Acclaimed Guitar Slinger Coming To Athens

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If you're a guitar geek who's into double-neck vintage Mosrite guitars, a fan of six-string wizardry or an avid reader of guitar magazines, chances are you've heard of Deke Dickerson, an exceptional guitarist specializing in vintage country, western swing and rockabilly stylings.

Chances are also good that you'll run into like-minded guitar buffs when Dickerson rolls into Athens for a show at The Union on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

On his Muleskinner blog, where Dickerson publishes articles on "road experiences, rare guitars, music and life," he refers to himself as "America's roots-music renaissance man."

Dickerson also writes articles for Vintage Guitar and contributes regularly to Guitar Player and Fretboard Journal. He has also written liner notes for Merle Haggard, Roger Miller, Roy Orbison, Johnny Horton and Rhino's Rockabilly CD collections.

Dickerson's knowledge of not only the music, but of the musicians who played and pioneered the music, is evident in his skilled writing and in his own expert playing.

His first band, The Untamed Youth, made a name for themselves in the mid-1980s, playing surf guitar-flavored indie-rock throughout the Midwest. 

By the early 1990s, the Columbia, Mo., native pulled up stakes and moved to Los Angeles where he formed The Dave & Deke Combo (shown at right) with another midwesterner, Dave Stuckey. The group was inspirational to many of the West coast retro-roots bands of that period. 

That acclaimed band finally split up in 1996 and Dickerson went on to lead his own outfit, The Ecco-fonics, named after an early and notoriously unreliable low-fi guitar tape-echo machine.

Today, Dickerson tours endlessly with the Ecco-phonics and with other side projects. His tour schedule is on his web site, as is his merchandise and discography, including more than a dozen recordings.

The site also includes articles, liner notes and a hilarious ten "webisode" documentary of last year's tour (with the upright bass player dressed as a gorilla, shown above).

In the "Gear" category there are lots of photographs of double-neck guitars and 1950s Standel tube amps. Dickerson states upfront, "I've got some pretty doggone weird stuff on stage."

Then there are the collections under the tab "Deke's Wonderful World of Weirdness," including photo galleries of one-man bands, gospel midgets and armless musicians. It's definitely worth a visit.

As a self-described renaissance man, Dickerson has worn many different hats in the music business, including engineering and producing studio projects for himself and his fellow musicians.

In 2009, he scored and recorded the soundtrack for the film The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia and Academy Award-winning director Alexander Payne used two of Dickerson's songs in his films Sideways and Election

Dickerson also produces the annual Deke's Guitar Geek Festival, which in past years has featured headliners Duane Eddy, Los Straitjackets and Junior Brown. This coming January, the festival will celebrate its 10th year by expanding to a two-night guitar extravaganza in Anaheim, Calif., during the NAMM trade show. 

The Union's doors open at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, with local acts The Heartlanders and The D-Rays opening the show. Visit The Union's Facebook page for more information.