Guitars Under the Stars music festival returns

The Guitars Under the Stars music festival at Cheadle Lake is once again on its feet and ready to entertain music lovers with a four-day event from July 26 to 29.

The festival promises a plethora of bands, food, beer, a car show, laser light show, disc golf tournament, water slide, fire dancers, misting stations, and an attempt to break the world record for the longest guitar solo.

The latter goal is to break the “longest guitar solo or guitar playing by a team” record by going beyond 24 hours, said Jason Cripe, co-founder of GUTS.

“We are having hundreds of local musicians come out,” he said. “Our idea is to do 315 guys, each doing five minutes, one after another, for 24 hours straight.”

The solo will be played in a small area in the back of the venue, and will begin some time Friday night.

“We’re gonna look to time it so that it’s wrapping up and we’re breaking the record during the intermission before our main headliner on Saturday night,” Cripe said.

Meanwhile, festivities and bands will go on in the main area of the event. The solo shouldn’t interfere with residential neighborhoods wherein people are trying to sleep, as county ordinance requires noise level to be under 80 decibels after 11 p.m., Cripe said.

Things kick off Thursday night with free admission for tribute bands to Rush, Priest and Faith No More.

Friday’s line-up includes Gary Hoey, Ty Curtis, RDG and Black Powder County.

Saturday features Light The Torch, Unleash the Archers and Ed to Shred, followed by QuarterFlash, Points North and Larry Mitchell on Sunday.

Cripe and his friend, Jeff “Ed to Shred” Gilbert, both Lebanon residents, got their start in music fests by coordinating the Scio Music Festival in 2012 and 2013. When the property owners of the Scio site decided to discontinue the festival, Cripe and Gilbert determined they wanted to “create something of their own,” Cripe said.

GUTS was held in Lebanon in 2014 and 2015, and seemed to fall off the map the following two years, but it wasn’t because of money, Cripe said.

“We took massive losses, but that wasn’t why we stopped.”

After the 2015 event, Cripe was rear-ended by a texting driver while at a stop light, he said, which resulted in major back surgery. That’s why 2016 didn’t happen.

“About a year and a half later, after I had almost made a full recovery, I was rear-ended again at a stop light by a different person, and had major neck surgery,” he said. “I had to have a titanium plate and six screws in my neck.”

That’s why 2017 didn’t happen, he said.

“Pretty much two days after I got off the surgery table, I started making phone calls and said we’re going to do the show this year; I don’t care what shape I’m in.”

Six months later, Cripe was out placing banners around town for 2018.

Touching on the topic of money again, Cripe explained it’s not a festival that began with millions of dollars.

“We’re grassroots. We’re local, Lebanon people that decided to build this.”

Festivals tend to take big losses in the first few years, and it takes time to build a festival that gains national attention, he said. But he believes it can be done. Based on the buzz this year, they expect to recoup money lost from 2015, as well as plan next year’s lineup.

“We’re sitting in a good position right now where we feel like we’re gonna be able to move forward.”

The City Council approved a one-time fee waiver for use of the park this year in order to assist Cripe’s attempt to maintain an annual festival he believes will benefit the city by bringing in tourism dollars.

Guitars Under the Stars begins with a free kickoff event at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at Cheadle Lake Park, 37919 Weirich Dr. Tent camping and RV spaces available. On the following three days, single day pass is $18, or $43 to include VIP; weekend pass is $40 to $65; camping costs extra.

For more information, including the rest of the lineup, visit GuitarsUnderTheStars.net.