Sweetwater's GearFest 2015 Draws Record Crowd

Sweetwater has announced that GearFest 2015, held June 12-13, was the company's most successful to date. Attendance was record-breaking, with more than 10,100 participants, up 27 percent over 2014, and with sales up by more than 35 percent over last year.

Launched in 2002, Sweetwater's free, annual GearFest is the nation's largest customer-focused music and pro-audio festival, featuring exhibits from more than 400 manufacturers, workshops, clinics, seminars, live demos, special performances and a musician's flea market.

This year's two-day event, which took place at Sweetwater's corporate headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, provided opportunities for musicians, engineers and producers to participate in the festivities, with customers traveling from all over the world to attend.

Featured guests included Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, founding member of Steely Dan, and session guitarist for the Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Sheryl Crow; Deep Purple vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes; Shawn Pelton, drummer for Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, and Van Morrison; bassist Nathan East, who has worked with Barry White, George Harrison, Sting, and Stevie Wonder; and guitarist Mike Stern, who has performed with such jazz greats as Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, and Jaco Pastorius. Other musicians included guitarists Mark Colcomb and Javier Reyes, as well as keyboardist Steve Weingart.

Sweetwater's Mitch Gallagher hosted a panel discussion with three pioneers of synthesis and electronic instruments: Roger Linn, Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith.

Housed in 19 tents, GearFest included more than 200 workshops and seminars on guitar, recording, live sound, music creation with computers, acoustics, songwriting and how to use electronic instruments.

"This year's GearFest was one of the most exciting and humbling experiences of my career," said Chuck Surack, Sweetwater founder and president. "I personally greeted thousands of our customers at the front door as they arrived and was astounded by the enthusiasm everyone seemed to have for Sweetwater, GearFest, and, in particular, for their interactions with our incredible employees. That, along with its continued growth in overall attendance and sales, has made GearFest a truly unique event in the music retail business."