Monday, April 22, 2013

Dallas Guitar Show, Part 1

"Music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music."  -Sergei Rachmaninov

Guitar overload in Dallas, a beautiful thing!

FOR A LONG time, my friend and great Quincy guitar player John Hodge has been telling me about the Dallas International Guitar Festival.

"You gotta go," he said. "You've never seen anything like it."

John used to live in Dallas and he's been to many of the previous 36 shows. About two months ago, I finally broke down and agreed to go. I told myself it would be good for the store, good to see some new products, good to get away, blah blah blah.

"I will promise to miss you if you just get you butt out of here," Sheryl said.
A beautiful John Guilford guitar.

So this past weekend, I flew to Dallas and had one of the most incredible weekends of my life. There was so much stuff and I'm trying to process so much information, so I will break this blog up into two parts - the first is about the festival, the second tomorrow is about the music and performances.

I met John Friday night (he'd gone the day before on business) and we stayed just minutes from Market Hall, near downtown Dallas. We got in line at about 9:15 Saturday morning, got right in at 10 am and stayed for 14 hours. Parking was free and we walked maybe two city blocks to the front door.

Market Hall features 140,000 square feet of space, two outdoor stages and three more indoor stages. Think Oakley-Lindsay Center on steroids, and you get the picture. The aisles were wide and there were big crowds, but there were no lines for anything except for beer later Saturday night, plenty of bathrooms, and room to move. The only complaint was the lack of concession areas - there was one small stand, and somebody could make a killing selling barbecue outside, but no big deal. Who needs to eat when you are in guitar heaven?

Most of the billions of guitars were higher end and had tags that said, "Please ask for assistance." But if you were nice enough and the exhibitor had time, you could play almost anything you wanted. A few of the fancier booths even had rooms to play in. 

It's hard to single anybody out. I met John Guilford of Guilford Guitars, who lives near Peoria, Ill. This is a guy who literally builds his guitars by hand in his backyard shop, and someday I'm going to have his guitars inside Second String Music. I played one and about four or five minutes later I stopped because I could have sat there all dang day, the thing sounded so good and played so easily.

The crew at Reverend Guitars were great, as well. Rick Vito plays Reverend and put on an incredible show Saturday, much more on that later. Ken Haas and his wife, Penny, were friendly and down to earth, and now I've decided I want (not need, nobody needs in guitar world) a new Reverend guitar. Again, we will hopefully have Reverend guitars in Second String Music, sooner than later. (When Sheryl can find a way to afford it!)

The Orange booth was interesting and it was good to actually hear some of the higher end amps being played. When I told him how cool the little 20-watt Micro Terror head was, he said, "I'm the only one in the country with one, they are back ordered." He couldn't believe it when I said Second String Music in little old Quincy, Illinois, actually has two of them in stock (we've sold quite a few). And he doesn't know Sheryl Collins Hart, who has a way of getting stuff supposedly on "back order".  She is a miracle worker, you know.
Music everywhere, like these acoustic pickers.

I bought a buffalo hide strap, a guitar holder, grabbed five million free picks (Hodge grabbed 20 million), and right before we left Sunday I broke down and bought an SKB pedalboard. It was 75 percent off retail and has a built-in speaker and can power a 4 x 12 cab, among other features, and I couldn't resist. Somehow it survived the baggage check and I gotta wrap this up and go play with it right now, and use it during guitar lessons, and on stage with the Cheeseburger, of course. (Excited.)

Saturday flew by and the few hours Sunday were a blur, too. Every time I walked around I discovered something new. My head is still spinning, spinning, spinning.

And I haven't even mentioned the music. We'll have more tomorrow about some of the best guitar players I've ever heard, from well-known to local legends.

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