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Tony Cox @ Grange Gardens, Lewes, 11 August 2002

Lewes is a small town somewhere between London and Brighton. It is home to an annual International Guitar Festival, and one of those on the bill this year was South African maestro, Tony Cox.

The setting for the final live event of the festival was the picturesque Grange Gardens. The grass was green, the wind was rustling gently in the trees and the sun was shining in the sky. A near perfect setting for the relaxed sounds that can from the small stage. We were warmed up (or should that be mellowed down) by a Dixie Jazz band for about an hour, then Tony took to the stage.

Judging from the introduction he was given by the festival organiser, he had been well liked in Lewes, both for his laid back amiable character, as well as for the undeniable mastery he has over his guitar. Clearly enjoying himself, he quickly won over the quite large crowd who had gathered on the grass to pass a restful Sunday afternoon. He prefaced each piece with a little story about the tune, and then proceeded to bring those stories vividly to life in the music. You felt you were going down the 'Anthole' with him, or sitting next to the tree full of chattering Indian Mynah's in 'Major Mynah', or hopping playfully around Zimbabwe with the frog that makes the sound 'Kwe Kwe'.

The crowd responded warmly with enthusiastic clapping after each song, and respectful silence during each piece. The set ended with the awesome 'You Asked For It', a piece which to a non-guitar player like me, goes beyond belief as it sounds like there are at least 2 guitars being played at once, and although I've heard this tune a few times, I was still left stunned by it's sheer beauty, and I don't think I was the only one.

It was a wonderful setting for a wonderful afternoon's entertainment. The tranquillity of the garden matched in all respects by the refined and quite frankly exquisite guitar playing of Tony Cox who demonstrated today that he is a world class talent.

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