Q&A Scene: Guitarists’ Special: Phil Manning ~ Bay City Union, CHAIN, Pilgrimage, Manning Keays Band, Matt Taylor Phil Manning Band, solo.

Melbourne Guitar Show

Leading up to the Melbourne Guitar Show, What’s My Scene will be celebrating GUITARISTSStay tuned for our exclusive Q&As, Vintage Guitar Scenes, Snap Scene features, and much much more.

Phil Manning​ answers our questions: 

How long have you been playing guitar? Why did you first start playing guitar?

​I’ve been playing guitar now for 54 years – started when I was 15.

Which guitarist most influenced your playing?

​Originally George Harrison (Beatles) and Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) but before long it became Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix – but Buddy Guy and B.B King fast took over as my biggest electric influences. On the acoustic side they were Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Skip James and lots of the delta style players. I discovered ​Doc Watson when I was in my thirties and he had a huge influence, particularly as far as where my songwriting went.

Describe your favourite guitar.

​I have an original ​issue Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton (1988) with Gold Lace sensor pickups which I love.

Recently I started using the latest Fender Paramount series acoustics for my solo work and the Triple-O model I have is an absolute delight.

How do you prepare for a show?

​Depending what backstage facilities there are I’ll usually run through a few parts of songs to loosen up, but when that’s not possible I have a couple of pieces that serve the same purpose once I’m on stage.​

Which artist/band was/is your favourite to play guitar with?

As a founder member of ‘Chain’​ I still really get a lot of fun out of performing with them. Matt Taylor (Chain’s singer/harp player) and I started playing together in 1967 in the bay City Union and it is still great onstage together.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

​From a good hot curry through to a nice mature camembert for afters​. Funny question!

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.​​

​Years ago I was offered a lift from Canberra to Melbourne ​after a show in a beautiful huge Cadillac, but ended up going in the old station wagon with the rest of the band. The Cadillac crashed near Albury and everyone in it died – I still get chills thinking about it.

What, or who, inspires you?

​All sorts of good music​ lifts my spirits, as does great art, and I listen to lots of Bluegrass and Celtic music. In another lifetime I could been that type of player.

Which song do you wish you wrote the riff for?​ 

Actually, I did write the riff for Chain’s ‘Black ‘n Blue’​ which went to number one in 1971 – it got knocked from the number one position by Daddy Cool’s ‘Eagle Rock’ – now there’s a riff I wouldn’t have minded writing.

If you had unlimited money, what would your dream guitar setup be?

​Am pretty happy with what I’ve got, but a very top Martin OM Vintage would make my acoustic side very happy!​

What’s next for you?

​At the end of August I’ll be doing a series of shows around Australia with Paco Pena, the Grigoryan Brothers, Jim Pennell – I’m the blues side to what will be an exciting guitar event (It is titled ‘Guitarra”)​

What is the best thing about the Melbourne Guitar Show this August?

​I think the sheer diversity of guitar styles and performances mean that there is an incredible amount to interest even the fussiest guitar aficionado.​

What’s your scene?

I prefer a quiet home life nowadays, with my wife and I each having our own small studios – she’s an artist – and apart from when I perform (or when we go off on some exotic holiday somewhere) we’re pretty happy as home bodies.


It was big in 2015, huge in 2016, and today the Australian Music Association has announced the 2017 return of the Melbourne Guitar Show to rock Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6 – and this year, it’ll be bigger than ever.  Proudly presented by Triple M and Australian Musician, the line-up boasts not only an incredible haul of local guitarists, but also massive international artists – UK’s legendary Steve Hackett (Genesis), Canada’s renowned Nick Johnston and UK superstar Alex Hutchings.  

In addition to some killer performances, MGS will also hold a monster exhibition that will feature a gigantic variety of electric and acoustic guitars, effects pedals, amps and more state-of-the-art guitar technology, both home-grown and from around the world.  It will continue to be Australia’s biggest guitar pop-up shop…and that’s not all.  In addition to this, the Melbourne Guitar Show will host information seminars, demonstrations, and live performances from Australia’s most talented guitarists, including: Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles and Bob Spencer with many more to be announced.

This year will be extra special as the Melbourne Guitar Show welcomes UK guitar royalty, namely, the original Genesis guitarist and successful solo artist in his own right, Steve Hackett, in a very special premium ticketed event.  Hackett will be touring Australia for the very first time with his lavish Genesis Revisited tour, playing classic Genesis prog-rock tunes as well as selected material from his 25 solo albums.  For the Melbourne Guitar Show however, in a more eclectic and informal setting, Steve will play an exclusive up close and personal acoustic-based show featuring musical director Roger King on keyboards and woodwind/ brass virtuoso Rob Townshend.  This will be the only Australian performance by the Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio.Genesis, only ever made it to Australia once, in 1986 – years after Steve and singer Peter Gabriel left the band, so Steve is making it up to fans by bringing some Genesis magic to our shores.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for long serving Genesis fans and aficionados of 70s prog-rock.  Steve will also participate in an onstage Q&A session following his guitar show performance. Excited about the upcoming tour, Steve says, “I’m thrilled to bring my Genesis Revisited tour to Australia.  I’ll be playing there for the first time and I’m hugely looking forward to it!  It’ll be great to meet fans and friends, and I know it’s an incredibly beautiful country.  I can’t wait!”

Another star joining the stacked line-up is the Canadian guitar virtuoso Nick Johnston.  Known for his catchy, melody-driven instrumental music Nick has been able to carve out his own unique style within a crowded landscape of instrumental guitarists.  Nick’s playing has attracted sponsorship from massive international brands including Friedman Amps, D’Addario and Schecter Guitars.  Also on board this year, we welcome world-renowned guitarist Alex Hutchings (UK), a modern fusion guitarist par extraordinaire, lauded by many as one of the finest players in the genre.  His international following has exploded in recent years thanks to millions of YouTube views via both his own channel and JamTrackCentral (alongside such contemporaries such as Guthrie Govan, Andy James and Jack Thammerat). Regularly touring around the globe, Alex performs under his own name and as an international demonstrator for BOSS/Roland.

Drawing over 5,500 guitar lovers and enthusiasts to last year’s exhibit, the Melbourne Guitar Show is gearing up for the biggest event yet.  The voice of the Australian music products industry, the Australian Music Association (AMA) will be teaming up with Australianmusician.com.au and presenting sponsors Triple M and Aon to present this year’s guitar-centric weekend.  “We are looking forward to a show this year that builds steadily based on the merit and popularity of the first two and on the presentation of the best people we can find”, says AMA executive officer and MGS organiser, Rob Walker.  Not only will the 2017 MGS provide a hands-on chance to see, hear and play a broad range of the world’s favourite brands, it will also see exhibitors offering great show deals, plus an opportunity to get close to some hand-crafted, locally made instruments and epic guitar and gear collections.  Describing the exciting developments, Rob continues, “We will have more exhibitors this year, as well as bigger stand presentations by many brands.  We are in discussions with an increasing list of players who want to be a part of it, so we are sure this show will provide great value for guitar enthusiasts once again.”

The first artist line up announcement includes: Steve Hackett (UK), Nick Johnston (Canada), Alex Hutchings (UK), Lloyd Spiegel, Nick Charles, Bob Spencer, Shannon Bourne, Lloyd Spiegel, James Ryan and many more to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Melbourne Guitar Show will be held at Caulfield Racecourse on August 5 and 6.  

Tickets are on sale now!

Online ticket prices when pre-ordered:: Adult day pass $20, adult weekend pass $30, family day pass  $35, concession day pass $10, concession weekend pass $15, premium ticket** $40

**Premium tickets include admission to Steve Hackett show – limited tickets available







About Mary Boukouvalas 1593 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.