Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Musicians of Anza: Guitarist August Gilliland destined to perform


Last updated 5/17/2018 at 9:30am


Guitarist August Gilliland wears his signature dark sunglasses perched atop his head.

Editor's note: Musicians of Anza is an ongoing feature highlighting talent in the Anza and Aguanga communities. To be featured, send an email to [email protected]

Music and guitar are recurring themes in the life story of August Gilliland. As usual with many musically creative talents, Gilliland realized at a early age he was destined to perform.

"I started playing drums first when I was 12 years old and played all the time," he said. "I took drum lessons from a family friend, and then at age 14, I picked up the guitar and started playing by ear."

He practiced the guitar without the benefit of formal lessons until he met and studied under Matthew Bryant with the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. 

Gilliland easily found work performing alternative rock and metal with a variety of personalities in the Hollywood music scene, such as blues artist Sam Marshall with the Marshall Law Band. He joined the musician's union, gave lessons and did studio and fill-in work.

When he turned 25, Gilliland took a break from music and got a "real job" as a carpenter. But he could not put down his guitar for long and was soon working in cover bands – a 90s tribute group, a funky party band and more.

His versatile style, excellent education and creativity shine in his performances. With experience in genres from hard rock, blues, punk, classic rock to jazz, country, southern rock and even classical, he has a vast repertoire from which to draw. He does not miss a lick, bending smooth sounds from the strings and making it look way too easy.

His musical influences include Derek Trucks, Lynard Skynard, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, U2, Buddy Guy, Alvin Lee, Wilco, Alice In Chains, Led Zeppelin, Rage Against the Machine, The Allman Brothers Band, Audioslave, Jimi Hendrix, Danzig, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, R.E.M., Back Alley Hooligans, The Doors, Peter Sprague, Queen, Katy Tunstall, Incubus and scores of other artists. 

Gilliland moved to Anza at age 30 and found the time to jam with the locals as well as the musical crowd to the west and north. From blues to pop, he worked it all. He experimented further, joining an original band called Nerve 8, hitting the clubs and county fairs. He recorded some albums and joined a Motown tribute band out of Idyllwild called Soul'd Out. He has seen some serious rock -n- roll action in his varied career.

"One of my most exciting gigs was opening for Dick Dale, opening for Foghat and being in the Capitol Records studio with Kid Rock," he said. "I have played a lot of bigger shows opening for bigger bands. The exciting gigs were the ones where 5,000 to 10,000 people are in front of you." 

Today Gilliland has settled down somewhat, focusing on a 40-hour workweek. While occasionally filling in for fellow musicians, he is not in a specific group at the moment, so if you get to see him play, it will be a special treat.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]


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