It’s not just for country anymore. Fans of the steel guitar from across the Midwest are line-dancing into Waterloo for this weekend’s 14th annual Northeast Iowa Steel Guitar Jam. Co-organizer and steel guitar player Lefty Schrage says he’s expecting at least 800 people to pack the Electric Park Ballroom. From 11 AM to 11 PM Saturday, the steel guitarists will be playing a wide range of music including country, swing, gospel, jazz, pop and blues, with shows running all day Sunday too.
While the steel guitar is usually associated with country music, Schrage says it’s used in a wide range of genres and the jam is going to draw a variety of listeners. There will be some 30 steel guitar artists from six Midwestern states, headllined by DeWitt Scott from St. Louis. While virtually everybody has seen traditional electric or acoustic guitars, Schrage says the steel guitar is an entirely different animal. It has four legs, horizontal strings and you have to sit down to play it.
Schrage says the typical steel guitar will have eight pedals on the floor and between four and eight knee levers so the player is using both feet, both knees and both hands — “so there’s a lot going on.” For more information on the festival, surf to www.steelguitarjam.com.