By Dave Abner / Copyright © 2006 The Branson Daily News. All Rights Reserved.
BDN Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: The following is the first in a three-part series of stories.)
There’s a cliché about the Branson music scene: You can’t throw a rock 30 yards in Branson without hitting 12 guitar players.
Maybe there’s some truth in the statement.
Music meccas like Branson, Nashville, Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles always attract musicians.
Lots of them.
And there are always a lot of guitarists in the mix.
How many? Nobody knows.
Some figures – likely largely underestimated – state that 15 million guitarists dot the globe.
But with hard numbers tough to come by – and some sales figures showing several million new electric guitars sold each year in the U.S. alone, many of those low-end models sold to novice players – the number is quite likely much higher.
Maybe the important question is not “how many,” but rather “why so many?”
Some simple answers.
Guitars are relatively small. You can pack one in a small car for a trip to the park or to take on a picnic.
They can be relatively inexpensive, with a number of decent models hanging off music store shelves for a couple hundred dollars a pop.
But, beyond the expected answers, why do so many musicians choose guitar over harmonica, trombone, piano, drums, tuba?
The answers are as varied as the musicians who offer them.
Larry Holiday plays guitar and sings for “Take it to the Limit,” an Eagles tribute show at RFD TV The Theatre in town.
Holiday’s almost half-century guitar odyssey began in a dream.
He said, “I had a dream when I was five years old I wanted to be a guitar player.”
When he was eight, Holiday inherited his father’s Stella guitar.
“My brother had dropped it down a flight of steps and it was a bit bashed up,” Holiday said.
Jack Pribek has earned a living playing guitar all over America. He landed some years back in southwest Missouri and served as business manager, bandleader and guitarist for Bill Dees. Dees gained notoriety in part for penning a number of hits with rock legend Roy Orbison, including the Orbison-Dees classic, “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
"Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press," (Posted on 29 Apr 2008 at 11:31 am Under: Guitar, Media, Music) ...And, I know who it is too; musician/journalist Dave Abner. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I did an interview for a guitar story with the Branson Daily News. It’s going to be a three part deal and the first part hit the streets this morning. Part 1 can be found here.
Pribek got his first guitar at 14.
His parents weren’t thrilled by the idea.
Pribek said, “They wanted me to study a legit instrument... but said they would pay for the lessons if I saved up for a guitar.”
With a classically-trained pianist for a mother, Pribek’s parents insisted he learned to read music – a skill not held by all working musicians.
Holiday had a similar story.
“My dad made a deal with me. He said he would buy me an electric guitar and amp(lifier) if I would join band in school and play a horn.”
Holiday said he took up trombone. “The (teacher) goes, ‘You’re going to be a trombone player,’” Holiday said.
And Holiday was on the road to guitar ownership.
“(My dad) went to Montgomery Ward’s and bought me a Tesco Del Ray (guitar) and a matching amp.
“He got all of that for like eighty-nine bucks.”
Holiday’s first guitar lessons came in the form of what he heard coming out of a transistor radio during his formative years growing up in Indiana.
Raised near Chicago, Holiday said he went to sleep each night “with a transistor radio under my pillow.”
It’s where he learned about rock and pop, on radio station WLS out of Chicago, or what he heard on a late-night blues-soul broadcast on a station “out of Gary or Calumet City.
“I got pop music from WLS, and blues and soul from this other station.”
Pribek remembers an old Johnny Carson broadcast.
“I was about eight or nine and I remember seeing B.B. King on ‘The Tonight Show.’ He was making his guitar sing like a voice.
“Something about that grabbed me.”
Holiday remembers Elvis films that caught his eye years ago.
He said, “When I was a kid, I remember watching Elvis movies.
“He played guitar and it seemed like he was getting a lot of chicks.”
Pribek’s first gig – a real playing job, for money – is different than the $5-a-night tale told by many of today’s Branson musicians when recounting “first gig” stories.
In his early teens, Pribek and his young bandmates rented a community hall and hosted a Valentine’s Day dance.
They charged an admission and “made like four or five hundred dollars,” Pribek said.
Thus are guitar players – and concert promoters – born.
(Coming in Part Two: Becoming a professional guitar slinger.)