2002 CAAS Convention Review
Another convention has come and gone. I left with more great memories of incredible
performances from guitar players from all over the world and more new licks
learned. This year I got in lots and lots of playing. As my friend Ted Walters would say, "Change those strings every 300
chords or 3000 notes, whichever comes first!"
The basic format
of the convention remains the same (see our 1999 and 2001 reviews) but each year there
are highlights....some new players or something I learn, hear or see. The action starts Wednesday morning and runs nonstop until
about midnight on Saturday night. There are two concert rooms, 2 workshop rooms, the regional
fingerstyle club room, and two different vendor display rooms. Hundreds of guitars and even more guitar players. Vendors selling guitars, strings, rare LPs, teaching videos, CDs and much much more.
One thing I've learned since coming to my first convention years ago is
that the world's finest players come here. Tommy Emmanuel, Doyle Dykes, and Richard Smith seem to be favorites, and for GOOD reason, but they have some
great company. See the list below for a full roster of performers. Not all the great players are performers however; some
are the folks in attendance, like Paul Yandell, Chet's longtime sideman who walks quietly
around, unrecognized by many. Paul is a modest fellow, but lick for lick one of the world's finest fingerstyle players.
At the 2000 show, I remember meeting Elvis Presley's guitarist, Scotty Moore, who
looked like just another attendee at first glance.
As I mentioned, there are several other performance rooms besides the main hall, and one
of the smaller rooms seems to get the most pickin' action. This particular room
is known as the "Picker's Room", "Club Room", or "Tuck's Room" (after the late Tuck Raisor, who started the Kentucky Fingerstyle Club).
This is the room assigned to the regional Fingerstyle Clubs. Regular folks can sign
up to play on this small stage during the day, but the room is going virtually non-stop, 24 hours a day
throughout the convention. Anyone can get up on stage and play all through the week. Fingers
are flying in that room.
If you don't believe me, walk into that room one night
a 4AM. Tommy Emmanuel popped in one morning at about 3 or 4AM, and so did Muriel Anderson.
Nothing that was planned or on any concert schedule, just an impromptu jam. This is where some of the best pickin' is heard.
Speaking of Muriel, I discovered that Muriel Anderson, Richard Smith and John Knowles are performing along
with John Pell as "The Second Nashville Guitar Quartet." John Knowles and John Pell were
original members of "The First Nashville Guitar Quartet" with Chet Atkins and Liona Boyd.
That quartet released an album in 1979. Hopefully they'll consider doing a CD.
Buster B. Jones returned after being bed-ridden for 4 months in the fall. Complications from abdominal surgery had
left him partially paralyzed, but fans were glad so see his super-sonic picking was back up to speed. I knew he was back up to speed when I saw that a
concert promoter in Canada billed a recent appearance as "Buster B. Jones - Chet Atkins on STERIODS!"
Buster B. hung out in the hotel lounge, known to all as "Buster's office", and he introduced yet another
young phenom, this time a 12-year old kid named Brooks
Robertson, who ripped through "Guts and Steel", "Stumpwater" and some other blazing fast tunes.
Doyle Dykes kicked off Thursday evenings main stage show, and played brilliantly. He was
accompanied by bassist Dave Pomeroy, who is a highly sought after Nashville session man.
Two guitarists I had the pleasure of hearing for the first time were Tony McManus and
Clive Carroll. Both from the UK, these celtic-trained players displayed great playing skills on the stage and
each also picked some informally in the Lounge. Speaking of the UK, I also met David
Whyte, the gentleman who runs the "Thumb and Fingers Society" in England. There is a
large appreciation for Chet's music in Europe and some of these diehard fans made it to Nashville.
One regret is that I missed Tommy Emmanuel's workshop where he told the story of how he and
Chet made "The Day Fingerpickers Took Over the World", Chet's last duo CD. Chet was ill and Tommy was in Australia so there
were major obstables, but the result is one of my all time favorites. I hope someone got that on videotape.
But this years highlight for me was an informal private lesson with Ray Cummins. Ray
has been a master of Chet's style for years, and has toured playing Chet's music with
symphonies, just as Chet himself did with Arthur Fiedler and others. Ray and I found
an empty conference room and he showed me two or three songs, including one of my old
favorites, "Cloudy and Cool". I also played rhythm for Ray as he ripped through "Cascade".
Saturday night's concert stayed close to the music of Chet, with a barrage of great
players recreating songs from Chet's career. Every year Jim Nichols seems to blow me away with his
playing at the Saturday night concert. This year's format was a great concept in my
opinion, and made me think about Chet's life and appreciate him even more, if that is
possible. The performers showed their love and admiration for Chet in what they said
and how they played. And the audience was reminded of the historical progression of Chet's
life in music. Even Grand Old Opry Star Martha Carson at age 81 performed her hit produced by
After it was all over, satisfied was what everyone seemed to be.
- Tom Redmond
Partial list of performers:
- Richard Smith
- Jim & Morning Nichols
- John Nichols
- Philip Lester
- Tom Doyle
- Tom Boyer
- Buster B. Jones
- Richard Kiser
- Jerome Malaval
- Pete Cavano
- Tony McManus
- Muriel Anderson
- Brett Wood
- Michael O'Dorn
- Guy Van Duser
- Pat Kirtley
- Ruben Romero
- Todd Hallawell
- Moon Mullins
- Craig Wagner
- Robert Anderson
- Nokie Edwards
- Edgar Cruz
- Tim Farrell
- Bob Saxton
- Eddie Pennington
- Steven King
- Tommy Flint
- Claes Neeb
- Kirk Hanser
- Doyle Dykes
- Tommy Emmanuel
- Pete Huttlinger
- Sean Weaver
- Stephen Bennett
- Julian Smith
- D.R. Auten
- Thom Bresh
- Wayne Wesley Johnson
- Clive Carroll
- John Knowles
- Dimitri Diatchenko
- Chris Buzzelli
- Jocho Stephan
- John Standefer
- Craig Dobbins
- Steve Rector
- Bill Piburn
- Don Jones
- Kenny Gill
- Joe Edwards