International Steel Guitar Convention - St. Louis

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International Steel Guitar Convention - St. Louis

Postby George Beasley » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:09 am

Disclaimer: There is no direct Chet content in this post, but thought some of you would be interested.

Last week, I found out the 42nd International Steel Guitar Convention was being held in St. Louis. Having recently starting trying to play some lap steel, I decided to drive over and check it out.

I am glad I did. The steel players there were scary good, and the backup band was great. Leon Rhodes (from The Texas Troubadours) played guitar with the band quite a bit, and is still a great picker. He has also very nice to talk to.

The best pedal steel player I heard was an English woman named Sarah Jory. Not only was she amazing on the pedal steel, but had a fantastic voice.

Johnny Farina (of Santo and Johnny) played two sets, and was entertaining. He closed both of his sets with "Sleepwalk"..which he helped write when he was 17.

On Saturday night, Junior Brown (who had a gig down the street that night) stopped by to play several songs, being backed by Leon Rhodes. Johnny Bush came up and sang a song with them as well.

Rusty Young, from Poco, was inducted into the Hall Of Fame, and did a good, more rocking, set.

The highlight, for me, was seeing Billy Robinson play lap steel. Billy is 82, but looks much younger. He joined the Opry in 1948, as a replacement for Jerry Byrd. He backed up Hank Williams when he first came to the Opry, and backed him up until Don Helms was hired a few weeks later. Billy also was the steel guitarist on the package show that went to Europe in 1949 with Hank, Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Little Jimmy Dickens, etc. Billy plays non pedal lap steel....but doesn't need any pedal. He is a master of the bar slants, and also pulls up the strings behind the bar to get the chords he wants. Amazing talent. He is also a good artist....and had some paintings on display. As a side note, he designed the Sho-Bud logo.

I ran into Deke Dickerson there Sat afternoon and talked with him for a while. Very nice guy. He is currently touring with The Reverend Horton Heat, who brings Deke out during there show for a mini set. Jim "Rev Horton" Heath brought Deke to the convention to see Jim's friend Lynn Owsley play. I met Jim later in one of the small rooms watching Lynn and Billy Robinson play. He was very friendly, was knocked out by Billy's playing.

Anyway...I just thought I would share. I had a blast....but sadly, the convention is dying. The crowd is older that the CAAS crowd, but at CAAS there are always young up and coming players carrying on the traition. That does not seem to be the case at the steel convention.

George Beasley
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Re: International Steel Guitar Convention - St. Louis

Postby Joe Diamond » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:13 am

Was there a guitar player named Buzz Evans at the convention?
Joe Diamond
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Re: International Steel Guitar Convention - St. Louis

Postby Larry Lenhart » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:39 pm

Good review...I have attended this convention for many years and was planning on it this year, but decided against it at the last minute. Yes the crowds are much smaller than they used to be...there are lots of other show competing with it, The Dallas show, Phoenix show, and various others. Just in the last 5 years the steel guitar world has lost quite a few great great players, including Hal Rugg, John Hughey, Herby Wallace, and many others. But there are still alot of younger players who are attending,,,,Mike Sigler, Mike Johnson, Sarah Jory is great ( I agree with you on that), and many others that I know I am leaving out. I have seen Buzz Evans at those shows in the past...he is amazing ! Great jazz player too. Anyway, maybe next year I will get back there.
Larry Lenhart
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Location: Ponca City Ok

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