Dallas International Guitar Festival
© April 19, 2010 | The Flash List
Guitarist Jimmy Wallace, one of the festival organizers.
From capos to concerts, the Dallas International Guitar Festival seems to have a bit of everything for those who play music as well as those who just love to hear it. The event showcases hundreds of new, used, and vintage guitars and accessories from manufacturers like Gibson, Peavey, and Marshall, as well as items from individual collectors, local and regional music shops, and nationwide mega retailers like Guitar Center.
Enthusiasts can buy and sell guitars spanning a diverse selection of styles and genres, and can score great deals on guitar-related items such as amps, stomp boxes, strings, hardware, cables, straps, picks, and even replacement amp screen (in case things get a little raucous onstage during a set).
Art Guitars to Guitar Art
Nostalgic collectibles we saw for purchase included an 1840’s Stauffer-style maple acoustic, a 1958 Fender panel tweed amp from Austin Vintage Guitars, and a reasonably priced Saturday Night Fever album signed by John Travolta and all three members of the Bee Gees for sale by the Texas Musicians Museum.
The festival also hosted multiple booths featuring music software, memorabilia, songbooks, jewelry and fashions, leather goods, music magazines, posters, and framed art including some painted onsite by local artist Steve Moya of Moya Art. We also spoke with Michael Kuchar, owner of MK Design from Germantown, Wisconsin, who designs custom fabricated acrylic and wood guitar display cases. Have a special guitar that you’d like the world to see but not touch? Hang it on the wall in one of these fantastic cases which contain a Humistat humidity gauge. Or have a favorite guitar that you’d just like to store in a dust-free zone? These cases have removable fronts with magnetic fasteners that open and close with ease.
After so much shopping and a visit to the Gibson electric guitar trailer where several Les Paul guitars and POD’s were made available for plug-and-play testing, festival visitors could stop by any one of the number of massage chairs placed throughout the building for a quick back rub or foot massage before moving on.
Several clinics were also offered including one we attended that was hosted by Paul Reed Smith, founder of PRS Guitars, in which PRS demonstrator Michael Ault and famed Texas guitarist Bugs Henderson compared the sound of a 1958 Les Paul to new limited edition guitars specially marked for the Dallas International Guitar Festival. And cracking up the crowd with unintentional humor, Bugs was quite serious when he conveyed his thoughts on guitar string gauges by saying, “I just think you should have to work to hit a note. Nothing against 10’s; 10’s are kindergarten strings.”
2010 featured phenomenally talented guitarists such as fourteen-time Grammy Award winner Ricky Skaggs, Journey’s Neal Schon, American hard rock band King’s X, and many, many more. Paying tribute to the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dallas based band Petty Theft hit the Peavey stage on Friday night led by vocalist Mike Rhyner, who also hosts Dallas’ afternoon drive sports radio talk show for 1310 The Ticket.
Saturday afternoon performers included Lone Star 92.5 radio personalities Bo Roberts and Long Jim White along with their Frontal Lobotomy Boogie Band; and before the rain blew through, entertainer Rick Derringer was able to squeeze in tunes like his 1965 number one hit “Hang on Sloopy” as well as a crowd-pumping rendition of “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” which eventually proved to be a mere warm up for his impressive closing guitar solo. The Saturday evening All-Star Jam session featured some of the most gifted guitarists in the music industry, many of whom have been playing for decades.
And there are certainly no worries about more rock ‘n’ roll in years to come - the School of Rock is pumping out the next generation of pint sized rockers like the future of music depends on them. Amidst a group of tomorrow’s Janis Joplins and Jimi Hendrixes, one kid bounded onto the stage, leg kicking, head banging, hair swaying, arm in the air, engaging the crowd and belting out a tune that we can’t even identify because we were too busy thinking, “What are you - like eight years old!?!”
After the young, rambunctious group left the stage and slapped congratulatory high fives, guitarist George Lynch (formerly with Dokken) cranked out guitar licks that would just not quit (literally and figuratively) with ‘cool rocker’ cigarette smoke puffing for so long that the accumulated ashes just eventually fell to the floor. The enamored crowd shouted out requests which George along with Jimmy Wallace and The Stratoblasters did their impromptu best to accommodate.
The festival concert scene (which seamlessly moved indoors due to rain) felt like an intimate set that you might hear in your favorite bar (only loud enough to make the neighbors complain), and the crowd seemed content to stay all day as the riffs continued from Bugs Henderson who sang and played with bluesy grit like he didn’t care if anyone was listening or not.
The headlining closer for the 2010 Dallas International Guitar Festival was the renowned “Motor City Madman” Ted Nugent who rolled into Dallas like a freight train and was decked out in camouflage (including his guitar) and an army green ball cap that read “US Border Patrol”, which seemed apropos - he's now a Texas resident, after all. The 61-year-old singer and guitarist, who is apparently still attracting groupies that were trying to press their way past security, played to an extremely enthusiastic crowd that was quite brightly lit by cell phone camera light.
Though we’d love to convey to you the shockingly unique atmosphere created by this iconic rock star who introduced himself as “Ted f***ing Nugent”, we can’t repeat most of what he said. Suffice it to say that his conversation was not short on outspoken and controversial political commentary, talk of guns, and a brief discussion on ‘beaver trapping’.
By the time Sunday afternoon's set rolled around, the weekend’s guitar legends had evidently rocked so hard that the electricity to the stage lights went out. After finishing his song, Ted stood on the darkened stage good-naturedly shouting “Turn the f****ing lights back on! … What is this? A hippie thing?”
But hey, as Rob Lowe’s character Billy so eloquently stated in the 1985 movie St. Elmo’s Fire, “It ain't a party till something gets broken.”
And a party it definitely was. In less than ten minutes, the stage lights were back on with Ted busy rocking away to “Cat Scratch Fever”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Stranglehold”, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”, and more featuring guest performances by Bugs Henderson, Ted’s own Derek St. Holmes, and Paul Reed Smith, who the Nuge thanked for “bringing a PA system with some scrotum”.
So thank you, Uncle Ted; and yes, “God Bless America”. What a way to close out the weekend - with music to vibrate our spleen to.
Know Before You Go
DIGF is a swap meet, so feel free to bring any guitar-related items that’d you’d like to try to sell. Many patrons were buying and selling from exhibitors and vendors, but we even saw two that were negotiating a trade between themselves.
Since the big-name performers we saw played with full-on fervent effort, purchasing a VIP upgrade ticket for seating at the main concerts is absolutely worth it. Arrive early though; those front rows of seats can fill up quickly.
The Exhibit Hall may close before main evening concerts begin in order that everyone may attend, so be sure to check for correct times.
Market Hall offers optional valet parking at the front door and plenty of free lot parking.
Blue jeans and black rocker t’s are not mandatory, but you certainly won’t be out of place if you wear them. And if you don’t have a black t-shirt, don’t worry - there are plenty of opportunities to buy them there including your chance to get a commemorative Dallas International Guitar Festival shirt.
For more information, contact: