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by Barry Barnes
September 2006


Gibson Guitar Corporation hosted their 1st Annual Gibson Summer Jam celebrating the opening of its new Gibson Custom factory on Elm Hill Pike in Nashville, Tennessee on July 27-29, 2006.

The three day party featured guitar clinics by notable players such as Frank Hannon from Tesla and guitar extraordinaire Larry Carlton. Other artists or guitar techs hosted lectures or clinics while live music from artists such as 100 Watt Opera, Dixie Peach, Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, and more provided live entertainment. Bands also battled for the right to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in the FORTUNE Battle of the Corporate Bands Regional Finals. The national finals will be in October.


A real guitar giant, Rick Nilesen. (Barry Barnes Photo)

Cheap Trick headlined the last night of festivities on Saturday night. Between Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, and Tom Petersson, they probably played at least a dozen Gibson guitars throughout the show. I can safely say they played them well because I Want You to Want Me, The Flame, Dream Police, as well as all their new material sounded fantastic. That classic rock band from Chicago is still on top of their game.

Gretchen Wilson appeared before Cheap Trick with Dean Hall accompanying her on guitar during the acoustic set. Acoustic or not, Redneck Woman is always a pleasure to hear. Homewrecker wasn’t bad either. Lee Roy Parnell revved up the crowd before the redneck woman came out with his strong country songs and powerful Gibson guitar playing. He “slides” right into a groove every performance.

Friday afternoon featured a ribbon cutting ceremony with Gibson Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. Joining him from Gibson Guitar Corporation were Rick Genbar and Mike McGwire along with legendary guitar player Scotty Moore. You know, he was that guy that happened to play with Elvis.


The ribbon cutting. (Barry Barnes Photo)

Juszkiewicz talked with reporters from around the world after the ceremony, especially the guitar publications. Despite the media frenzy, I did manage to get a couple questions with Gibson’s leader.

Gibson was founded in 1894. A lot of older companies are closing their doors these days. How are y’all getting stronger and stronger?

“Our company is about people. Our team here is just incredible. The people are dedicated, concerned about the work that goes out of here.”

Even in these turbulent times, y’all are building a new plant and thriving. What are you doing right at Gibson Guitar?

“I think that we have a product that is about entertainment and enjoyment. When times get tough, people turn to music and entertainment. I think we have a spectacular team of people that are dedicated to the craft and their passion. People like Rick Genbar, Mike McGwire, and so many people here are inspiring people to play guitar. We’ve had a huge surge in new guitar players, young guitar players getting started; our dedication to the instrument itself. We kinda stand out as something that if you’re going to get a guitar, you want a Gibson.”

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