“David Brandon has been a top influence in my son’s life. His excellent guitar instruction has catapulted my son to a level of playing that has made him stand out among his peers. Even more importantly, he is a model for my son’s character. That is something no one can put a price tag on!”

- G. Eddins, mom

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One of my most vivid guitar memories is at the intersection in the lives of two guitar greats, who had both been an influence on me and my students. The late guitar legend Chet Atkins had invited my wife and me to his Austin City Limits (PBS) taping in the late eighties. He graciously took us to dinner to his favorite Austin restaurant that served good ole down-home cooking and gave us tickets to his public concert the night after the taping. My wife and I were just about to go backstage and say hi to Chet when I ran into my friend Eric Johnson, who lives in Austin and was attending the concert. I asked him if he would be going back to see Chet, and he replied that he had never met him. I told him he could go backstage with us and that I would be happy to introduce them. Eric asked if his father, who was also at the concert, could come too. I said of course, and to go and get him. When we got backstage, I indeed did get to introduce Eric and his dad to Chet, who had also been a big influence on Eric as well.

Chet was gracious, as always. One of the greatest guitarists in the world, he was a true country gentleman. What impressed me most about these two musicians is the mutual respect and admiration, regardless of the style of music or level of fame. Eric was invited later to appear on a recording with Chet, an honor he shared with Jerry Reed, Doc Watson, Les Paul, George Benson, Earl Klugh, Liona Boyd, Mark Knopler, and Larry Carlton, among others. I felt privileged to witness the meeting of these two great guitarists for the first time and now, to continue sharing their music with students through the years.

As a footnote to that memorable moment, Willie Nelson made a surprise guest appearance at Chet’s concert that evening. Willie’s performance was very characteristic of his unique signature style. I’ve admired how Willie is able to use his old iconic Martin classical guitar, Trigger, (yes, the one with the big hole in the soundboard) so effectively in country music all these years. The two country legends had quite a history together, with Chet having produced many of the Willie Nelson hits at RCA in Nashville. Chet also kindly introduced my wife and me to Willie, who was as down to earth and humble as could be. Despite the great success of these musicians, they still treated people with sincerity and respect. In fact, Chet had a sign on his desk which read, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” Another lesson from one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

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