It seems unthinkable that something could happen to such a young star. Piotr Grudzinski, my favorite guitarist, passed away earlier this year from heart issues, and it struck me deeply. It has been with me ever since Riverside announced it, and I will forever miss his emotion, spirit, and inspired composition. If you missed it, you are welcome to read my farewell blog to Piotr here.
We don’t really know if Riverside is continuing on long term or not. We do not know their plans to replace Piotr if they do. However, my heart feels like it needs the exercise of trying to find a match, so I hope you’ll bear with me here. I have chosen 10 guitarists that I think could do the job; in their own ways, of course. No one—and I mean no one—will ever be able to bring to Riverside what Piotr is and was. He was more than just the guitarist: He was the very soul of the band. So, here we go.
Adrian Jones of Nine Stones Close
If you’ve followed Nine Stones Close at all, you’d already know that Adrian is capable of incredible emotion and Floydian soundscapes. He can rock like there’s no tomorrow, too. Check out this track from “One Eye of the Sunrise”.
John Mitchell of Frost, Lonely Robot, and It Bites
John is obviously a very busy man, and I’m not sure he’d have the energy to do something like Riverside. However, John’s tone, skill, and sheer feeling all match Piotr’s on various levels. It’d be an amazing combination to see him play alongside the band.
Avec Gwalchmei of Children in Paradise
Avec is ridiculously skilled in Gilmourish style guitars and in writing solos that feel, oh, so good. On Children in Paradise’s most recent album, he showed that he could compose hefty riffs, too, completing what I think is needed for Riverside if they were ever to return to a heavier format. He’s busy with Children in Paradise, though.
Bartosz Socha of Joseph Magazine
We haven’t heard from Joseph Magazine since their 2011 debut “Night of the Red Sky”, which is quite possibly my favorite instrumental album ever. Bart is obviously a progressive metal guitarist, but there is a feeling and a melody in the way he plays that I feel could be an asset to Riverside, especially if they were to go heavier again someday. In fact, he really has that stumbling riff thing down that Piotr used to do back in the Reality Dream Trilogy days. Oh, and he’s from Poland. That’s a plus.
Jason Ducker of The Enid
Jason is such an anomaly to me. The guy has such a soulful style of playing, though rather theatrical at times. However, The Enid barely uses his talent most of the time, even though he is often the bright spot on the album, in addition to their vocalist. Could he do what Piotr did? I’m not so sure, but it’d be fascinating to see him try.
Adam Kaczmarek of Votum
This might seem a little bit obvious, as Votum and Riverside have often been recognized as brothers, or at least cousins once removed. Their style is similar, at least up until Votum’s new record. Adam, for my money, has the soul and tone that just seems, well, Polish, I guess. He would be able to step in where many others could not.
Grzegorz Kot of Corral
Criminally unknown band Corral might have the answer we need. Grzegorz has the right tone and the emotion soaked style that would work without any hitches. He has serious skills that I feel more people need to discover.
Diego Cafolla of Kingcrow
If the 2015 album from Kingcrow showed us anything, it showed us that Diego (and also Ivan) can craft some incredible guitar licks and solos. Diego’s guitars have more edge than would be necessary for Riverside, but his licks are always addictive, the kind that stay in your head like a chorus. He would be a solid addition.
Wiesław Rutka of Arlon
Wiesław hails from Poland, as well, and his band Arlon is another criminally unknown band. Wieslaw really has the soul I’d hope for in a replacement for Piotr. He’s definitely a little older than the rest, but I think he makes up for less energy with plenty of skills and heart.
Bjørn Riis of Airbag
Without a doubt, my top pick is Bjørn Riis. After hearing the new Airbag album and also his 2015 solo album, Bjørn is exactly what I hope for in a new guitarist for Riverside. Whether it’s his epic and soulful solos, his atmospheric touch, or his gravy tone, Bjørn seems like a blood brother to Piotr, and that’s the best I can hope for the future. Piotr will never be equaled, but these guitarists sure can try.