Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Market Hall / April 20-22
(Guest Post)

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.

Touted as "the original guitar show," the Dallas International Guitar Festival recently celebrated 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.

Bryan Dumas with Teye Guitar
rep Vanessa Nicole.
2012 Warrior booth

The Warrior "Jesus guitar"
presented Bryan with one of
the show's two "wow" moments.
The orange Textone "Big Tex"
bass was one of Bryan's favorites.
"Creativity and innovation is alive and well," Bryan commented 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.

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.

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.

Another one of Bryan's high points of the weekend was meeting Teye, the owner of Austin, Texas' Teye GuitarsWith a "total emphasis on tone and feel," Teye creates work so unique and amazing that it prompted Bryan to call me before he even returned home to Shreveport, Louisiana to rave. Due to his overwhelming enthusiasm, I couldn't quite make out exactly what he was tring to convey other than something about selling a kidney in order to purchase Teye's E Series La India Bass.

Discovering the Teye Guitars
booth made for Bryan's
other "wow" moment.
Dan "Peaches" Carlson delighted
the masses with his unique guitar
stylings during Saturday's festivities.

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!

*Bryan Dumas is the band director at Word of Life Center located in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BACK TO THE '90s (Dynamite Records From a Dopey Decade!)

Dynamite Records
From a Dopey Decade!

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.

BTW, 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 sucked completely. 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.


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.



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, for sure.



These guys deserve praise
for two distinct 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.



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 for me. A fun and unique,
high-energy band that continues to
be too hip for mass consumption.
All I wants is just one
more oatmeal pie!



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



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-meets-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.



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."



More influential than even Nirvana's
NevermindCowboys From Hell was
to the '90s what Van Halen's debut
was to the '70s. Dimebag Darrell's
groundbreaking, drop "D" mega riffs
combined with Vinnie Paul's signature
double-kick 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!



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.



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 ("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, 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: An Excerpt From My Book, "C'MON!"

An Excerpt From
My Book, "C'MON!"

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, C'MON!
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"

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 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.

Marshall Allman as Don
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 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.

Claire Holt as Penny
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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