Fatigued by the antics of the Open Carry gun movement, a posse of Dallas musicians held a good-natured protest on July 4 on a downtown bridge, where they strutted wearing guitars slung over their shoulders.
Dubbed The Open Carry Guitar Rally, the event was conceived by musician and artist Barry Kooda, who said that the point of the gathering was to be "pro guitar" and not anti-anything. "I am not anti-gun, I am pro-guitar," he said.
The rally was embraced by the local music community, with more than 1,000 RSVPs on the event's Facebook page. Although the original impetus was to underscore the silliness of bringing a rifle into a place like Target, there was a deliberate focus on guitars, not guns. (On July 2, Target announced its intent to request that guests not bring firearms to Target.)
"We love guitars and I like that this was a satirical poke at the Open Carry movement," said Kyle Reynolds, who helped orchestrate the event. "I think those Open Carry guys are ridiculous, and this follows in the tradition of Frank Zappa, to point out the absurdity of something."
The rally had no structure beyond a desire to come together and mingle. But with Kooda – who played in seminal bands such as the Nerverbreakers and The Cartwrights – as the ringleader, it felt mostly like a local music reunion. The who's who included Arthur Stevens from the Rodeo Love Gods, Kinley Wolfe from American Fuse, MC 900 Foot Jesus, Bobby Beeman, Mat Dick – who attached wah-wah pedals to the bottom of his shoes – Spyche Elijah Bonjiovi, Reid Robinson, and hundreds more, plus familiar figures such as Angus Wynne, Mike Snider, Jeff Liles, Frank Campagna and Paula Harris.
Artist Dana Buck made special-occasion T-shirts with a snake encircling a guitar and the slogan, "Don't Shred on Me."
Some played guitar gently, but performing wasn't the point. "It's about showing up with your guitar and having fun," said Katrina Whatley, who brought her son Jackson and mother Kathy Diffee.
After some low-key loitering on the bridge, the group formed a big circle, hoisting their guitars in the air, so that photographer David Worthington could take a panoramic shot.
"If you see Open Carry Texas, they're drawing 10 people – Open Guitar is more than 1,000 people," Reynolds said. "We aren't outnumbered. We need to come out once in a while and show that we've got reasonable people here."