My name is Dean Black and I am the chairman of the annual "Steelin' for Hearts" Steel Guitar Jam. I'd like to tell you a bit about the Jam.
In the late 1980's a group of pedal steel guitar players in the Baltimore/Washington area got together as often as possible to exchange ideas and licks. The four main participants were: Sonny Hunley, Clark Rice, Tommy Auldridge, and myself. One day in 1989 Sonny came up with the idea that maybe we should get as many local pedal steel players together and stage a concert for the public. We agreed that that would be a lot of fun and so the planning began.
I had been in close contact with Buddy Charleton, Pedal Steel Hall Of Fame Member and one of Earnest Tubbs' Texas Troubadours for 13 years, ever since I took lessons from him. So one day Sonny and I got in my car and drove down to Clinton, Maryland, where Buddy had a steel guitar shop and also gave lessons. Buddy agreed to headline the show and that was all it took.
Sonny was also a heart transplant recipient and figured that if he asked for donations we could donate the proceeds to help out the Heart Transplant Foundation, Inc. with a contribution.
The steel players at the first "Jam" were: Mike Auldridge, Tommy Auldridge, Dean Black, Buddy Charleton, Sonny Hunley, Diana Keene, Dave Van Allen, Don West, and Jeff Wise.
The highlight of the first year was when Buddy Charleton and old friend Don West got up together and jammed for about two hours. From that point on every year ends with a massive jam of all the participating steel players. Over the years we have donated over $20,000 to the Heart Transplant Foundation, Inc.
Regrettably Sonny passed away after the third year, but before he died he asked me to take over as chairman of the Steel Guitar Jam and carry on the tradition. I have been doing it ever since. Although I now live near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina the Jam is still held in the Washington, DC metro area where we are still blessed each year by the appearance of my hero and former steel guitar teacher Buddy Charleton.
Over the years we have had numerous Pedal Steel Guitar Hall of Fame members grace our stage as well as the cream of the crop in talent from all over the country. The day always concludes with a monster Jam with as many as seven or eight steel players on stage at the same time. Truly a sight to see...and hear!
For our 14th Annual show in April of 2002 we were fortunate enough to bring the show to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. We had our best and biggest show to date. The response we have gotten from both the venue and the attendees was nothing short of phenominal. We are hoping to be at the Birchmere again for our 15th annual Steel Guitar Jam on April 20, 2003.
I would like to thank everyone who has ever participated in or attended one of the Jams. It's truly fun and for a good cause. If you've ever been to one of the "Steelin' for Hearts" Steel Guitar Jams I'm sure to be seeing you again. If you've never been...you owe it to yourself...you'll never forget it.