Robben Ford and Monte Montgomery headed a list of notable guitarists to cap the final day of the Dallas International Guitar Festival.

01-May-2016: Sunday at the Dallas International Guitar Festival is always a favorite with great national acts interspersed with great local acts. The level of talent is so close that it turns into a day of great music for everyone.

They started early (for musicians) on Sunday, but the large crowd was ready to finish off a terrific weekend of music on this beautiful Spring morning. After the coffee had kicked in, both the bands and the audience came to life.

Local blues great Buddy Whittington started the day and, as always, had fun on stage. Buddy played with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for 15 years and learned how to entertain and put on a show. He jammed to some Texas Blues, Texas Rock and Southern Rock in his set, getting the adrenaline going in the crowd.

Songs such as “You Know That Ain’t Right, Baby,” “Going Down To Louisiana” and “I Have To Go See Alice” brought back so many memories to the local listeners. He also covered songs by good friends, as in “Love Junkie” by the late Bugs Henderson and “Louisiana Cockfight” by John Nitzinger.

Buddy has a smooth voice made for the songs he sings and is a premiere guitarist. Be sure to catch him when he plays near you.

Incredibly talented Lance Lopez played before a large indoor crowd, backed by his cohesive band that sounds so tight from playing together so much. They started their set in rock n’ and roll mode as drummer Landis Chisenhall laid down a wicked beat. Lance’s solo and stage presence stood out, and the audience knew they were going to get everything the band had.

With lots of emotion, they switched to hard blues, back to rock and back to blues. Great crowd interaction and stage mannerisms showed they enjoyed being there and entertaining the fans, even if it was early on Sunday morning.

Lance continued to spin, strut, jump and kneel as the emotion poured out of his body. He parried with bassist Patrick Smith, who played an aggressive bass for the entire set. Catch them when you can.

Fans crowded into the already packed stage to see Monte Montgomery. He has an incredibly loyal following, and they knew every word of every song he played.

Named by Guitar Magazine as one of the Greatest Acoustic Guitar Players, he proved that from the outset with “Moonlight Tango.” His rapid-fire fingering on “Tropical Daydream” mesmerized the crowd as some of the sounds he makes don’t seem humanly possible.

He crosses styles easily, and the fluidity is amazing to watch. His soulful version of “Sara Smile” sounded like he was playing notes in between notes. He received a well-deserved standing ovation, just as he does every time he plays this summer.

A highlight of the day was when The Maylee Thomas Band performed for the still-increasing crowd. The former gospel singer has a soulful voice for the blues and a booming voice for rock. She displayed her entire range on “I Want To Keep You Satisfied,” “Take me Home,” and “Need Some Crazy” from her new CD – Don’t Give Up.

She displays her emotions as she explores the stage and moves her entire body when singing and dancing. In a tribute to the recent passing of Prince, she thrilled the crowd with her renditions of “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Maylee is highly sought after to perform in and around Dallas. You’ll be glad you saw her in concert.

Ending the day was Robben Ford, a former member of LA Express, Joni Mitchell’s backing band. In a show of respect, many musicians joined the overflowing crowd to hear Robben play his brand of blues.

Well-written and intelligent lyrics combined with exceptional talent on the guitar was the theme for his entire set. He began with some Texas Blues and immediately showed a stage presence that comes from years of entertaining. His Chicago Blues and jazz songs were written to fit the tone and lilt of his voice and it came across to the appreciative audience.

He paid tribute to Freddie King with “Cannonball Shuffle” and played a Stevie Ray Vaughan-vibe song. He brought Ruthie Foster up to the stage for a few songs that featured her beautiful blues voice. She added lots of soul to the blues as she stretched notes to the joy of the crowd.

Robben finished with “Cause Of War,” a song that showcased hard chord changes with a defiant tone. It was a crowd-pleaser that ended his set and the entire festival.

Robben Ford tours nationally and internationally.

The Dallas Guitar Show grows larger every year and features a combination of artists not found anywhere else. It’s a wonderful way to hear them play some of their hits as well as trying out new music. The nightly jam sessions led by owner Jimmy Wallace feature all of the guitarists and is the highlight of the festival.

Loyal fans attend every year and new attendees vow to come back. The musicians change, but the caliber of talent grows. The Dallas International Guitar Festival is an event you’ll want to visit.

Photos by Joe Guzman.

Robben Ford
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Monte Montgomery
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Maylee Thomas Band
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