Jim Lewin admits he was skeptical.
But, the owner of The York Emporium couldn't say no to this loyal customer, a guy named Shane Speal who'd made a career of building and playing homemade instruments. Lewin accepted Speal's invitation to a show featuring music strummed on a cigar-box guitar.
Three years later, Lewin is not just a fan of cigar-box guitars and the bluesy sounds they make. He's hosting another festival dedicated to the musical subculture.
Lewin's used-book and curiosity shop at 343 W. Market St. will transform into a music venue on Saturday, Aug. 25 for a daylong festival featuring 14 bands, all of which have one thing in common - cigar-box guitars.
The music, Lewin said, is "raw and gritty."
Now in its third year, the Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival is attracting more bands and more vendors each year, Lewin said. Two stages at the Emporium will feature 14 acts who hail from all over the East Coast and Midwest.
Among them are Speal, a York musician who's come to be known as the "king of the cigar-box guitar," and headliner Glenn Kaiser of the 1970s-1980s Resurrection Band. Kaiser will wrap up the festival with a 5 p.m. show on the Emporium's outdoor stage.
Organizers announced the event's lineup Monday at a press conference complete with York-based swing dancers and Speal strumming his one-of-a-kind guitars.
The free event will start at 10 a.m., with each of the two stages changing acts every hour. It's open to the public and will coincide with Yorkfest, the city's annual music and arts festival centered in the downtown arts district.
On the Friday night before the festival, the Emporium will open its doors for a party and jam session, Lewin said.
"A lot of musicians are going to be here jamming," he said.
Who's when: Schedule of performances for the Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival, hosted by The York Emporium on Saturday, Aug. 25:
10 a.m. 7 Hills Stomp (outdoor stage)
11 a.m. Johnny Stompbox and the Stompers (outdoor stage) and One String Willie (indoor stage)
Noon Muckland Crooners (outdoor stage) and Color of Skies (indoor stage)
1 p.m. Voodoo Highway (outdoor stage) and Justin Johnson (indoor stage)
2 p.m. James Day and the Fish Fry (outdoor stage) and Mighty John B. (indoor stage)
3 p.m. Shane Speal (outdoor stage) and Stone Breath (indoor stage)
4 p.m. April May and the Junebugs (outdoor stage) and JC Fisher Band (indoor stage)
5 p.m. Glenn Kaiser (outdoor stage)
- Erin James may also be reached at email@example.com.