Ax-travaganza! Guitar show will rock Williamsburg

Ax-travaganza! Guitar show will rock Williamsburg
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It’s the one event that brings together all of Williamsburg’s guitar aficionados — those who actually play guitar and those who just carry them around because they look cool.

More than 30 dealers of guitars and all the stuff that goes with them will take over the stage and concert space at Brooklyn Bowl on April 1 — uniting rock music, bowling, and alcohol in a way not seen since the premiere of “The Big Lebowski.”

When it debuted last year, the Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show was the first expo for strummers in the city in a decade — and the borough’s rockers were sorely missing an event of its kind, according organizers “Uncle” Mike Schnapp, a Bowl DJ, and Lisa Sharken, a veteran music gear magazine writer and technician.

“My friends who are dealers were reminiscing about the days when there were guitar shows in the basement of a church on the Lower East Side,” Sharken said. “I checked out the venue and looked at the space, and I said, ‘You know, I think I can make this work.’”

Last year’s expo attracted 1,200 attendees, leading Schnapp and Sharken to organize a fall follow-up, and this show is drawing vendors from as far away as Arizona and Belgium.

The guitar sellers might be coming from all over the world, but what makes the show special is its local feel, said Garret Landes, the manager of Williamsburg’s Main Drag Music.

“It gives a very specific sort of Brooklyn experience, being able to have really good food and and beer and bowling in the same space.” he said. “If it was in a convention center it wouldn’t be like that.”

Not only is Brooklyn Bowl worlds different from the hangar-style convention centers that host most guitar shows — Williamsburg attracts a totally different scene than a suburban expo, said Southside Guitars co-owner Ben Taylor.

“It gets a much younger crowd,” said Taylor, whose store is on Grand Street. “It’s people who live in Williamsburg and are familiar with modern rock-and-roll instead of a million people who are trying to emulate Eric Clapton.”

Schnapp, who helped organize a popular series of record shows at Brooklyn Bowl, said the expo would let fans Fenders and people who go gaga for Gibsons make peace over brews, bowling, and grub from the house restaurant, Blue Ribbon.

For Sharken, the expo is all about creating a strong Brooklyn network of guitar builders and sellers.

“The whole idea was really to bring back the local market, promote all the local businesses, let them show their faces and give them some exposure to the public,” Sharken says.

But not all of the vendors go in with just business in mind.

“It’s not even about selling a lot,” says Landes. “It’s about being there and being part of a community, talking and getting to know other people in the industry.”

The 2nd Annual Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Avenue, between North 11th Street and North 12th Street, Williamsburg. (718) 963-3369] April 1, 11 am. Free.