Mark Langford (right) welcomed classical guitarist Flavio Cucchi to the inaugural San Diego Guitar Society event in Balboa Park.
“It’s called the San Diego Guitar Society, and it’s an idea I’ve had for a while.” Mark Langford sits in his office at Rock and Roll San Diego and tells the Reader about his latest venture while the Ace Frehley Band rehearses in the facility’s sound studio. “They rented the space for nine days,” he says over the thunderous bass-and-drums booming through the walls.
Langford wants to build a fellowship, as he calls it, “of guitar fans who love the guitar, whether you play or just listen. It doesn’t matter. What’s unique about it is it’s an all-inclusive society. Lito Romero is artistic director. He’s been onboard with me developing this. [Romero is the classical guitar director at Rock and Roll San Diego.] I want bluegrass, jazz, funk — anything the members want. If we can build a strong fellowship of guitar performers and enthusiasts, it’s so much better.”
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Langford was a guitarist in San Diego band Bible Black during the 1980s. Later, he expanded his horizons to include classical guitar. “I did things backward. Then, I got into flamenco. I still play it every single day.” Three years ago, Langford, who previously owned a sound and lighting company that he says provided gear for everything from Street Scene to Adams Avenue, opened Rock and Roll San Diego in a large commercial building near the Sports Arena. Essentially a rock-arts school for pre-teens and teens, the enterprise includes lessons and repair, a recording studio, rehearsal rooms, and retail.
But the San Diego Guitar Society genre mix: will headbangers really hang with classical pickers?
“I think if I tell them about Jimmy Page or Randy Rhoads, or people that went on to make great rock and roll that played classical in the beginning, yes. I know there’s going to be those who are only into what they’re into. But my hope is that by bringing in some cool workshops, it will open their eyes.”
Langford made a deal with the Serra Museum in Presidio Park to house the Guitar Society. “It’s a beautiful facility with terra cotta floors and high ceilings. We got a year’s worth of contracts. We’ll be there once a month.” Flavio Cucchi, a classical guitarist from Spain, kicked off the series in November. “I’m hoping to talk to Ace,” Langford says. “He just came out with a book. I’m hoping he will come in and talk about it. He lives here in town now — over by Balboa Park.”