Country music lovers gathered together to listen to the music they love at the Sheraton DFW hotel for the Steel Guitar Jamboree, March 12-15.
While people kept their distance, leaving rows of chairs between groups, there was a sense of community as everyone clapped along with the performances. Honkytonk and dance hall performers from all over the country performed original songs and popular hits, showcasing different types of sounds possible on a steel guitar. Vendors sold steel guitars, accessories, and shirts, as well as other musical instruments throughout the event.
“This is my twentieth year coming to the show.” Ted Nesbitt said. “I am a fanatic for pedal steel guitar. I love the instrument. I play the instrument and sell the instrument at home in Northern Ireland.
“Good, classic country music is played in Ireland. Going back into the 1800’s the people from Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia moved to the United States and brought their music with them, so there is a tie between American country music and Ireland. This is the best pedal steel guitar festival in the world.
“Everyone here in Texas is so great. I could count on one hand the number of ignorant people I have met. This jamboree is amazing. I should have moved to Texas 30 years ago.”
Emma Clarke and her daughter Kara also visited from Northern Ireland.
“My partner and his friend were here last year. He plays the steel guitar,” Clarke said. “They loved it so much they brought us with them. I have enjoyed everything here. The people are lovely. Everyone is so welcoming.
“Texas is so different from where we come. The food and the weather is so different, and we have had such a wonderful time. The convention is really fantastic. We both love steel guitar, and it is so nice to hear the music we love.”
Buck Wheaton flew in from New Jersey for the event.
“We come out every year,” Wheaton said. “I really enjoy everything about this festival. The people are beautiful, it is relaxing and soothing. Everyone is so friendly.
“It is funny, my buddy and I come here and listen, but we do not play. We are probably the only two people here who do not play. If you want a nice, chill weekend with beautiful music, there is no better place.”
Wheaton did not change his plans to come amid the Covid-19 virus news, but was worried the event would not happen.
“I was checking my phone the entire time, but they held the event,” Wheaton said. “The atmosphere is so great. It is hard to believe we are here and it is business as normal. It is just so friendly. You just cannot beat this place, no matter what you do.”
Reverends Gary and Liz Stephenson use steel guitar as part of their ministry.
“The steel guitar is universal,” Gary said. “It gets people’s attention. People think you are going to play good old honkytonk, but when you play southern gospel with it, people pay attention. I used to play in bars, now I play for the Lord. What a life.”
“Music prepares people for the service,” Liz said. “When we play something unexpected, people really pay attention and ready their hearts. “
“We came out to hear and see steel guitars because it is a dying art,” Mary Ann Frachiseur said. “We want to bring our grandson next year, so he can learn and be inspired by these artists. We want to inspire him to keep up the steel guitar.
“Everyone here is so friendly. Even if the people are multi-millionaires they act like they are just the next door neighbor. People are genuine. It feels like a family here. I would not be ashamed to bring my grandson, because everything here is so wholesome. People are so willing to help.
“My husband plays the steel guitar and can contact any of these artists and they are willing to give him advice or whatever he needs. It is just a fantastic group of people.”
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