Michael Deeds: Guitar-solo contest is latest wild idea from Garden City brewery

February 9, 2014 

When the men behind Crooked Fence Brewing cook up a promotion like next Saturday’s “Electric Guitar-Solo Showdown,” it is not exactly a meeting of the minds.

“We just sit around sometimes, usually drinking,” explains Kelly Knopp, the brewery’s marketing director and resident artist, “and something pops into our head.”

“I usually say something almost as a joke,” he says. “ ... And then I make a poster. And then we do it.”

If you’ve seen Knopp’s vivid, imaginative artwork, which graces Crooked Fence beer labels and event branding, it’s easy to imagine that the merit of these ideas occasionally might be trumped by their posters.

Not this time. Crooked Fence Barrelhouse, 5181 Glenwood St. in Garden City, has concocted an afternoon contest with lots of potential. The battle, which begins at 1 p.m., puts local ax-slingers in the spotlight for 5-minute showcases of fretboard wankery. Gigs Music Store of Boise will supply the amplifier. Competitors will bring guitars. (Sign ups are at noon.)

Judges will choose the victor, who wins a $500 Gigs gift card; $50 cash prizes for best costume and stage presence will be awarded by the audience.

The question is: Who will enter?

“So far, I’ve gotten some interesting phone calls,” Gigs owner Andy Agenbroad says. “I think it’s going to be kind of fun just to see who shows up and what they do.”

Boise Rock School co-founder Ryan Peck says that at least one student, a 14-year-old girl, plans to rock the house.

He’s hoping for more: “We’re trying to encourage a lot of kids to do it.”

Peck thinks that some parents might be concerned about the atmosphere. Will it be a bunch of beery adults?

Well, it is a brew pub. But it’s also a brightly lit restaurant. At lunch time. Frequented by grinning guitarists of all ages.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the people who headed there for brunch trying to have a peaceful breakfast,” Knopp says with a chuckle.

Think of the possible music styles. Heavy-metal shredding? Jazz-fusion? Bluesy slide guitar? Classic-rock tributes? The potential diversity is what makes the concept so adventurous.

Whatever occurs, it will be far from the strangest marketing bash hatched by the beer-infused brains at Crooked Fence. These are the dudes who organize an annual “Belly Flop-Off” from the back of the Crooked Fence ambulance into a 3-foot pool. (“The liability’s out the roof,” Knopp says.) These guys created last November’s “Winter Brews Cruise,” a cold-weather bicycle tour of Treasure Valley bars that began at 10 a.m. (“That ended up awesome!” Knopp brags. “We had like 50 riders on that.”)

Bottom line: If Knopp spends 30 minutes creating the poster — the amount of time it took him to do the “Guitar-Solo Showdown” — there’s no turning back.

“Once the poster hits the wall,” he says, “it’s on.”


If you’re gearing up for the free Eighth & Main Opening Celebration Saturday, pick up a copy of Scene magazine the day before.

We’ll have all the key details about what to do, what music to see, and when everything starts. (Headliners the Goo Goo Dolls hit the stage at 6:30 p.m.)

Here’s one piece of early advice: Don’t bother trying to reserve a table with a view. Shige and the Piper Pub will be closed for a private Gardner Co. party.

It’s part of a multi-day shindig for the developer. On Wednesday, there’s a private soiree at the top of the Eighth & Main building featuring singer Michael McDonald. Boise’s own Curtis Stigers entertains there Thursday.

There’s also something happening Valentine’s Day, but I’m too grumpy about not being invited to bother finding out any details.


Join Tim Johnstone and me as we preview two quality opening bands performing at the Eighth & Main celebration, plus spin new music from The Dead Weather, Broken Bells, Hospitality, Lucius and more. “The Other Studio” airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.


- Food & Drink: A restaurant review of K-Fusion Korean BBQ & Grill, plus a look at the food menu at the new Edge Brewing Co.

- Movies: The romantic movie release for Valentine’s Day? “Winter’s Tale.”

- Arts: Ballet Idaho’s Russian program will close with a near-epic examination of the waltz.

Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News. Email: mdeeds@ idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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