For the last few years, Five Towns College in the Long Island town of Dix Hills has been host to an increasingly popular event. This year, the Classic American Guitar Show has proven itself to be the premier guitar show in the USA. More than 5,000 visitors flooded the show May 18th and 19th to view the wares from dealers and builders from all over the country.
JGO's humble abode at the show
Jazz Guitar ONLINE was there as well. Bob and Cindy Benedetto graciously allotted me some space at their booth, so I gladly flew to Long Island to be there. (I discovered something. Indianapolis is a 90 minute commute from NYC - and so is Dix Hills!) The first day, the crowds were at the Benedetto booth to catch guitar wizards Jimmy Bruno, Jack Wilkins and Gerry Beaudoin while they jammed. Bob had on display two beautiful guitars he built as part of the "Renaissance series". One was a nylon-string called "Il Fiorentino" and the other a steel string model. Both were adorned with gorgeous woods, inlay and unique flower petal sound openings. Other luthiers were there as well, including John Buscarino, Bill Comins, Linda Manzer, Steve Grimes, Bill Hollenbeck and Jimmy Foster. There were more unique archtops than I have ever seen, along with a huge number of classic Gibsons, Epiphones and others.
Out in the courtyard the jazz players entertained both days. The weather was perfect and the aroma of hot dogs on the grill drifted everywhere. One of the highlights of the show was the exhibition of the famous "Blue Guitars". These were instruments commissioned by collector Scott Chinery and made by 25 of the top builders in the business. The guitars had to meet the following criteria: 18" body, 1.75" neck width at the nut and the identical shade of blue lacquer. Each guitar was the supreme example of its builder's talent. The collection was a popular destination both days of the show.
Saturday night was a special treat for the jazz guitar crowd. A special concert was held at the Huntington Hilton featuring the Benedetto Players. Jimmy Bruno, Gerry Beaudoin, Adrian Ingram and Jack Wilkins put on a great show that lasted over 3 hours! There were mini-sets featuring the whole quartet with various duets and trios in between. This was some of the most amazing playing I have heard in a very long time. Of course Jimmy Bruno was a hit of the night, doing a lightning-fast solo rendition of "Cherokee". One of my other favorites was Ingram (playing a protoype "Gina" model in beautiful sea-green lacquer, named for the luthier's daughter) who managed a skillful mix of bebop and Claptonesqe blues lines. See the JGO Review and pics of the concert here.
The next day brought more of the same, including the beautiful weather. The courtyard was the scene of another great jazz guitar concert with Andy MacKenzie, John Pisano, Bruno and Ingram, playing a mix of Buscarino and Benedetto instruments. Pisano also did an earlier set with his wife Jeanne, a talented jazz vocalist. They did Brazilian tunes from their recent release "The Flying Pisanos". Back inside, some more great jazz guitar was heard at the De Cava booth. Tony Purrone and Mike Coppola amazed and entertained with their great talents. Coppola played a De Cava "Hydra", a strange-looking 9-string guitar that allowed for greater range on both sides.
For a lover of jazz guitar, this was one event that should never be missed. You'll definitely see me back there next year!
Check out these great show photos
The one that started it all: Jimmy D'Aquisto's Centura Deluxe that inspired the idea of the Blue collection.
Jimmy Bruno playing my guitar!
Me with John Buscarino. Neither of us can seem to keep our mouths shut!
With Jimmy Bruno
John Pisano and Brazilian guitarist Marcos Cavalcante jamming at the Buscarino booth
Jerry Cook. Watch out for this guy - especially you Wes Montgomery fans!
(l-r) Jimmy Bruno, Missy Buscarino, Jeanne Pisano
With John Pisano