Pedal Steel Newsletter

 Volume 26 # 6 July 1999

Return to: 11th Annual Jam - April '99

1999 Steelin' For Hearts Jamboree

by Dave Van Allen

The Eleventh annual Steelin' for Hearts Jam occurred on Sunday, April 18, 1999. There was a great turnout of players and fans at Latela's Corral in Jessup, MD.

The typical Steel Guitar Show article is generally a chronological listing of Players, with an equipment list and a song title or two for each picker. I am not sure I can be quite so detailed but I will try to give an overall impression of a fun day of great music and steel guitar camaraderie.

There is nothing I know of that is like a Steel Guitar Jam. Pickers with skill levels from talented amateur to seasoned professional all gathered in a room, joined in the common bond of the love of the sound of steel guitar. A wide variety of steel guitar styles were displayed, from pure non-pedal Hawaiian to modern Pedal Steel, classic Honky Tonk to subtle Pop Music interpretations. And with three Steel Guitar Hall of Fame members on the bill how could we not have a great time?

Several pickers (Bobby Edenton, Herby Wallace, myself) performed a number in tribute to the late Jimmy Day during their sets, whether a tune associated with Jimmy or just performed "in the spirit" of Day's soulful style of playing.

Bobby Edenton from Virginia kicked the show off in style with a sharp set of country and swing instrumentals. Clean picking and a great tone. I'd never heard him, but would definitely go out of my way to hear him pick again!

Next up was a long time friend of Buddy Charleton, Johnny Dutton. He came up from Texas for a visit with Buddy and the show. He had that unique "Texas feel" in his playing, call it country soul. Must be something in the water down there. His guitar was a one-of-a-kind prototype "Edge." Apparently the builder died before going into full-scale production.

I played next, performing with MIDI accompaniment as I often do. My debut on my ZumSteel Universal 12 in a room full of steel pickers was nerve jangling, but my set was received warmly by the crowd, even my Pop experiments such as "Teddy Bear's Picnic" in 5/4.

Event coordinator and stalwart Dean Black performed next. Even after moving from the DC area to Myrtle Beach, SC, where he now plays full time, Dean has kept the Steelin' For Hearts Jam going in tribute to event founder Sonny Hunley. It is one of the few Steel Shows I know of with a charity focus, with proceeds donated to the Heart Transplant Foundation, Inc. (of which Sonny was a beneficiary). Dean always "kicks it" with his sets, with great arrangements and prodigious speed and technique. He also doubles on a guitar/steel hybrid similar to Junior Brown's guit-steel, but based on a Melobar.

A regular at Steel shows across the country, Leonard T. Zinn, who also played rhythm guitar for the other steelers, played his customarily fine set, drawing on his rich history of steel guitar experience. Why Leonard is not yet in the Hall of Fame is a question asked after his performance.

The Hula Monsters, with resophonic and non-pedal whiz Dave Giegerich, displayed their talents on Hawaiian and Swing numbers, and were joined by former Lost Planet Airman Telecaster-slinger Bill Kirchen and Dean Black on Pedal Steel for a rockin' set of "Deisel-billy." Kirchen's patented arrangement of "Hot Rod Lincoln" with musical asides in tribute to a multitude of guitar and steel pickers, really "kicked it up a notch."

Herby Wallace performed an outstanding set with a crisp delivery. He is truly one of the finest pickers around, and can "do it all" with seeming ease, from slow C&W to fat-chord Jazz to the fastest picking on up tempo numbers. DeWitt "Scotty" Scott joined Herby for a duet, and then Hall of Fame member Scotty played a beautiful set of Hawaiian and country classics on his vintage Rickenbacher "fry-pan."

We were very pleased to have in attendance Weldon Myrick, also a Hall of Famer. The Opry veteran played a set laced with anecdotes and self effacing humor. His tone was one of the high points of the day, fat and attention commanding. His instrumental version of the Connie Smith/Bill Anderson classic "Once a Day" seemed to me to beg for a second steel to play the "fills" Weldon played on the record while he played the melody, or vice versa.

The highlight each year for our show is the presence of Steel Guitar Legend, Former Texas Troubadour, teacher, and Hall of Famer Buddy Charleton, who is now "local" to Virginia. Buddy is in great health and high spirits, and it was a joy to hear him in action on his new Legrande III with his fine band .

The day ended with a Jam: Bobby Edenton, Weldon Myrick, Herby Wallace, Leonard T. Zinn, Dean Black and Buddy Charleton played several numbers. Of particular note was "Release Me". On the out-chorus, at Buddy's instigation, all six steels played the melody in unison or close harmony- an angelic choir of steel! What a way to end the day!

As always our sound crew John Vengrouskie and Mike Rivers kept things humming, and our staff band gave a marathon of stellar accompanying performances, most notably Gantt Kushner on guitar, guest bassist George Hyde and Jerry Holmes on fiddle.

Also in attendance but not performing were Mike Auldridge, resophonic and steel-picker for Chesapeake, and several members of the on-line Steel Guitar Forum ( who gathered for a meet and greet with photo opportunity.

For more pictures and a sound byte of "Release Me" those of you with Internet access may visit my website at and click on the Steelin' For Hearts link.

Featured Pickers:
Bobby Edenton: Emmons P/P, Peavey
Johnny Dutton: Edge! Pedal Steel
Dave Van Allen; ZumSteel Universal, Fender Vibrolux, MIDI Tracks
Dean Black; Legrande; Peavey, MIDI interface
Leonard T. Zinn; MSA
Dave Giegerich; Fender Custom D8
Bill Kirchen; Telecaster
Herby Wallace; Mullen D10
Scotty; Rick Fry Pan
Weldon Myrick; Legrande III
Buddy Charleton; Legrande III

Staff Band:
Gantt Kushner, Guitar
Leonard T. Zinn, Guitar
Jerry Holmes, Fiddle
Cliff Martin, Drums
Don Moore, Bass
George Hyde, Bass

John Vengrouskie
Mike Rivers


Article copyright 1999 David Van Allen

"Re-printed from Volume 26 issue #6 of the Pedal Steel Newsletter by permission of the
Pedal Steel Guitar Association Inc. P.O. Box 20248, Floral Park, NY 11002.
Web Page:"

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