Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Market Hall / April 20-22
(Guest Post by Bryan Dumas)

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!

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.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BACK TO THE '90s: Ten Dynamite Records from a Dopey Decade!

Ten Dynamite Records
from a Dopey Decade!

From friends and family to my
faithful followers far and wide,
those who know me best are well
aware of my total disdain for the
music created during the 1990s.

In my latest book, C'MON!, I express in great detail my lack of enthusiasm for the 1990s. So why on earth would I want to produce a web feature 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 informed me recently that NONE of my readers (or anyone else for that matter) would have any interest in a retrospective piece about the era (and she liked the '90s). However, I strongly disagreed with her and I've taken her reaction as a personal challenge.

Truth be told, even I now 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.


Bursting with high-energy and lo-fi garage
allure, seemingly cooked up in a meth lab,
this one proves beyond a shadow of a
doubt who owned the nuts in the Cobain
family. During some of the record's quieter
moments, you can almost hear the needle
going into Courtney Love's track-marked
forearm. An authentic collection, to be sure!


If Fastball was channeling The Beatles, it also
can be argued that Barenaked Ladies' sound
was equally derivative of The Beach Boys.
Featuring the chart-busting hit, "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.


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!


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."


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.


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 fabulous records EVER!


Hillbilly / surf music born and bred at a
tractor-pull. Think B-52s-meets-Skynyrd
at a Dick Dale concert. This was a glorious
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!


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.


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.


This Texas trio served up heaping
portions of snappy, well-written,
hooky pop / rock. And this record
comes closer to channeling The Beatles
than any other since Cheap Trick way
back in 1978. Featuring the smash hits,
"The Way" and "Fire Escape," this
is THE quintessential set of the '90s.

Okay, there ya go, friends! I hope you enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane, and I look forward to hearing from readers on this one. So feel free to offer comments or share your own related personal stories.

-Christopher Long
(April 2012)



C'MON! -

Saturday, April 14, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: "Blue Like Jazz"

Blue Like Jazz

Inspired by Donald Miller's
2003 New York Times best-
sellerdirector Steve Taylor
triumphs with Blue Like Jazz.

For starters, there are no mysterious, hunky vampire dudes chasing any beautiful, complicated teenage chicks — not one. There is, however, a guy in a bunny suit pursuing a female carrot. Secondly, there are no werewolves. Aw, c'mon, man! But, 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. Uh, 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. 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 nut 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 be expected to embrace a film that lacks such necessary complexities? Simple. The old fashion way — with a well-written 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 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 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.

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 create entertaining kick ass content that's simply entertaining kick ass content? In the case of Blue Like Jazz, the answer is a resounding YES

-Christopher Long
(April 2012)



C'MON! -