While we are not in the habit of heaping praises on new business ventures — particularly those about which we know little — one has to be impressed by the first Kentucky Guitar & Gear Show.
The event in the the conference room at Best Western River Cities in Russell was organized by Nick Carr and Jason Kiser, members of the band Mad Dog Mean. The response to the event was overwhelming, Carr said.
Not knowing how the community would respond to an event that charged visitors and in which vendors purchased space to sell their wares, the two young enprepreneurs planned for only a small turnout for the first event. But the medium-sized conference room was constantly crowded with those seeking to sell their guitar products, those looking for either bargains or hard-to-find instruments and those who were just curious about just what a guitar and gear show was. The crowd started filtering in before the 10 a.m. start of the one-day event and it did not ease up until after the 4:30 p.m. end of the event.
“We need a bigger venue,” Carr said of the event. “There was a lot of trading going on and a lot of great deals. ...”
The success of the first Kentucky Guitar & Gear Show guarantees there will be another one. It will be in April at a larger location yet to be determined.
Considering it was a largely unplanned event, the show offered a surprising variety of merchandise that included both accoustic and electric models. Everything from semi-hollow and formica-topped instruments were well represented alongside authentic vintage and reproduction solid-body instruments by makers including Hamer, Fender and Gibson among others.
Guitarist Taylor Virgin of Greenup County was among the many musicians at the show. He attracted a tight circle of admirers as he plugged into a big amp by Dana Hall of Ashland’s Hall Amplifiers.
“I just came to check everything out really, but the Hall amp ... that’s been the highlight of the day. And, he’s a cool dude, too — super genius,” Virgin said.
As the vendors packed their unsold instruments into cases, Carr said he heard of several outstanding bargains being struck during the day, including the barter of an antique Gibson guitar amp, as well as a “Black Beauty” Les Paul guitar.
Carr and Kiser — two self-admitted “gearheads” — created the show because they love guitars and music. They hoped to break even, but earning a profit from the first show was an unexpected benefit.
Carr and Kiser seem to have struck the right chord with local musicians and music lovers. The Kentucky Guitar & Gear Show is not for everyone, but the first show attracted vendors and shoppers from throughout the region to this community, and future shows hold the promise of doing the same. In fact, the success of the first show likely will mean the next show will be even larger. You do not have to be a guitar lover to realize the money visitors spend while in town for the shows benefits the economy of the entire community.