A Night of Great Music Played By Iconic Artists & Friends


The iconic Gibson guitars throws a yearly private event during Winter NAMM that is one of the most sought after events to attend. This year it’s held at The Grove in Anaheim and I’m fortunate enough to be able to attend. You never know who’ll hit the stage to perform or what will be in store throughout the evening. One great thing is you know that you’ll hear great music. The only things known prior to the show is that Guns n Roses guitarist Slash posted an Instagram photo of himself and famed Eagles guitarist Don Felder playing together and mentioning the Gibson Live event just hours before.


Mayhem Music Magazine’s editor and I show up and there is already a large line of eager people waiting to get in. We gain access to the building and there are many famed musicians walking about and accessible to talk with while we wait for the show to begin. Gibson makes sure this is a special night by also having a full dinner served. There was prime rib, salmon, pasta, and so many other choices as well as food to satisfy you if you were vegan. Gibson was pulling out all the stops. We sat with other people that we knew for dinner and even had Phil X of Bon Jovi ask if he could pull up a chair and join us.



After the food has settled and it was time for the music to start, we move to the floor to enjoy the show. The lights lower in the building as Full House and General Hospital actor John Stamos comes out jamming on a Les Paul. As he’s soloing and the guitar neck knocks over a music stand he stops to pick it up and the soloing is continuing. Obviously he is not playing but it did cause a big laugh. He announces that he’s tonight’s host and brings out Gibson President & CEO James Curleigh a.k.a. “JC” to introduce the evening and to discuss his love of the brand and where the company is going. The house band for the evening would consist of musical director/guitarist Jimmy Vivino, Rolling Stones touring bassist Darryl Jones, Jackson Brown/Steely Dan keyboardist Jeff Young, and former John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff. With this much talent these artists can back up the biggest in the business.


What better way to showcase the future of Gibson than to start the evening off with a younger generation of musicians carrying on the brand legacy like Emily Wolfe, Ally Venable, Jayden Tatasciore among others. As the night will have several musicians gracing the stage at different times we were also treated to London Souls frontman Tash Neal doing a rendition of Crobsy, Stills, & Nash song “Ohio”. Next to hit the stage was a guitarist that I first saw Jared a few years back in San Francisco and have been following his career ever since, Jared James Nichols. With his no pick technique and his roots in blues rock, he’s a great fit to be part of the Gibson family. Jared wailed through a rendition of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” as well as Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” with British born fifteen year old guitarist Toby Lee joining him.



Next up is Celisse Henderson. She’s a solo artist as well as the guitarist for singer/rapper Lizzo who took the crowd to church with the energetic “Get There”. Celisse had brought those in their seats to the floor to do dancing and shaking and it was turning into such a fun evening.

Now it was time for some modern day rockers to hit the stage. Guitarist Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest playing the famous Gibson “Flying V” and Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell paid homage to David Bowie by playing “Rebel Rebel”. Richie stayed on stage as he was joined then by Chuck Garric of Beasto Blanco/Alice Cooper, Joe Hottinger and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm to perform “I Miss The Misery”. Lzzy’s been one of my favorite vocalists for a very long time now and it was great to see her live again especially with Richie shredding along with Joe. Richie was one of the people I had the opportunity to talk with earlier in the evening and he was looking forward to playing tonight with these other great artists.



For a little change up singer Andy Vargas of Santana hit the stage with Car’s guitarist Elliot Easton played through some Spanish flavored vocal tracks “Oye Como Va” and “La Bamba”. Here’s where the Icons of music who made their fame while playing Gibson guitars hit the stage. First up is Don Felder of The Eagles who is playing a sunburst Le Paul during Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride & Joy”. Don’s voice sounded better than ever and his playing has gotten better with time if that’s even possible with his long career. At that point Don switched to the famous white double neck Gibson SG that was used during his time with the Eagles when he would perform “Hotel California”. He stated he needed some help to perform the song so he welcomed Slash to the stage. The crowd went crazy as the modern day guitar God came out with his top hat and a smile. It was such an iconic song and it was played flawlessly.




Don exited the stage as Slash was joined by Dirty Honey singer Marc LaBelle, Tash Neal, and Jared James Nichols to do Aerosmith’s “Last Child”. Marc’s tone and range was great on this cover and the guitar work by all would make Joe Perry and Brad Whitford proud. Out next was legendary frontman Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to take the stage. He was in a festive mood and soaking up every minute of this special evening. Slash and Billy played ZZ Top classics “Waitin’ For The Bus” into “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. It’s so easy to why Billy is such an icon in the music industry. Slash continued to own the stage as Billy exited and Anders La Source of Sugarmill Slim came out to showcase his vocals and harmonica playing on the Rolling Stones “Midnight Rambler”.




Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen came on stage next to joined Slash to perform their song “Blue Eyes”. Rick was flinging so many guitar picks at this point that it seemed everyone was going home with more than just a great memory. Not to be outdone, Reverend Billy Gibbons came back out to join this group to do his track “Tush”.

To cap off what seemed to be a perfect evening of music, the night was ended with an all star of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. There were so many great guitarists on one stage while vocals were traded off by Hale, Zander, and LaBelle. It truly made tonight a memorable evening and a special thank you to Gibson for hosting such a wonderful event.


To View The Full Gibson Event Photo Gallery Click HERE


About The Author

From my deep roots in country music to my love of the rock genre. I seek those artists who base their lyrics in the real world and who are looking for more than just the party. I bring to the table a fresh look at what's happening in music today and I hope you take this journey with me.

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