Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 DALLAS INTERNATIONAL GUITAR FESTIVAL (Guest Post)

Market Hall / April 20-22, 2012
The year was 1978 and Dallas guitar shop owner, Charley Wirz, had a vision — to establish a vintage guitar  expo similar to other popular collectors shows. That first event — the Greater Southwest Vintage Guitar Show — was only a modest success. However, Charley remained steadfast in his mission to promote and develop the event until his death in 1985.

In recent years, promoters Mark Pollock and Jimmy Wallace have partnered in carrying out Charley's vision of bringing guitar dealers, manufacturers, collectors, celebrities and music fans together for this annual event (currently known as the Dallas International Guitar Festival) that now attracts over 20,000 enthusiasts.

Honorary "Show Biz Guru" correspondent Bryan Dumas
with Teye Guitar rep Vanessa Nicole.
Touted as "the original guitar
Guitar Festival recently cele- 
brated its 35th anniversary.
Although I personally was
unable to attend the shindig,
my longtime friend, seasoned
music pro, Bryan Dumas did
make it. And since he still
owes me $25 from back in
high school, he "agreed" to
assume the responsibility of
serving as honorary  "Show
Biz  Guru" correspondent
and share some of his
 photos and observations.


The 2012 Warrior booth.

"Creativity and innovation is
alive and well," Bryan com-
mented during our phone
conversation immediately
following the show. And
among the estimated 20,000 attendees, he also noticed a
larger than usual number
of young people and female
enthusiasts at this year's
event. "They weren't
merely wives, girlfriends
or product spokes-models;
they were fans," he added.
 
 
One of Bryan's favorite hangouts was the Warrior Instruments booth. Creating custom, hand-crafted electric guitars and basses, the Georgia-based company's endorsees include legendary guitarist Rick Derringer and the Ft. Worth, Texas "outlaw southern rocker" Glitter Rose. 
 
The Warrior "Jesus guitar" presented Bryan
with one of two show-related "wow" moments.
Offering incredible, national and regional live music has been a longstanding Guitar Fest tradition.  Among Bryan's favorite 2012 performances were sets by blues singer and songwriter Carolyn Wonderland, Jonny Hiland, Eric Johnson's Hendrix tribute, The Bart Walker Band, Rick Derringer and the pre-teen combo, School of Rock.

Texas native, Carolyn Wonderland

Award-winning blues combo, The Bart Walker Band

Glitter Rose -- One girl, one guitar, one hot set.

Rick Derringer -- "Still Alive and Well!"

Bryan raved about the School of Rock performance.
 
Discovering the Teye Guitars booth
made for Bryan's other "wow" moment.
 
 Another one of Bryan's high
points of the weekend was
meeting Teye, the owner of
Austin, Texas' Teye Guitars
With a "total emphasis on
tone and feel," Teye creates
work so unique and amazing
that it prompted Bryan to
call me before he even re-
turned home to Shreveport,
Louisiana to rave. Due to
his overwhelming enthu-
siasm, I couldn't quite make
out exactly what he was try-
ing to convey other than
something about selling a
kidney in order to purchase
Teye's E Series La India Bass.



The orange Textone "Big Tex"
bass was one of Bryan's favorites.

Dan "Peaches" Carlson delighted the masses with his
unique guitar stylings during Saturday's festivities.


Honorary "Show Biz Guru" correspondent
Bryan Dumas with rock guitar legend
Rick Derringer.
General Observations:
  • Musicians smoke more than the average person.
  • Considering what you pay for admission, this is one of the best bargains in America.
  • For the most part, music people are awesome — if you can overlook the F-bombs.
  • The time-tested jeans and black T-shirt combo is still the acknowledged rock and roll uniform.
  • The Dallas Renaissance Hotel is awesome!

Thanks for sharing, Bryan — job well done!

*Bryan Dumas is the band director
at Word of Life Center located in
Shreveport, Louisiana.
__________________________________________________________
 
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Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com
__________________________________________________________

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BACK TO THE '90s

 BACK TO THE '90s  
 
Me and Michelle – just moments
before she informed me that
this is a sucky blog topic.
In my latest book, C'MON! - My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation, I express in great detail my  total disdain for the 1990s. So why on earth would I want to embark on a potential  long term blog series dedicated to a decade that I perceive as representing doom, despair, death, darkness and disaster? Well, for starters, the '90s were now so long ago that a  semi-lighthearted overview  just might prove to be cathartic. Also, I realize that those days weren't nearly as traumatic for everyone else. In fact, some people actually loved the '90s — and I get that. But, my girlfriend Michelle  informed me recently that  NONE of my readers (or  anyone else for that matter) would have any interest in a retrospective blog series about the 1990s (and she liked the '90s). However, I strongly disagreed with Michelle and I've taken her reaction as a personal challenge. If I'm right on this one, we'll be waxing nostalgic via various posts in the weeks to come about all things '90s.  If Michelle is right, well, this will be a very short series.
 
Hey, whatever happened to all of those amazing bands that were going to forever shape, mold and define world culture? You know — those crappy, hookless '90s bands that seemingly exterminated the hair band scene overnight. Remember? MTV VJs Matt Pinfield and Dave Kendall swore that those bands were here to stay. Hey, did you see that new guy working the graveyard shift at Speed-E-Mart? I heard that he used to be in the band, Pavement.

Anyway, even I can recognize that not all '90s rock completely sucked. In fact, a few records from that era were actually quite good. And after considerable soul searching, I've even been able to amass my personal Top Ten favorites from the 1990s. Some of these releases were hugely successful. Some of them tanked. Some of the artists have become iconic. Others never even made it onto rock's radar screen. Some are fun and poppy. Others are dark and heavy. But I personally ga-ron-tee that each of these albums is supremely awesome — despite having the dubious distinction of being released  during an otherwise crappy decade.

#1
(1998)
The Texas trio served up heaping portions
of snappy, well-written and hooky pop/rock.
This record comes closer to channeling
The Beatles than any other since Cheap Trick's
Heaven Tonight back in '78. Featuring the hits,
"The Way" and "Fire Escape," this is THE
quintessential record of the '90s.

 


#2
(1992)
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Life, Sex and
Death successfully combined arena rock melodies
with hard-driving, grungy guitar riffs (and an
offensive-smelling homeless frontman) to create
one of rock's most unique bands and one of the
'90s greatest records. An Amazon customer
 reviewer referred to LSD as "the greatest
band you never heard." A spot-on observation.




 
#3
(1995)
These guys deserve praise for two reasons:
A) They're from Seattle and they DON'T suck!
B) "Santa Monica" is just about the coolest,
most rockin' track of any decade.



#4
(1995)
Hillbilly/surf music born and bred at a tractor-pull.
Think B-52s-meets-Skynyrd at a Dick Dale concert.
This was a powerful life-changing record. A fun
and unique, high-energy band that continues to be
just too hip for mass consumption. All I wants is
just one more oatmeal pie!




#5
(1992)
Johnny Depp's longtime actress/model girlfriend 
teamed up with producer Lenny Kravitz when she 
was just a wee lass to create this ultimate retro-
sounding pop record. Imagine if Karen Carpenter 
was smacked-out and made a record with Smokey
Robinson in 1967. One of the best records EVER!

 


#6
(1995)
At some point, somewhere between being
garage/ska/punks and becoming an over-produced
airbrushed name brand, this So-Cal combo knocked 
out a classic —  at a time when I really needed a new
crunchy pop record from a fun band with catchy 
hooks, big guitars, a sexy, yet skanky chick singer
with a dot on her forehead and a drummer with 
no pants. Tragic Kingdom featured numerous 
hits and currently has sold over 89 billion copies.




#7
(1991)
Although this Florida-based quartet would
discover gold with their 1992 sophomore effort,
their masterpiece debut went relatively unnoticed.
Psychedelic glam / grunge / pop at its best. While
"What You Say" and "What Do You Do" are
both hard-hitting earworms, "Come Take Me
Now" defines "brilliant."




#8
(1990)
More influential than even Nirvana's Nevermind,
Cowboys From Hell was to the '90s what Van 
Halen's debut was to the '70s. Dimebag Darrell's
groundbreaking monster drop "D" riffs  combined 
with  Vinnie Paul's thunderous signature double-kick
drum style  and  Phil Anselmo's distinctive scream-o vocals made for a perfect chemistry in which
to create a ferocious, high-octane classic.
Often imitated, never duplicated. Sledge!





#9
(1998)
If Fastball was channeling The Beatles, it can
also be said that Barenaked Ladies' sound was
equally reminiscent of Brian Wilson. Featuring
the chart-busting single, "One Week," Stunt
became a platinum-selling smash and took 
the band from Canadian cult status to
international headliners. Wonderful, well-
crafted, occasionally smart-ass pop songs.



#10
(1994)
This one proves beyond a shadow of a doubt who 
wore the nuts in the Cobain family. High-energy,
low-fi garage rock, cooked up in a meth lab (see
"Miss World"). Generally speaking, the musicianship
on this record barely measures up to a second
grade level and during some of the quieter moments,
you can almost hear the needle going into
Courtney Love's track-marked forearm.
Oh man, how I used to love this record!



I look forward to hearing from readers on this one. So feel free to offer comments or share your own related personal stories. There were some interesting books and movies and such from those days that might be fun to revisit — that is, if I'm right about this one. If there's interest, we can milk this goat for some time. However, if Michelle's instincts are on-point and nobody cares about the '90s anymore, well, I guess we can talk about something else. I've recently collected several interesting facts and photos regarding artichokes that might make for a compelling series.

-Christopher Long
(April 2012)

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Monday, April 16, 2012

DISCOVERING BUSH

_______________________________

With the presidential
election season in high
gear, I thought it would
be perfect timing to
share a related and fun 
sample from my book,
This excerpt, entitled
"Hail to the Chief," is
from CHAPTER FOUR.
I hope you enjoy!
________________________________ 


During the 11th grade I was playing drums for my high school song and dance troupe called The Ten Tones. Our well-groomed, wholesome-looking group performed choreographed dance routines as we sang standards and show tunes. Certainly not very “rock and roll” to be sure, but the act was a huge hit on the local elementary school and retirement home circuit. Due to our frequent daytime performance schedule, Ten Tones members were often afforded a certain perk that not even many of the cool kids were privileged to receive — the coveted “Off Campus Pass.”

In February 1980 The Ten Tones were invited to perform at a political rally being held on Melbourne’s F.I.T college campus. This was during the presidential primary season and the man who was scheduled to speak at the event was the one-time Texas congressman and former CIA director and Republican presidential candidate, George H.W. Bush. Despite my teenage political interest and Bush’s undeniable experience and qualifications, I was somewhat unfamiliar with him at the time. However, Bush had narrowly beaten perceived Republican front-runner, former actor and California governor Ronald Reagan in the recent Iowa caucus.

Consequently, I was extremely interested in what he had to say. So I remained at the rally following the Ten Tones performance. The other group members made a beeline to the nearby McDonald’s for lunch to discuss how they could best take advantage of their remaining off campus experience.

Although I followed politics more closely than most kids my age, at 17 I had no firm political party affiliation. However, as I sat in the audience absorbing every word of Bush’s speech, I soon realized with great certainty for the first time in my life which side of the political fence I was on — the “right” side! 

After 30 years, I can’t recall any specifics of Bush’s speech, but I do remember feeling inspired by his words. In fact, as he left the stage following his speech, I felt compelled to thank him. So I fought my way through the sea of supporters, cameramen and news reporters that surrounded him as he was leaving the building. “I enjoyed your speech, Mr. Bush,” I announced as I reached out to shake his hand. With my shoulder-length hair and tinted glasses, Bush initially appeared somewhat taken aback when I approached him. However, he quickly seemed to recognize my sincerity. “Thank you," he replied with great enthusiasm as he shook my hand. “I need the support of America’s youth in this campaign,” he further added while still shaking my hand. “I’m with you sir,” I assured him as I noticed he wasn’t letting go. In fact, he had what I can only describe as a death grip on my right hand! After exchanging a few more pleasantries, he finally let go and I went on my way.

What I remember most vividly about my brief Bush encounter was that he didn’t seem merely to be taking advantage of a potential photo opportunity. He genuinely seemed to care — not only that I had been inspired by his speech but that he honestly seemed concerned about my generation. It was a powerful life-changing experience.

<>

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: "Blue Like Jazz"


Inspired by
Donald Miller's
New York Times
best-seller, director
Steve Taylor 
triumphs with
Blue Like Jazz...
despite a few flaws.
 
______________________
 


For starters, there are no mysterious,  hunky vampire dudes chasing any beautiful, complicated teenage chicks — not one. There is a guy in a bunny suit pursuing a female carrot, but that's not terribly edgy, right? Secondly, there are no werewolves. Aw, c'mon, man! However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that there is a mean guy wearing a bear suit who steals a bicycle. Hmm, conflict — now we're getting somewhere. But wait. This movie doesn't even have a swashbuckling pirate. Dude, you gotta be kidding me! Yes, it is true that one of the main characters does wear a Pope suit, but that doesn't compare to ol' Captain Jack... does it? And there's no sex either. Oh sure, the cutie who squats to pee for half a second in the men's room is a kind of hot visual, but that's it. In fact, at no time during Blue Like Jazz does anybody even get punched in the sack. There are no wizards, witches or warlocks and NO children are murdered — not by other children or anyone else for that matter. 

So how on earth can today's sophisticated YA movie audience embrace a film that lacks such necessary complexities? Simple. The old fashion way — with a well-written, quality story, compelling characters, a talented cast and — close to no budget.

Marshall Allman as Don
Marshall Allman plays the role of Don, a 19-year-old, "Kool-Aid-drinking" Texan who is delivered from his brainwashing Baptist environment by his deadbeat father via a surprise paid enrollment at a legitimate liberal Pacific West college. Upon arriving at the university, Don begins to experience a life quite different from the one he once led. Along the way, he meets fascinating new people and starts to question the values taught during his proper Christian upbringing.
 
And therein lies the beauty and power of Blue Like Jazz — despite an obvious spiritual message, the film doesn't preach or condemn — it simply entertains. Oh sure, it would be so typical for those self-righteous Christian hypocrites to produce a movie to further their homophobic, bigoted, racist agenda, right? Sorry to disappoint you, but that's just not the case with Blue Like Jazz. In fact, despite numerous depictions of out-of-control partying and civil disobedience, a message of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and understanding flows throughout the film as even a book-burning, God-hater in a Pope suit played by Justin Welborn is portrayed as an endearing and likable guy.

Claire Holt as Penny
Claire Holt delivers a wonderful performance as Penny, the ever-cause-conscious Christian,  as does Tania Raymonde in the role of  Lauryn, the acknowledged campus lesbian. Oddly, neither character is vilified or judged.

A critic writing for a major newspaper commented in his opening day review that although he found Blue Like Jazz to be entertaining, he doubted that the movie would succeed in converting anyone. I did  considerable pre-release research on  Blue Like Jazz and I don't recall anybody involved with the film ever saying anything about converting anybody! Gee whiz, can't us Christian wackos just make an entertaining kick ass flick that's simply just an entertaining kick ass flick? In the case of Blue Like Jazz, the answer is a resounding YES!

                                                           -Christopher Long
                                                           (April 2012)
 

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is available NOW on Amazon.
 
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