Dan Hopson was the first performer to take the stage for the Joy of Strings, which showcased various local guitarists and their unique approach to making music. Hopson played songs associated with movies on a nylon-stringed classical guitar. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Dan Hopson was the first performer to take the stage for the Joy of Strings, which showcased various local guitarists and their unique approach to making music. Hopson played songs associated with movies on a nylon-stringed classical guitar. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Local guitarists show off the instrument’s versatility at Joy of Strings

Each musician displayed his or her style

The delicate melody of “Over the Raindbow” that filled the Goldtown Theater wasn’t coming from Judy Garland.

Juneau musician Dan Hopson was playing the tune on a nylon-stringed guitar as part of the Joy of Strings event, which brought five different musicians with varied playing styles to the stage.

Guitarists shredded, picked and strummed their way through a handful of tunes each.

Every set included different genres, types of guitars and even different tunings, but they were all united by a love of the guitar.

“There’s something in the guitar for everybody,” said Ward F. Ward, the show’s lone electric guitarist. “Everyone is a little different, and that’s OK.”

Here are the guitarists who played, what set them apart, and their style in their own words.

The guitarist: Dan Hopson

The instrument: A takamine classical guitar

Their style: “I play classical style.”

Their influences: Christopher Parkening and Alex de Grassi

What set their set apart: Hopson exclusively played songs from movies. “This is a movie house,” Hopson said.

The guitarist: Ward F. Ward

The instrument: A 1987 gem floral print Ibanez

Their style: “A lot of guitar players have a very diverse kind of background. I tend to focus on learning something from a classical school and applying it in a progressive way.”

Their influences: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Sabicas, Steve Vai and Jimi Hendrix among others

What set their set apart: Ward was the lone electric guitar player and mostly played songs off “Surfing with the Alien” by Joe Satriani

The guitarist: Laura Zahasky

The instrument: A Santa Cruz guitar, a custom-built guitar, a mandolin and a banjo

Their style: “I started playing bluegrass guitar, and I love that style, but discovered it was a little bit abrasive, so I tried to smooth it out.”

Their influences: Julian Lage and Sean Watkins

What set their set apart: She was joined on stage by her sister, Abigail Zahasky, who provided accompaniment on the banjo.

The guitarist: Mark Herd

The instrument: a Rob Goldberg guitar

Their style: “Finger style I guess is probably the best way to describe it.”

Their influences: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and James Taylor

What set their set apart: Herd made use of finger picking and alternate tunings specifically to provide a different texture. “I was just looking for a theme,” Herd said.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @capweekly.


Mark Heard warms up before taking the stage at the Goldtown Theater for the Joy of Strings guitar showcase. The event presented by KTOO brought together musicians with many different approaches to the same instrument. “You never know if your fingers are loose until you’re on stage,” Heard said. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Mark Heard warms up before taking the stage at the Goldtown Theater for the Joy of Strings guitar showcase. The event presented by KTOO brought together musicians with many different approaches to the same instrument. “You never know if your fingers are loose until you’re on stage,” Heard said. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Ward F. Ward was the sole electric guitarist during the Joy of Strings show, Ward said he opted to go electric because the instrument allows him to make sounds that an acoustic guitar cannot make. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Ward F. Ward was the sole electric guitarist during the Joy of Strings show, Ward said he opted to go electric because the instrument allows him to make sounds that an acoustic guitar cannot make. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Ward F. Ward warms up in the hallway in the Emporium building before taking the stage at the Goldtown Theater for the Joy of Strings. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Ward F. Ward warms up in the hallway in the Emporium building before taking the stage at the Goldtown Theater for the Joy of Strings. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Laura and Abigail Zahasky warm up before playing a bluegrass-influenced set at the Joy of Strings guitarist showcase. The sisters were the only act to include an instrument that wasn’t a guitar. Laura Zahasky swapped out a guitar for a mandolin and Abigail Zahasky accompanied her on the banjo. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Laura and Abigail Zahasky warm up before playing a bluegrass-influenced set at the Joy of Strings guitarist showcase. The sisters were the only act to include an instrument that wasn’t a guitar. Laura Zahasky swapped out a guitar for a mandolin and Abigail Zahasky accompanied her on the banjo. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

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