By Doug Diamond
The guns-blazin’, rip-roarin’ Wild West Fender Custom Shop Road Show rocked The Dusty Plains like wildfire in the night. The no-holds-barred rock n’ roll of Woodie Johnson on the legendary Voodoo Lounge stage, the unabashed John Cruz Masterbuilder Q-n-A session, the unbridled giveaway of the ferocious Fender Cst Shop ’59 Esquire, most certainly made for a rompin’, stompin’ rock n’ roll storm that shook Guitar Country’s Mt. Rubidoux to her core.
The theme: Rock Hard Ride Free; as the event, free to the public, also meant that each of the first 40 Wild West faithful through the door, ultimately rode off into the sunset (or into the night) with the highly-coveted, extraordinarily-colorful Fender Cst Shop Lunch Box. Boldly going beyond the limits of standard Q-n-A fare, The Cruz’er unleashed his inner Shreddy Krueger on the wicked White Lightning Stratocaster,
The Wild West six-string exclusive (with teeth); erupting during the scintillating Q-n-A session with rabid Fender enthusiasts in the magical Voodoo Lounge. The gun-slinging master builder also took the Dealer Exclusive ‘63 P-90 Telecaster for a powerhouse, head-cutting romp, as ice-cold ones and refreshing wine flowed, courtesy of Voodoo Lounge stalwart, ace bartender, Francesca.
During the Killer Cruz’er Q-n-A with Fender Head Honcho Joe Reynoso, the expert luthier discussed his world-renowned Fender Custom Shop guitar builds in honor of vaunted rock luminaries, such as the infamous SRV#1 Stratocaster, in exaltation of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan and his favorite axe. Cruz also elaborated on the lengthy, meticulous process of replicating the ultra-wicked/extremely-battered/smoky-yellow Olympic White “Play Loud” Strat honoring the ongoing legacy of virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen.
In a stirring moment, Cruz related the extremely emotional process of creating the Ultra-Relic Black Strat used by the legendary John Mayer at the worldwide event that was The Tribute to Michael Jackson; as well as a far-less-publicized, yet-equally-moving, gold-leaf stratocaster tribute delivered to the legendary Ike Turner which, upon presentation, brought the iconic performer to tears.
Afterward, Cruz’s band, Woodie Johnson, delt several knockout-style blows live, blasting through Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home,” and Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” with cocksure, old-school abandon. Woodie Johnson also took no prisoners with ZZ Top’s “Balinese,” and The Humble Pie classic, “C’mon, Everybody.”
The band, comprised of Cruz on guitar, Fender Senior Masterbuilder Mark Kendrick on vocals and guitar, longtime Fender difference maker Roger Esposito on guitar, Tony Bacca on bass and Mike Dauer on drums, most certainly delivered, putting The Road House into The Road Show with unblinking, killer classic-rock ethos, surely setting the pace for the giveaway of The FCS ’59 Esquire. The stellar guitar, ultimately awarded to longtime Wild West client/veteran California firefighter, Patrick Howard, in a six-string raffle for the ages, will certainly be in good hands! Congratulations, PH! Rock ON!
After the SoCal firefighter triumphantly left the stage, axe in hand, Woodie Johnson returned to rock The Voodoo Lounge like a Wild Stallion (In The Night). Special thanks to all of The Wild West Faithful and FMIC gurus who joined forces to create the shot heard ‘round The Six-String Universe.
Shoot ‘em up – Wild West Style !!!!
Check out The Wild West interview with legendary Fender Cst Shop Masterbuilder John Cruz: