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1st Day at the Ellnora Guitar Festival


   Pretty Boy's Corner

September 10, 2009

Ellnora Guitar Festival/Krannert Center/ Champaign-Urbana, Illinois -

We all met at my house to go to the airport. On board for this trip were Laurie, Lisa, Susan, Kevin, and myself. Susan got us one of those four day tickets for the 'Park-and-Fly' at LAX. We did not have to bring anything as the promoter is providing back line for the band. Laurie brought her pedal board and guitar and I brought my Lakland bass. Kevin brought a pair of sticks and lots of food I'm sure. Everything went smooth at the airport with the usual strip search at the terminal. I'm glad they do this to keep us all safe even though it is a minor inconvenience. The plane pulled away from the gate and we were off in good time. We'll have a connecting flight in Chicago to make it to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. How about that, a university so good it gets two city names. Or is the U of I just fickle and can't make a commitment?

I am very excited about this event. Our time to play is Saturday evening and many great guitarists and guitar groups will be performing Thursday, Friday and Saturday. One of my favorite musicians, Keb Mo, will be playing, as well as, the always entertaining and eclectic guitarist, Bill Frisell. The promoters have supplied us tickets for these events because some artists are paid events. Out in the lobby is another stage where we will play. The Dobro "god", Jerry Douglas, will also be playing here. Jerry has played with many bluegrass groups like Allison Krause and the Union Gap Band. He also has a solo career. Check out the song "It's a Beautiful Life" on his 'Slide Rule" album, a great song which makes me feel good each time I hear it. Many other fine groups will also be playing on this stage and I am looking forward to hearing and enjoying them.

The reception night, Thursday, was fantastic with Chica Libre, Junior Brown, and the Derek Trucks band performing. This event was packed, as the entrance fee for the event was only $5. Imagine that, hearing all these groups for only $5. Chica Libre is a group from New York that plays pop music with a bent toward Peruvian influences. They sported an accordion, guitar, electric upright bass, drums and a small stringed instrument that looked like a tenor uke but was called a quarto. The next group to play was Junior Brown and wow. Junior had a double neck guitar that he designed himself. One neck was set up to use as a lap slide and the other neck was set up for standard guitar tuning. He placed this on a stand rather than hold the contraption with a strap. Junior has serious chops and he covers sounds ranging from Tex-Mex to surf rock and he seems to have an unbelievable amount of melodic ideas as well as good old fashion schtick. He is very entertaining and funny.

The Derek Trucks band was the final band of the night and they were awesome. Good old southern rock with a dash of jazz, r & b, funk, and Latin mixed in. If this wasn't enough, outside in the amphitheatre the Frank Vignola trio was performing. This trio was comprised of two guitars and an upright bass. They were really good. During all of this great music you could go outside in the amphitheatre area and purchase food and drinks to keep yourself in good listening shape. I made sure I was in good shape.

This was just the opening night. It was hard to decide what to watch so I'd catch a song here and then I'd catch a song there. What fun to hear such diversity in music while still keeping the focus on the guitar. At about 12 O'clock we made it back to the hotel for some good rest in order to get ready for the busy day ahead.


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