Home > Features > GearFest ’16
Sweetwater’s mega free annual music expo
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
When it comes to the musical map of the planet, you could say Chicago has the blues, Nashville has country, New York has rap… and Fort Wayne has Sweetwater.
That’s not an exaggeration. The growth of Sweetwater from tiny recording studio to world-leading retailer of professional music equipment (the #1 online retailer of music equipment in the US, in fact) has been well documented…
But if you really want to see the influence and scope of Sweetwater with your own eyes, you need to go to their annual GearFest event.
You’ll want to prepare in advance, though — you’ll get in, but it’s going to be crowded. It always is. Not only does it draw attendees from all over the globe, but some of the finest talents in the industry are on-hand, leading workshops and seminars, giving talks and Q&A sessions, and (yes) performing.
GearFest ’16 happens Friday June 17 through Saturday, June 18 on the Sweetwater campus at 5501 US Highway 30 W.
The largest FREE event of its kind in the US, GearFest combines a gear expo, entertainment events, a flea market, and musical demonstrations, with seminars and workshops by some of the biggest names in the music industry. More than 400 product lines — including all of the newest musical instruments, music technology, and audio equipment — will be represented in dozens of tents and four semi-trailers.
There are also great deals on the best music instruments and pro audio gear available. You’ll find once-in-a-lifetime sale pricing on many products, and hourly giveaway drawings for free gear totaling more than $90,000, from names like Antelope, Shure, Avid, Bose, Lauten, and many, many others.
The roster of talent appearing at GearFest ’16 is just as impressive as the deals. Featured guests include Grammy Award-nominated pianist and songwriter, Jim Brickman; guitarist Andy Timmons, who has performed with everyone from Joe Satriani to the Beach Boys; Styx drummer Todd Sucherman; the progressive-metal band Periphery; Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Earth, Wind & Fire keyboardist Larry Dunn; Queen Cora Dunham, who spent multiple years as a drummer for both Prince and Beyonce, and many more. (For a full list of presenter bios, go to: Sweetwater.com/gearfest/presenters).
Sweetwater’s Mitch Gallagher will host a panel discussion on “Turning Your Spare Room into a Great Recording Studio,” featuring Russ Berger, one of the world’s most accomplished and respected acoustic experts.
New for this year — Sweetwater’s recently completed outdoor pavilion, which will play host to events over the two days, including a party for all attendees on Friday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., with music provided by Sweetwater’s house band, the Sweetwater All Stars, joined by special guests.
A fully restored and extremely rare Hammond Novachord will be on display at GearFest with performances by Sweetwater’s synth specialist, Daniel Fisher, and presentations by Joseph Fill, the engineer who restored it to its original condition. The Hammond Novachord was released in 1939 with only 1,000 units built. It has an instantly recognizable sound that was featured in films and TV shows, such as Gone With The Wind, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits.
As we said, GearFest is FREE and open to the public, but you need to register. To speed up the registration process, you can pre-register online at sweetwater.com/gearfest/register
For more info and a complete schedule of events, visit sweetwater.com