Guitarmageddon: A musical marvel


Lance Brownfield

On Tuesday, April 20, guitar seminar students from OBU and HSU played their first Guitarmageddon since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Five microphones, four electric guitars, one acoustic guitar, one electric bass, and a drum kit. Sounds like a show at one of the big venues in Little Rock, right? Well, it actually took place at OBU’s Evans Student Center last Tuesday.


The showcase of students shredding and soloing was accompanied by Dr. Bruce Johnston, a lecturer of music at the university. Johnston played drums during the hour and a half set.


“I named it Guitarmageddon because in all honesty, I expect it to be a bit on the ‘excessive/bordering on obnoxious’ side of things,” said Johnston via email. “There is never really a need to have five or six guitars on stage at the same time.”


During the performance, the band covered hits from The Beatles, Steve Miller Band and The Doobie Brothers as well as several instrumentals. Their rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was slightly darker and more brooding than the original on account of the thick, rich sound made by so many guitars.


Austin Murberger’s expressive tremolo picking really set the song off. Murberger is a sophomore music major at Henderson. Him and junior music major Zach Tabor both participated in the OBU event as Reddies.


“It’s kind of an exchange program for guitar,” said Johnston.


The event is part of a course called Guitar Seminar and is designed to get students used to playing popular songs for venues, parties and weddings. Johnston has put on the event once a semester for five years. This time it was a special performance for the class since COVID-19 cancelled the show for the last two semesters.


Instead of performing live this last fall, the class did a recording project. While Johnston said it went really well, they made the decision to mask up and get back on the stage this time around.


While the show is mostly centered around the guitars, there’s no real limit to what you might see. They’ve been accompanied by everything from opera singers to keyboard players in the past.


Josh Salmon and Ethan Kuntz, both senior music industry majors at OBU, took the lead on most songs. Kuntz’s gravelly voice was fitting for “Best of You” by The Foo Fighters. The two both had elaborate pedalboards to help them craft unique sounds.


Salmon sang “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, because according to Johnston his “voice is perfect for it.” Salmon had never even heard of the band before taking the class. This last show was the sixth and final one for Salmon.


“We all had a really good time playing some classic songs,” Salmon said via email. “We started running through the songs at the beginning of the semester, and each week we would meet to work on two to three.”


If you missed out on the show, do not fret. You can always see the next Guitarmageddon this November in the Evans Student Center at OBU.