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Thousands of Guitars

Wroclaw, Poland's Guitar World Record Festival Celebrates the Power of "Univibe."



The sound of 8,000 guitarists strumming and riffing along to Jimi Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe" is a life-changing experience.


One of the only places—if not the only place—you can witness such an event is in Wroclaw, Poland every May 1st, where guitarists across the globe converge to celebrate Hendrix and attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Guitar Orchestra.


For more than 20 years, Wroclaw's beautiful Market Square has hosted the annual guitar extravaganza—which has attracted international guitar heroes such as Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Al Di Meola, Jennifer Batten and Tommy Emmanuel to join thousands of strumming fans to charge after the previous record.



But it's not just about breaking a record. It's a moment of shared harmony in a world that is becoming ever more unharmonius.


Polish blues guitarist and festival founder Leszek Cichoński likes to call the atmosphere "univibe," or "uniting vibration of music."


“In 2001, I recorded Thanks Jimi: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, and the response was such that I decided to organize an event to promote Hendrix’s music among young people,” says Cichoński. In fact, most of the festival’s young participants would never have learned about Jimi Hendrix if not for the event. But here in Wroclaw, they not only listen, but perform, and they feel we are all playing together to create this universal vibration. Sometimes, I feel Jimi looks down and takes care of us. I’m also trying to show the power of music to unite us all. So many things seek to separate us these days, but univibe is all about uniting us. Let’s change the world!”


Cichoński even devised a hand sign to spread univibe. Three fingers on the right hand are used to represent hope, faith, and love.


Univibe Believers (left to right)—London-based blues guitarist LeBurn Maddox, the author, Cichonski, and bassist/actor David Price demonstrate the univibe sign at the festival. [Photo by Agata Wladyczka] 


The festival has grown exponentially each year, adding features, stages, seminars, satellite performances and venues, and more. More often than not, a new record is set. I was part of the 2023 festival that busted the record with 7,967 guitar players, and they're looking to best that number on May 1, 2024.


While it's too late to join this year's celebration, mark your calendar for next year. You can travel to Wroclaw to play in person—it's an incredibly gorgeous city populated with extremely nice people—or you can stay home and add your jangle by registering for the "Play Online" feature at https://heyjoe.pl/.


You can also watch this year's festivities here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq-gjDclbXE.


Check Out the 2023 Festival via Drone







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