUST

The Black Market Trust are an American Traditional Pop/Vocal Jazz group from Los Angeles who combine the sounds of the legendary American crooners and vocal groups with the fire and energy of Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Consisting of five world class musicians who have traveled the globe recording and performing on the world’s biggest stages and with music’s most renowned artists, The Black Market Trust capitalize on their experience and pedigree to deliver a high energy, crowd pleasing performance filled with some of the best songs ever written.

           The live show features material from The Great American Songbook infused with Django’s romantic and virtuosic flavor.  Add some intricate vocal harmonies, a dash of Rat Pack-style comedy and it’s clear to audiences why The Black Market Trust have quickly earned a reputation as one of the premier live acts performing in music today. Be transported as they meld two distinctly different vibes- one of a gypsy campfire, the other a slick metropolitan nightclub- into a cohesive, stylish sound.

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - April 20, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.

Joscho Stephan Trio

JOSCHO STEPHAN TRIO

Joscho Stephan shapes modern gypsy swing with his playing like no other: With his authentic tone, his harmonic finesse and his sense of rhythm, but above all with his breathtaking solo technique, Stephan has earned himself an outstanding reputation on the international guitar scene. Like no other, he knows how to stand out from the multitude of current Gypsy Swing adaptations by combining Gypsy Swing with Latin, Classical and Rock, in addition to numerous interpretations of the well-known classics of the genre. This is where Stephan’s strength as a creative visionary shines through. The result is a delight for concert audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Joschos YouTube version of “Hey Joe” has now reached 3 million views. His debut album ‘Swinging Strings’ was voted CD of the month in 1999 by Guitar Player magazine.

In 2004, Acoustic Guitar Magazine celebrated Joscho Stephan as the future of gypsy jazz guitar. For the CD “Guitar Heroes” in 2015, Joscho Stephan invited guitar greats like Bireli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg and Tommy Emmanuel. The 2018 production “Paris – Berlin” was released as a limited “Direct to Disc” vinyl, recorded at the legendary Hansa Studios (where David Bowie’s “Heroes” was recorded, among others). In total, 4 of Joscho’s albums have been nominated for the German Record Critics’ Award. In the USA, too, he has thrilled audiences with concerts in Nashville, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and at the legendary Jazz Festival. San Francisco, Detroit, the legendary jazz club Birdland and the Lincoln Center in New York. On the Australian continent, Joscho Stephan has toured with Tommy Emmanuel.

His current trio includes Sven Jungbeck (rhythm guitar) and Volker Kamp (double bass). The trio has been on the road since 2018 and has since played numerous tours and concerts. (e.g. in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Estonia).

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - June 1, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.

Clive Carroll - 2

CLIVE CARROLL

Born in England, Clive began his musical journey in Chelmsford, Essex.  His parents had a taste for American country and old time music and it wasn’t long before Clive was playing in the family band on a homemade banjo.  By his early teens, guitar in hand, Clive was traversing the worlds of soul, pop, funk, and traditional Irish music, balancing his affinity for Slayer with the etudes of Tárrega.
This breadth of musical curiosity was to become one of his strengths; even as a kid Clive was as comfortable accompanying a group of folk singers as he was jamming along to Nirvana, or reading charts on banjo and guitar in theatre orchestra pits. 

Clive went on to earn a 1st Class Honours Degree in Composition and Guitar from the famed Trinity College of Music in London, all the while balancing his classical work with forays into the world of the steel string guitar.  By the time he graduated from Trinity, Clive had not only penned orchestral works,  he had written an album’s worth of solo acoustic guitar music. A chance meeting with English guitar legend John Renbourn proved the catalyst for Clive’s debut album, “Sixth Sense”, which Renbourn deemed “a milestone in the journey of the steel-string guitar”.  He subsequently took Clive on the road with him and the pair toured North America and Europe together, launching Clive’s solo performing career.

Since then he has worked with guitar greats such as John Williams, Tommy Emmanuel, Xuefei Yang, Ralph Towner, D'Gary, and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. He has toured across Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and North America.
To date, Clive has released four solo albums; “Sixth Sense”, “The Red Guitar”, “Life in Colour” and "The Furthest Tree".
Clive has also written, performed, and conducted music for television and film, most notably collaborating with John Renbourn to compose the music for the film “Driving Lessons”, which features Julie Walters and Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame. 

2000 -  “Probably the best and most original young acoustic guitarist/composer in Britain.” -  Acoustic Guitar Magazine USA
2021 - “...arguably the most accomplished fingerstylist in the world today...” - Total Guitar Magazine

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - July 20, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.

Transatlantic Guitar Trio

TRANSATLANTIC GUITAR TRIO

This extraordinary guitar trio features three very different members with very different backgrounds.  Richard Smith is an International Fingerstyle Guitar champion from London England.  He is a soloist and master of just about any and all guitar styles from Chet Atkins to Merle Travis to Jerry Reed to you name it!  Joscho Stephan is from Germany and a true superstar, known the world over for his sensational Django Reinhardt "Gypsy Jazz" style.  Joscho's guitar skills are so special you will be left breathless just watching him.  Rory Hoffman is from North Dakota and a master of many instruments from Guitar to keyboards, accordion, harmonica and all reed instruments.  Rory has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry many times as a soloist and sideman to Ricky Skaggs, Kathy Matea and Kacey Musgraves to name a few.  These three diverse styles  become so harmonious in the music they have created that audiences tend to cheer while watching "note play" bordering on the impossible!

One show only

Mission Viejo Civic Center
SATURDAY - September 21, 2024
​Doors: 6:30 pm
Show: 7:00 pm.