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This weekend, OC will look as if a guitar bomb hit it. Thousands of guitars, amps and other things musical will be strewn about the Anaheim Convention Center for the NAMM show—the annual trade show of the International Music Products Association—and another huge thicket of vintage wood will be at the California World Guitar Show at the OC Fairgrounds, while NAMM-related concerts will clot OC stages.
But there will be no place quite so guitariffic as the ballroom of the Jolly Roger Hotel on Friday, where Deke's Guitar Geek Festival 3 will be fretting away in its biggest extravaganza yet. Some of the most renowned guitarist's guitarists on earth will be putting their guitar's guitars through caffeinated paces for hours and hours. If you're attending, it helps to like guitars.
Deke Dickerson became known to many of you as a mainstay of the Linda's Doll Hut stage, with the Dave & Deke Combo and more recently with his current outfit, Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics. So you know he plays a mess of guitar, and not your wheedle-whee G.I.T. effects-rack-whacked guitar, but the sort of hi-fi country jazz perfected by West Coast players like Merle Travis, Joe Maphis, Larry Collins and Jimmy Bryant.
As usual, this year's lineup is chock-full of guitarists who are so cool that I've never heard of them, one of the better-known of which is the Unknowns, fronted by Mark Neill, who even in the new wave '70s was slipping Duane Eddy and Fireballs influences into his stuff.
Michael "Angelo" Batio, ex of the metal band Nitro, does most double-neck guitar players one better by actually playing on both necks at once, essentially playing a right-handed and left-handed guitar simultaneously.
In a more traditional but no less manic vein, Merle Travis' son Thom Bresh will be performing with Maphis-style guitarist Brian Lonbeck, while Lonbeck alone was sufficient to astonish previous Geek Fest audiences.
Steel guitarist Dave Berzansky of the Chris Gaffney-fronted Hacienda Brothers will step forward with a set of his own. Dickerson, of course, will be performing with the Ecco-Fonics, and the Shaddicts will cover tunes by England's great '60s instrumental band the Shadows.
The highlight will be two special tribute sets. One is devoted to Don Rich, Buck Owens' long-departed lead guitarist and right-hand man, and will feature Texas Telecaster masters Bill Kirchen and Dave Biller. Deke says there's a possibility of special surprise artists dropping in—of the type that people might talk about for years to come, or at least talk about them not showing up. They're that special.
The other tribute is to Link Wray, who died this past November, which rather dampened Deke's plans to have him perform at the Geek Fest. Instead, Deke and Los Straitjackets—those daring men in the Mexican wrestling masks—will do their utmost to replicate the menacing racket Wray was known for. Deke promises that he and Straitjackets guitarist Eddie Angel will "literally strangle a guitar to death."
The closing tune, Wray's badass 1958 "Rumble," will be extended as players pile onto the stage for the Doubleneck Trainwreck Guinness World Record Attempt, the intent of which is to have the world's largest assembly of double-necked guitars twanging away at once. (If you have a double-neck, bring it—you'll get half off admission—and join in.)
"The first one we did, we had three guitars and six players—one on each neck," Deke recalls. "Last year, we had 14 guitars and 28 players. Musically, it was a mess, but visually, it was the most retarded thing ever, and I mean good retarded."
The previous fests were at the Doll Hut and an Odd Fellows Hall. Being adjacent to the NAMM show this year ups what Deke calls "the X-factor: it makes it that much more possible for surprise guests to drop in." At last year's fest, Dick Dale showed up to sit in with the Ventures' Nokie Edwards.
There will also be Deke's weirdo guitar museum, a guitar raffle and other sideshows, all from a guy who hates organizing shows.
"The last thing on earth I want to be is a promoter," he says. "It's terrible work and a lot of it. Last year I lost money. The year before I lost money. I expect this year's fest will make it a tradition. But everything had gotten so boring in nightclubs. I just kept wishing for someone to do a fun guitar show, so I finally figured I should do it."
DEKE'S GUITAR GEEK FESTIVAL 3 WITH DEKE DICKERSON AND THE ECCO-FONICS, LOS STRAITJACKETS, THOM BRESH, BRIAN LONBECK, BILL KIRCHEN, DAVE BILLER, MARK NEILL, MICHAEL BATIO, DAVE BERZANSKY AND THE SHADDICTS AT THE JOLLY ROGER HOTEL BALLROOM, 640 W. KATELLA AVE., ANAHEIM, (714) 782-7500; WWW.DEKEDICKERSON.COM. FRI., 5 P.M. (DOORS OPEN AT 4). $22; $25 AT THE DOOR. ALL AGES.