In 1985, Tony Klassen drove to George Gruhn...
I'd Like a Chicken Sandwich, Light on the Mayo but Add a Harp Guitar.
posted by Caleb Thomas
We pulled into the parking lot. My mom, sister, sister’s friend, my friend and I exited the car and started on our way to the church. Armed with half of a chicken sandwich and a can of Arizona iced tea, I prepared myself for the snoozefest that was to come. As we entered the church, we were welcomed by the sight of a horde of middle-aged, denim-wearing hippies. They were all sitting around listening to an old dude play his heart out on a harp guitar, a behemoth of an instrument which resembled a guitar with a very large, stringed, wooden tumor protruding from it. As I sat down and mentally prepared myself for the challenge of not falling asleep in the hours to come, I found myself thinking, “Hey, this dude isn’t that bad.” Immediately, ashamed by my own brain, I focused my energy on the chicken sandwich.
Over the course of the next couple hours, my brain continued its onslaught against my cynicism, and, by concert’s end, I could safely assert that I had almost had a good time. This is due in part to the fact that the sandwich was delicious, and also that the people playing were mind-blowingly good. One guy in particular, Andy Wahlberg, made the night for me. In contrast to the previous acts, Andy played upbeat stuff and pulled it off really well, too. He also incorporated the harp strings a ton, and I found myself actually interested in what he was doing. He managed to play rhythm, bass and the melody all at the same time. In fact, I can even recall myself sitting up straighter one time to get a better view of the guitar neck, a truly astounding feat for me.
For those of you who are staring at your monitor in confusion right now, this event was, of course, the world-renowned Harp Guitar Gathering. Co-hosted by my own father, I was guilt-tripped into attending. However, as you can tell by the stuff I wrote before, I didn’t have that bad of a time. All said and done, I’d give it a solid meh/10, and I’d recommend attending it next year if you enjoy people playing wooden things with strings.
(All photos taken by Chuck Thompson)
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