Wednesday, May 10, 2017


(By Bryan Dumas)

Guest contributor and professional
musician, Bryan Dumas, returns this
year with another of his riveting first-
hand reports from one of the biggest
annual music events in the country.

Playing out this year at the Dallas Market Hall from May 5-7, the 40th Annual Dallas International Guitar Festival was very well attended — possibly the biggest turnout I’ve seen since my first year visiting the event back in 2009. It's really cool to see how the crowd is becoming more diverse each year — more families and more young people.

This year's festival boasted live performances from an array of marquee guitarists, including Ted Nugent, Derek St. Holmes, George Lynch, Gary Hoey, Andy Timmons, Mark Lettieri, Paul Reed Smith, Lance Lopez, Ally Venable, Eric Gales, Boscoe France, Kara Grainger, Redd Volkaert and, as they say  many more. So, let's dive in and check it out!

Miami-based boutique outfit. JamAxe Guitars
Guitar tech Don Opperman shared some
amazing memorabilia from his days
working for legend, Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Sponsored by Category 5 Amps, guitarists Kara Grainger and Ally Venable were both present for much of this year's DIGF — appearing live onstage and at their sponsors' booths. And oh boy, can these ladies sing and play some blues!

Originally from Australia, Kara oozes true Austin-style blues, blended with a sultry, soulful voice power and emotion, for sure. An amazing slide / blues player, Kara has been compared stylistically to Bonnie Raitt.

At just 18, Ally has come a long way since being mentored by Lance Lopez — her playing and singing prove it! Hailing from East Texas, Ally sings and plays well beyond her years, and seeing her perform live again, was a real treat.

Ally Venable (L) and Kara Grainger (R)
DIGF 2017 offered an array
of amazing instruments.
Center pic - Transpecos Guitar Shop  
With four live stages buzzing all day and special concerts being held Friday and Saturday nights, there was much more to do than just milling around, drooling over stuff on the display floor. Speaking of which, the vendors are evolving year by year. I saw fewer “big boys” in 2017, and more startups — boutique-type guitar, amp and pedal builders.

Some of my guitar heroes could be seen wandering around the show floor throughout the weekend. Many of these artists would actually stop by their sponsor / endorser booths for impromptu "mini jams" — giving fans a chance to see them up close and ask gear questions. Ted Nugent spent hours Saturday and Sunday meeting and greeting fans at his booth.

Guitar icon Ted Nugent, spent two
full days meeting and greeting fans.
One of my personal DIGF highlights
was catching Sweet Chaos performing
live on the "Young Guns" stage.
Owned and operated by Jay Anderson, the Minnesota-based JWA Guitars company creates unique, handmade, one-of-a-kind guitar art. Recreating guitars from legendary, iconic paintings, JWA was one of my favorite vendors at this year's event.

My friends at JWA Guitars
really do it right!
The Friday night show at Gas Monkey Live was off the chain. Providing terrific sound and lighting, the venue was excellent. And seeing Lance Lopez, Kara Grainger and Eric Gales all playing together in a new blues supergroup of sorts was fantastic! Simply put, Eric Gales is one of the greatest living guitarists and I love to watch him play. During the jam, veteran guitar man Redd Volkaert schooled the younger cats with blues and country licks full of taste and tone. Back in the day, Redd played with everyone, including the late Merle Haggard

Another DIGF 2017 highlight:
Chillin' with the legendary Derek St. Holmes.
As a dedicated foodie, Dallas is a magical land of incredible cuisines not found in my hometown of Shreveport. It's the benchmark city for two of my fave-o-flaves — BBQ and Mexican. While I'm always seeking out exotic and different world dishes, I still make time to enjoy what Dallas does best.

18th & Vine has a new take on BBQ, and it's not your usual Texas style. More upscale than your typical BBQ joint, they serve Kansas City-inspired meats. Likewise, El Bolero also has a fine dining bent, with a unique collection of entrees from different regions of Mexico — not your standard Tex-Mex, for sure! And I'd be remiss in not mentioning the great java from Oak Lawn Coffee.

For more on my Dallas restaurant finds, as well as great finds from other cities I've visited, download the Zomato app and follow user Bass4food.

El Bolero's Ceviche was superb!
I’ve attended the DIGF eight of the last nine years and it doesn’t get old. Three days just isn’t enough to see and hear all the artists and take in the entire show floor. There so much, it’s sensory overload. This was year 40 for the show, and I truly hope there’s a next generation ready to undertake the huge task of staging this spectacular event. See ya next year!

-Bryan Dumas
(May 2017)

Check out Bryan's
previous DGS features...


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  1. Thanks for the shout-out Bryan!! I'll keep you posted as the "Salvador Dali" acoustic 5-string bass develops!!!

    1. Thanks Jay, I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  2. Great meeting you guys! I can't wait to see what you come up with!