The 41ST Annual Dallas International Guitar Festival was held on May 4, 5 & 6, 2018 at Market Hall in Dallas, TX with three stages of continuous live music. This included local and international touring artists covering a variety of musical genres. With over 50 bands scheduled it was astonishing the lights didn’t go out all over the city! Jimmy Wallace, owner of the Dallas International Guitar Festival and Jimmy Wallace Guitars turned up the volume higher than ever before by securing musicians who performed prodigious feats for a rapt audience.
ERIC JOHNSON, guitar virtuoso extraordinaire who is currently on his Ah Via Musicom Anniversary Tour was this years main headliner performing Saturday night on The Bomb Factory stage.
Music enthusiasts showed up in droves including every musician in DFW who didn’t have a gig to witness the brilliance of their instrumental guitar hero and the crowd was amped up waiting for Johnson to plug in. A sign with the guitarist’s signature was displayed in the background on stage as he played a diverse assortment of rock music off a plethora of albums: Tones, Venus Isle, Austin City Limits Live and his newest disc released in 2017, Collage.
Taking the stage with an ironclad rhythm section of Kyle Brock (bassist) and Tommy Taylor (drummer) Johnson kicked off with several instrumental tunes and incorporated his vocals on others. Selected material included “Stratagem”, “S.R.V.”, and “Pipeline” a surf rock classic song originally covered by The Chantays.
Watching him play while his lightning fast fingers glide up and down his fretboard and soloing with great finesse giving each piece a melodic feel is absolutely mesmerizing! Pushing the boundaries with his technical prowess reiterates he is indisputably a musical genius! The audience cheered him on after every song and his dynamic rhythm section was like dynamite erupting onstage. Surpassing the definition of “talented” long ago, he’s the epitome of beyond gifted and one of, if not the BEST instrumentalists in the music industry today! For his encore Eric Johnson performed Ah Via Musicom from his 1990 album of the same name. I always say “Let the music do the talking” and Eric Johnson did just that with an electrifying performance! The adoring crowd rightfully agreed as they reciprocated by whistling, yelling and giving him a standing ovation!
IAN MOORE, the super soul-oriented musicologist took center stage at 5:30 pm performing to an audience of longtime admirers who were psyched up, including yours truly! The backdrop on stage was a huge Flying V Guitar logo with wings and the inscription read 41st Dallas International Guitar Festival Market Hall with logos of major sponsors Canton Hall, Trees Dallas, and The Bomb Factory. Surrounded by an entourage of musicians Moore’s tour band consists of Chris Gebhard (keys/guitar), Ben Jarrad (bass) and Travis Foster (drums). He is definitely not your typical guitarist, singer and songwriter. His musical style and lyrical language is complex and interchangeable falling into an unconventional category that has no restraints.
He played old and new songs from his discography, opening with “Strange Days” off the album of the same name, “Hercules” by Aaron Neville, and “Muddy Jesus” off of Modern Day Folklore before laying down his hit song “How Does It Feel” from his 1993 debut album Ian Moore. The audience applauded loudly craving for more. His blaring guitar sounded awesome and so did his band as he played screaming solos with fret scorching riffs.
Fans were digging his indomitable spiritual vibe that radiates through the connection he has with the listeners. Performing only two songs from his latest album Toronto (which I’ve been listening to nonstop) he did “You Gotta Know My Name” which has a psychedelic feel to it and “Rock N Roll” (my new favorite song).
Digging deep into the archives again from his eponymous debut album he performed numerous hits “Satisfied”, “Nothing” and “Harlem” stating this song always reminds him of Ice Cube who directed the video on this track. He forged on with “Champagne And Reefer” by Muddy Waters. Moore addressed the crowd by saying “If you don’t know some Freddie King you’re not a guitar player from Texas”!
He proceeded to dedicate “Me And My Guitar” by Freddie King to Jimmy Wallace. After a stellar 75 minute set he shut it down by ending with his soul moving hit “Blue Sky”. Prior to the downbeat, faithful fans were curious what Ian Moore would bring to the table and with a mixture of the right ingredients he served a full course tastefully, however he still left us hungry for “MOORE”!
BUDDY WHITTINGTON is a living legend guitarist, singer-songwriter and a true Texas bluesman with an expansive discography. A pinnacle in his career, he is widely known for touring with John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers for 15 years. His band of top notch musicians includes Mouse Mays (guitar/vocals ), Wayne Six (bass) and Mike Gage (drummer).
Carrying out an ardent performance of rocking blues his set included “I Had To Go See Alice” off his Six String Sevengali album, “Second Banana”, “Fender Champ” and “Too Much Of A Good Thing”. He also blasted songs by fellow Texas elite musicians including “Love Junkie” by the late great Bugs Henderson, and several by ZZ Top “Neighbor Neighbor” and “Shakin’ Your Tree”.
Prior to performing hit song “Louisiana Cockfight” written by John Nitzinger, Whittington asked the fans to please keep Nitzinger in prayer as he deals with health issues. Whittington’s vocals were smooth and he played effortlessly, demonstrating squeaky clean guitar solos with soaring riffs.The crowd was in awe as they clapped and cheered him on. Showing his versatility he also included snippets of Led Zeppelin hits and Freddie King’s “Sen-Say-Shun”, “Sidetracked”, and “The Stumble”. Mays did an excellent job singing “Louisiana Blues” by Muddy Waters. Whittington closed his set with “Oh Well” by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Whittington and his band are extremely tight and hands down one of the BEST in the metroplex!
ROCKY ATHAS, the “Texas Tornado” rocked the blues promoting his new album Shakin’ The Dust. Athas toured as lead guitarist for John Mayall for eight years, and everyone was eager to see this homegrown boy grace the stage in Texas once again with his new band. Joining Athas onstage he proudly introduced his son Rocky Athas II (bass), Walter Watson (drums/vocals) and his son Jared Watson (rhythm guitar).
The set began with Watson (drummer) singing the first two songs, starting with “Sanity” off The Essential Rocky Athas Volume II album and continued on with new material “You Pushed Me Too Far”, “Villanova Junction”, “Texas Girl” where he paid tribute to the late great Smokin’ Joe Kubek and played a killer guitar solo!
“Need Your Love So Bad” and “Looking Back”. The guitar slinger wailed on guitar solos playing sizzling hot riffs and his voice sounded strong. The fans applauded with his super impressive performance. Rocky Athas closed his high powered set with an Elmore James tune “Shake Your Money Maker” and the Texas Tornado gave a whirlwind performance doing just that!
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: JANICE SPICER