Guy Buttery

“Becoming a guitarist was completely involuntary,” says virtuoso guitarist Guy Buttery. “I first picked up a guitar at 10, started performing at 16, and I’ve pretty much been touring ever since.” Genially serene, he resembles a San Francisco drifter circa 1971 — but his music is utterly contemporary and South African.

Buttery grew up on Durban’s North Coast, where he imbibed a spicy sonic soup of maskanda, Indian classical music and his brother’s Led Zeppelin records, later absorbing the finger-picking brilliance of Steve Newman, Tony Cox, Madala Kunene and Nibs van der Spuy.

Nowadays Buttery is threatening to outshine all of those masters. His compelling interpretation of Joanna Newsom’s The Book of Right On was the best thing on the compilation Versions of Joanna, and his global audience is growing fast. In February next year he releases a collaborative album with Nibs van der Spuy, but local fans jonesing for more of his magic can grab a live hit at this year’s Grahamstown Arts Festival.

— Carlos Amato