I was invited by Marc Razo, producer of a NY-based guitar-contest-meets-gong-show called Shred For Your Life to compete in the 2010 championship and won! Here is the New York Times coverage of the event:

Ready, Shreddy, Go!

by Andy Gensler

This past Saturday at Webster Hall’s grand ballroom, it all came down to two very different but equally impressive New York City “shredders”: Dylan Brenner, a 15-year old Les Paul-wielding prodigy from Long Island, and Lily Maase, a 27-year old guitarist who splits her time between Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Spanish Harlem. Both had out-rocked opponents in three previous rounds and were now facing off in the finals. Following two blistering 90-second solos, the judges were at an impasse and the audience was in an uproar.

Welcome to the sixth annual Shred for Your Life guitar competition. Part “Gong Show” (the M.C. wore a turban and a grand marshal’s uniform), part “Spinal Tap” (hair farming, turning it to 11, and face contorting are de rigueur), part “American Idol” (the judges, Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio, the meta-rocker Andrew W.K., and Seth Jabour of Les Savy Fav channeled smarter and more hilarious versions of Paula, Randy and Simon), the light-hearted evening featured a dozen real-life Guitar Heroes putting on rousing displays of virtuosity and showmanship.
Lily MaaseCheryl Dunn Lilly Maase rocks out blindfolded.

Shred for Your Life was founded by the musician/artist Marc Razo in 2005 and was originally held around the pool table at Max Fish, the wonderfully divey and arty Lower East Side boîte. Cheryl Dunn, a visual artist who has followed and chronicled the event since its second year, says it “feels like being in a high school gymnasium but with the best talent ever.” (Dunn’s photos and video are featured here). Past winners include members of the bands No Age, Incubus and Skeleton Key. This year was the biggest Shred yet, with sponsorship from Dickies, roughly a thousand people in attendance and fierce competition.
Damian ParisCheryl Dunn 2008 champion, Damian Paris competes to reclaim his title.

The night’s fingerers of fury included the seemingly invincible Damian Paris, 2008’s winner and a guitarist for the Giraffes; the barefoot and paint-splattered Chris Johnston, whose monster licks propelled him through two rounds; and Zack Page, another youngster, whose brilliant, feedback-laced solo was lost on the judges. The semifinal round brought out the awesome “Wheel of Destiny,” a giant “Price-Is-Right”-esque spinning sphere that commands performances like “lightning” (a 20-second solo), “blindfold” and the brutal “gulag” (playing blindfolded with a back-up band).

Brenner and Maase were the wheel’s sole survivors, and the judges were divided between the former’s crisp, straight-up blues-rock solo and the latter’s more experimental rock-jazz fusion riff. After a quick summit, the undecided panel controversially decided to have the guitar slingers trade solos while playing with the backup band. In the end, Maase’s more varied and technically accomplished approach won out, and for the second time in six years, Shred for Your Life crowned a woman champion. Now that’s progressive rock.

See the original article here.
See Teen Vogue’s coverage here.

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