Bassist Billy Sheehan in Sweetwater’s Performance Theatre, during a presentation at GearFest ’14.
Fort Wayne, IN (May 5, 2015)—Sweetwater has announced GearFest 15, the latest edition of the retailer’s annual event, on Friday, June 12 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, June 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Sweetwater campus, 5501 US Hwy 30 W, Fort Wayne, IN. GearFest is free and open to the public.
GearFest combines a gear expo, entertainment events, flea market, and musical demonstrations, with seminars and workshops, plus two days of deals on music instruments and pro audio gear.
Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack said, “GearFest has become an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind event in the music retail business. Where else can musicians and music-lovers come to see, hear, enjoy—not to mention buy—what is usually reserved for music industry insiders at your typical trade show? We’re also particularly proud to be able to produce this huge event in Fort Wayne, bringing people here from literally all across the country.”
GearFest will host musicians performing and in workshops continuously on five different stages. Featured guests will include Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, founding member of Steely Dan, and session guitarist for the Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Sheryl Crow; Deep Purple vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes; Shawn Pelton, drummer for Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, and Van Morrison; bassist Nathan East, who has worked with Barry White, George Harrison, Sting, and Stevie Wonder; and, guitarist Mike Stern, who has performed with jazz greats like Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, and Jaco Pastorius. Other musicians include guitarists Mark Colcomb and Javier Reyes, keyboardist Steve Weingart, and many more.
Sweetwater’s Mitch Gallagher will host a panel discussion with three pioneers of synthesis and electronic instruments: Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith. Technical Grammy award-winner Roger Linn invented the LM-1 Drum Computer (the first sample-based drum machine) in 1979. He later designed the Akai MPC60, which combined a sampling drum machine with a real-time MIDI sequencer. Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits, and his Prophet-5 was the world’s first fully programmable polyphonic synth, as well as the first musical instrument with an embedded microprocessor. And Tom Oberheim co-designed the Synthesizer Expansion Module (SEM), a device that allowed musicians to simultaneously combine live playing and sequenced playback—a concept that pre-dated the MIDI revolution. They’ll share anecdotes and talk synthesis and electronic instruments in an informal roundtable discussion.
One attraction will be Sweetwater’s expanded and recently completed 15,000-square-foot music store. GearFest attendees will be able to visit one of the largest music instrument and audio gear stores in the Midwest, with the largest on-site inventory of any music store in the country.
Special GearFest features will include hourly giveaway drawings for free gear totaling more than $70,000, from Gibson, Fender, Antelope, Focal, Roland, Yamaha, Moog, and others. More than 400 product lines, including all of the newest musical instruments, music technology, and audio equipment, will be on display in 19 tents and four semi-trailers. In addition, Sweetwater will offer sale pricing on many products.
GearFest ’15 will also offer five Pre-GearFest AMPLIFIED Workshops, on Thursday, June 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The workshops will include “The Craft of Songwriting,” “Shaping the Sound of Worship,” “Pursuing the Ultimate Guitar Sound,” “The Art of Studio Mixing,” and “Synth Tips and Tricks.” Space is limited; for more details and to register, go to: http://www.sweetwater.com/gearfest/amplified/
Attendees can bring a guitar for a free restringing and setup, enjoy food, and experience the newly expanded Sweetwater campus, including the new Crescendo Café, featuring coffee drinks, ice cream and sweets. A musicians’ flea market, where used equipment can be bought, sold, or traded is open to all. To pre-register to participate in the flea market, call (260) 432-8176.
GearFest ’15 schedule
Travel and hotel information