From Lionel Hampton to Madonna, Frank Vignola has played with the greats. Now, the renowned jazz guitarist comes to Center Stage Theater in Scottville, east of Ludington, for a sold-out Northern Michigan event. Find out how he got his start and what the New York Times has to say about him.


Jazz guitarist Frank Vignola. The versatile guitarist has played with artists across the musical spectrum, from Lionel Hampton to Madonna and Mark O’Connor.

How He Got His Start

Vignola’s father played banjo, and when he was a youngster his dad got him a ukulele and a book. He learned chords and his dad taught him the chords to songs. About a year later he got a guitar, and continued to learn songs from records and playing with his father and his father’s friends. By the time he was 13 he was being hired to play rhythm guitar. He continued to play through high school and says he believes learning songs is the best way for people to learn music and music theory.


Jazz, including the Great American Songbook (Berlin, Gershwin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, etc.)

Influences and Inspirations

Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, George Benson, Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Zappa, Andy Summers of the Police, Eddie Van Halen (really!)

Additional Background

As a young adult, Vignola studied at the Cultural Arts Center of Long Island and went on to enjoy an enormous amount of sideman gigs in the 1980s, including recording and touring with the likes of Madonna, Leon Redbone, and Ringo Starr. He came into his own as a leader in 1988 with his famed Hot Club of France tribute, hailed in the New York Times as one of the top ten acts in 1988. It paved the way for the many “hot club” groups that followed. He has performed and/or recorded with Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Queen Latifah, Mark O’Connor and Wynton Marsalis. He has also recorded several instructional and performance DVDs for Mel Bay Records. “Gypsy Jam” features Jimmy Rosenberg and “Favorite Solo’s” features Frank with one of his guitar heroes, Bucky Pizzarelli. Vignola has written 18 guitar instruction books and has recorded several CD-ROM educational products. He continues to give back by offering hundreds of clinics and master classes at universities and colleges throughout the country, including Julliard and Boston University.


“I remember once he (Les Paul) was talking about Pro Tools and its unlimited tracks—‘You can put one note in and Auto-Tune it; there’s nothing you can’t do in there except get a good performance.’” – Frank Vignola

“Frank Vignola has too much fun onstage to be as serious about his music as he obviously is.” – Louisville Music News

“Vignola has demonstrated that he is capable of playing everything from fusion and commercial pop to hard bop, post-bop, and swing.” – The All Music Guide


Center Stage Theater, West Shore Community College in Scottville

Date & Time

Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m.

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Photo(s) by Thomas Hawley, West Shore Community College