About Alt Guitar Summit

“It has been exciting to watch the Alt Guitar Summit emerge as one of the most interesting and distinguished forums for our instrument on the planet. The work that Joel has done with this festival to showcase the development of the guitar and the expanded role that it has taken in music is a testament to the almost unlimited sonic dimensions the word 'guitar' can invoke in the imagination of musicians and fans alike.”

- Pat Metheny

Vic Juris with Mary Halvorson: 01-19-14 SubCulture (2014 The Alternative Guitar Summit)

Our Mission

The Alternative Guitar Summit, founded in 2010, is a yearly festival of daring, inventive players who emphasize new and unusual approaches to the guitar. The music we present celebrates the guitar’s enormous range and diversity, beyond style or genre.

The AGS seeks to commission new work, whether improvised, notated, or both, and is devoted to promoting new music through education and performance in the New York City metropolitan area and beyond. We specialize in creating opportunities for lesser known, non-commercial musicians.

Lifeforce Arts Inc., a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Joel Harrison in 2013, is the fiscal sponsor for the Alternative Guitar Summit

Board of Advisors: Pat Metheny, Elliott Sharp, Bill Milkowski, Ben Monder, Nels Cline

What Makes our teaching and philosophy different

"I'd rather be a musician than a drummer, an artist than a musician." Max Roach

This is the core of our philosophy: we teach music not just guitar, artistry at its highest level. By putting you face to face with some of the greatest players on earth we challenge you to grow exponentially, to seek your own voice.

We want to improve your time, harmony, groove, composing, band leading skills no matter what your background is. Although many of our teachers focus on jazz we are not a jazz organization. By celebrating the great universe of what the guitar is capable of  we offer you the tools to be a better improvisor and and composer in what ever style you choose.

Much of this work involves fundamental practice tools. But undergirding the fundamentals is a philosophy. Music is sacred. It speaks the passions, pains, and joys of our lives. We want you to discover and express the deepest part of yourself. To do so, ideally, involves being open to ideas and approaches from many viewpoints, cultures, and practices. This openness defines the concerts we present and the teachers we bring to you.

The Resophonic Guitar Orchestra (Joel Harrison, Elliott Sharp, Brandon Ross, James Moore, Will Bernard, and Pete Matthiessen): 03-15-17 National Sawdust (2017 Alternative Guitar Summit)