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Duane Eddy Tops Deke Dickerson's Guitar Geek Festival

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The influential rock guitarist leads a lineup in Anaheim that also includes 'Honeyboy' Edwards.

One of the musical highlights in recent years of the National Assn. of Music Merchantsannual trade show, now under way in Anaheim, has been Deke DickersonsGuitar Geek Festival, which the roots rock guitarist and band leader only half jokingly bills as “the best guitar festival in the world."

This year's marathon event gets going at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Anaheim Plaza Hotel and if history holds, it will run well past midnight.

The lineup is topped by seminal rock guitar hero Duane Eddy, who's giving his first full-fledged concert on the West Coast in nearly a decade. The bill also includes bluesman David “Honeyboy" Edwards, the 94-year-old contemporary of Robert Johnson and Charley Patton who is considered the last of the original Delta blues players, surf guitarist George Tomsco from the Fireballs and several other acts.

A handful of steel guitar aces will gather for a “History of the Steel Guitar" segment, and show host Dickerson will lead a tribute to Johnny Ramone, the punk player famous for refusing to play guitar solos.

“I decided to do the guitar festival after going to see a big guitar show at the Universal Amphitheater many years ago," Dickerson said this week. “It was the same old thing: 30 guys onstage playing songs that went on for half an hour.

“I asked myself, 'Why isn't anybody doing what I want to see: guys like Duane Eddy, Nokie Edwards and obscure-yet-great players who have never got their due?' That's when I realized it wasn't going to happen unless I did it myself."

His coup this year was landing Eddy, known as the “King of the Twang Guitar" and famed for such reverb-soaked rock instrumentals of the 1950s and '60s as “Rebel Rouser," “Forty Miles of Bad Road," “Ramrod" and “Peter Gunn." The sonic template he created with producer Lee Hazlewood laid a foundation for the surf-music wave that crested shortly after he scored his first hits.

“Peter Gunn" made a return to the charts a quarter century after Eddy's original hit in 1960 when the British group Art of Noise recorded a cover version that featured its creator. That version won a Grammy as the best rock instrumental of 1986.

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