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News from the 2021 Gathering


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I stepped out of my car into a warm, sunny, muggy afternoon in Nashville. On the seat, I saw a glint of blue and green — two picks I thought were already lost. A good omen. With me behind the music building at Trevecca sat only a single blue SUV, but I recognized it as the one that matters. We were back.

Paulette greeted me with a big smile and a warm hug. She had already set up the store, organized the goodie bags, and arranged the chairs. The stage was assembled, and Timothy arrived with the ice. Nothing left for me to do. I treaded softly up the steps toward a familiar figure who was tweaking a video message board.

“Just make sure I look good,” I said with a smile. Another big hug, from Steve. I left him to his preparations and returned to the rehearsal hall. Others were arriving. Paulette said we were up to 61 this time, along with some spouses. Soon we had about half that number for the meet and greet.

We had serious catching up to do over our ice cream. The room filled with animated, excited chatter as the first timers met the old hands — and I suppose that now I fall into the latter group. It’s particularly nice to meet in person for the first time someone you’ve only known through the discussion board. And there are many first timers. Attendance this year is a bit off. There were 90 plus here in 2019. I suspect that the pandemic took its toll on budgets, priorities, and even health.

But here, for a few days, anticipation, fellowship, and music will be in the air. We’re already thinking of our guitar friends who just can’t be with us. Wherever you are, tune up and play along with us in spirit.

We are back.

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Thanks for posting, Diane, so I can enjoy it vicariously.  What a great opportunity for small group interaction!  And I heard that Cory Congilio, an instructor I adore on Udemy, will be there.  Stay in touch.  I'm there in spirit!

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@DianeB  Thanks for sharing!  Hope everyone has a great experience.  
Note: Can you adjust your text color?  Currently I’m getting black on a dark grey background and it’s tough to read…

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15 hours ago, Plantsman13 said:

@DianeB  Thanks for sharing!  Hope everyone has a great experience.  
Note: Can you adjust your text color?  Currently I’m getting black on a dark grey background and it’s tough to read…

@Plantsman13 You can adjust your screen colour/ colour scheme on the site by  using the little paintbrush on the main page to the right of your User Name.

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We’re all here, and we’re out of the starting gate.

Trevecca’s main hall filled once again this morning with three score eager guitarists. With so many new faces around me, introductions spun out one after another. Paulette said there was no one this year from outside the U.S. Steve welcomed everyone, settled us down and called for questions. From the other side of the room I heard: “Steve, is your online moderator Diane here?” With that, any chance of staying under the radar was shot.

Our first task was to get warmed up with stretches, then came Steve’s workout with basic chords. Flatpicker David Grier’s masterclass was indeed a class, as he not only entertained us but also patiently explained his techniques and how he learns them. I must paraphrase, but David urged us to play with people who are better musicians, and ask them how they do what they do. Persevere. It can be something simple, but play in time. How reassuring to hear a virtuoso admit, “the simplest things will befuddle me”.

With no lunch service on campus, we had to scatter and scrounge. Greg Otto and I followed the GPS-recommended, presumably scenic, route to M. L. Roses — mobbed as usual — but found a table and managed to return without crossing county lines.

I hurried back inside, scooped up my gear, and scurried past a crowded room where Collin Hill started up his finger style workshop. Seeking something new this year, I parked in the back of Kim McClean’s session on songwriting. Elsewhere, Greg Voros taught setup and maintenance, and Paulette covered introductory music theory.

Steve had about half of us for his blues basics workshop while the jazzers found their sevenths on the second floor with Andy Reiss. We broke into six groups of about ten each for beginner, bluegrass, jazz, and blues jams. My blues group was led by our friend Dino Pastin and his son Vince. We were all skill levels, and I could see we were all having a ball. Bluegrass pro Jim Hurst closed out the day with sincere advice to make your music your own and play from your heart.

As I finished a solo dinner, I realized I was about to fall asleep right in my food. Outside I saw road work, and I remembered Kim’s challenge to write a song for tomorrow. Write a song? I could barely chew. But I had an idea. Two words, a title perhaps. I drove back to Trevecca, parked in the shade, sat in the AC and wrote a verse on my iPad. Hardly thinking, I took out my phone and sang it to a melody that came from — wherever they come from. Then a chorus. Recorded that, too. Tweaked the title. Geez, I thought, this is already half a song. Suddenly I was awake.

We closed out the night with an acoustic concert featuring master fingerstylists Collin, Parker Hastings, and Joe Robinson. What a first day. Maybe by lunch tomorrow I’ll have a song for Kim.

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On 7/13/2021 at 6:46 PM, Nancy Lawing said:

Thanks for posting, Diane, so I can enjoy it vicariously.  What a great opportunity for small group interaction!  And I heard that Cory Congilio, an instructor I adore on Udemy, will be there.  Stay in touch.  I'm there in spirit!

Yes! Diane, a lot of us are living vicariously through you.  Keep the news & updates coming please.

Is Corey there?  I recall Steve had him teach a blues session one of the early Guitar summer Gatherings.

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If songwriting comes as easily to you as creative writing does, you've got it made!  Enjoyed your writing as always, thanks for posting.

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Around the first turn we go. Steve’s workout exercised the mechanics of picking and strumming. If the morning coffee had yet to kick in, the pot of Bart Walker’s steaming hot blues got us in gear. SRV at ten a.m.? Only at this affair.

I strolled with Greg, first timer Liz, and our fellow migrating bluesbirds to the Subway at the front entrance. It felt good to walk around in the warmth — briefly. Liz and I camped at a table in the music building’s loft and enjoyed some leisurely quiet time getting acquainted over our sandwiches.

Back in songwriting class, Kim critiqued some raw and finished compositions that had been sent to her overnight. She pitched us an pop exercise straight out of a prose writer’s workshop — two minutes to write seven song titles — 3, 2, 1, go! I managed three duds, a maybe, and a keeper that got her attention.

Meanwhile, Steve and Paulette continued teaching theory and Collin had the fingerpickers a-boom-chucking away. Andy Reiss set the jazzers’ axes to “Phrase”, and Jim Hurst mowed down the bluegrass tricks. Kim kept my class running overtime, and I was on a roll, so I lingered until she had to leave. It meant skipping Steve’s worship music class, but my compensation was a blissful, quiet respite in the lounge before returning to Dino’s blues jam. We all piled back into the main room to wrap up with Parker Hasting’s thumb picking masterclass. He’s not quite twenty one years old and already teaches with more clarity and poise than a lot of tenured professors I’ve known.

Jim Hurst and his trio entertained us at our evening concert with a sweet mix of toe tappers, ballads, and endearing stories. And his handshake? Warm as the Tennessee sunshine.

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Sounds amazing and jam packed with all manner of goodness 👍😀

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Down the backstretch hard, and turning for home. Does Pat Lindgren ever sleep? She had a jam going at 8:30 am when I walked in the door. Eventually they had to stop to give Steve a chance to run his show. We started with a lesson from Steve and Dino on solo improvising. Joe Robinson returned for a masterclass on fingerpicking, for which I afterwards heard only praise for his skill as a teacher. Check out JoeRobinson.com to see for yourself.

My noon expedition with Greg in search of the Hattie B’s on 8th street, only 12 minutes away, devolved into a 45 minute loop of central city, two crossings of the Cumberland, an encounter with a funeral procession, and a near collision with an idiot who cut in front of us. He promised to have the GPS app humanely euthanized.

Back to theory land with Steve for me. He responds to the phrase “tritone substitution” the way most most people respond to “free dessert”. Enough said.

Another new guest artist this year was Scott Bernard, side man to Kenny Loggins. Scott walked us through his pedalboard as he explained how he gets the tone he wants. The gearhounds among us couldn’t get enough.

We wrapped with singers Debi Shelby and Peter Penrose demonstrating how guitarists can be proper accompanists. They closed with soaring harmony on a hymn that brought a tear to my eye and the whole gang to their feet.

After a short break at my hotel to panic about tomorrow’s song and where to find dinner tonight, I scooped up Liz at Trevecca and executed Operation Tell Greg Where to Go. He was already waiting at the LongHorn when Liz and I pulled up. We toasted our teacher and cheerfully took the rap for each other for Liz’s benefit. Then off to Franklin.

On Main Street I had to wait for some tourists to cross in front of me. They looked a lot like David, Keith, and Mark. We parked and strolled towards towards the Franklin Theatre as Greg rolled by, shouting out his window: “Diane! Where did you park?” Operation TGWTG still nominal.

The Franklin Theatre is a little gem within a diamond of a town. Poor Liz, sitting to my right: I had not been sitting next to the gentleman on my left for more than five minutes before we were into George Gruhn’s albino snake, Carter guitars, and David Grier. Tonight a full house welcomed the return of Larry Carlton to the stage after a year’s absence for the shutdown. Drums, sax, trombone, keys, bass, and everything of Steely Dan except Donald and Walter. They bid us goodnight; we clapped for an encore. I turned to Liz and shouted, “Well, he has to come back for ‘Peg’”.

He did. Liz and I looked at each other and grinned.

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Well I can only live through these gatherings via everyone else .

Gonna be a hard time for me to convince my banker to return

Hope for a bigger turn out next year (not that 50 is shabby)

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On to the finish line. It’s Showcase Day, which means I wear my heart necklace with the music note on it. Steve’s workout was a short pentatonic lick in various keys. To my dismay, I noticed that even after some warming up, my fingers were not cooperating. Wake up, little Susies, I muttered, we gotta get to work in a few minutes.

We scattered the chairs and music stands and clambered around the stage for Chuck Thompson to take the group photo. A dozen exposures and twice that number of wisecracks later, it was snack time.

Now, for any teacher’s favorite moment: seeing his students go for it. The Student Showcase hour featured a dozen first timers and old hands alike. One could sense everyone in the room silently rooting for their friends on stage. I like to watch Steve watching us. He simply glows with pride. When I leaned into the microphone for my first line, it sounded like someone else singing, someone better than me. My fingers were still sleep deprived, but as I looked out on the faces before me, including Steve’s, that didn’t matter.

Applause and cheers for all. The heartfelt hugs. Once more, the clang of chairs stacking, the snaps of cases closing, the calls for just one more picture. The cars and trucks coming to life, ferrying away the guitars and the memories.

Later, Greg, Pat, and I rendezvoused back in the parking lot — my usual tactic — for a night at the Opry. We scored center seats near the front for Ricky Skaggs, Sara Evans, Vince Gill and others on Bill Anderson’s 60th anniversary with the Opry. The house was packed and appreciative for the occasion.

Finally, even we three die hards had to part. One last check to ensure the lights were off, and no stray picks were left on the sidewalk. Then our triad arpeggiated into the Nashville night.

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Thanks Diane for articulating so well , good memories for me and and other attendees, as well as for the whole of The Guitar Gathering community. It is such a special time for those that can find opportunity to visit Nashville and share treasured moments with so many like-minded and wonderful enthusiasts of all things of guitar learning. Every year I expand my friendships with more and more faces and names to look forward to seeing again in 12 months. It is a joyous time for me as I hope it is for others who attend as well. I thank Steve, Paulette, their family and Trevecca University for giving so much of themselves to make this happen . As I do every time I go to the annual event, I encourage anyone who wishes to spend an uplifting , entertaining and inspirational musical experience and fellowship to consider attending the GG conference. It is one of life’s highlights for me. 
 

Greg

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I can't add much to what Diane and Greg have posted above. It was a great week of seeing old friends and making new ones. We were able see, hear and rub elbows with some of the finest talent in Nashville. Thanks to Gruhn's, Artisan, North American Guitar, Carter Vintage, and the new Gibson Garage, we saw and played more guitars than we would in a lifetime back home. Looking forward to next year.

Below is a link to all the photos I took last week - starting from packing the car to the closing session.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/svwd4aeu4lpob35/AAACnryfaU3BwSUFb2hkIEcna?dl=0

 

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20 hours ago, Dave White said:

I can't add much to what Diane and Greg have posted above. It was a great week of seeing old friends and making new ones. We were able see, hear and rub elbows with some of the finest talent in Nashville. Thanks to Gruhn's, Artisan, North American Guitar, Carter Vintage, and the new Gibson Garage, we saw and played more guitars than we would in a lifetime back home. Looking forward to next year.

Below is a link to all the photos I took last week - starting from packing the car to the closing session.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/svwd4aeu4lpob35/AAACnryfaU3BwSUFb2hkIEcna?dl=0

 

Great photos Dave!! Thx for sharing.

Greg

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All the posts and pics make me "homesick".    Already looking forward to June 15 next year!

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Epilog

I’m back home after my usual extra week of stops in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Lately it’s the only significant traveling I do. I see friends and family, decompress, and ease myself back into the real world.

Ironically, the two weeks carve a hole in my practice and playing, but it’s a healthy break. I don’t feel guilty, only blessed that I have the chance. A theme of several of my conversations with my guitar pals was: enjoy this to the fullest — in time this, too, will pass. I’ve come to know many of our gang like family. I am grateful for your kind words and constant encouragement. I’m just trying to pay it forward where I can.

This gathering felt especially intimate after skipping a year. It was my sixth, and counting two retreats, my eighth event with Steve. There’s nowhere else I could stumble through a song in front of sixty people with every face looking my way. That’s a memory to cling to —  when it all goes crazy and the thrill is gone.

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