John Palumbo talks Tosin Abasi, and explains how Replay Guitar Exchange is creating a new guitar culture in South Tampa (w/photos)

Mondays are usually the worst, but that wasn’t the case on May 22 when Animals As Leaders principal Tosin Abasi took some time off from touring to jet up to Tampa’s Replay Guitar Exchange for a free guitar clinic.

The extended session — complete with candid anecdotes and lots of guitar shredding — was meant to pimp the Fishman pickups in Abasi’s custom eight-string Ibanez, and the capacity-crowd ate it up, but it was also a quiet reminder that the retail store is bringing a little guitar culture to the South Tampa.

After the event, Replay marketing director John Palumbo talked to CL about the challenges surrounding a high-profile appearance like Abasi’s and why Replay’s owner, Kyle Bailey, has a vision to create an environment that transcends simple retail sales.

Have a look at some photos and read a Q&A with Palumbo — below.

What was the estimated attendance for the Tosin Abasi clinic?

110-140. We were a t capacity for this one.

How’s that compare to previous clinics?

Well known artist events are typically well attended; this one seems to have a slightly higher attendance compared to similar past events.

Talk about the rarity or difficulty of securing clinics with artists as popular as Tosin coming to your store.

There are so many challenges when securing popular artists. Their schedules often present the greatest challenge. In some cases, like with Jacky Vincent (former Falling In Reverse, currently Cry Venom) or David Ellefson (Megadeth), myself (former Marketing & Artist Relations for Dean Guitars) and/or our lessons coordinator, Rich Ross (a touring bass player himself – Freddy Jones Band, ) have worked in the industry a while, and we have personal relationships with artists where we can circumnavigate the normal channels and secure an event date.

In other cases, however, we are working through the music manufacturer that the artist endorses (and whose products we carry) to work out details and availability. So essentially, the manufacturer is doing all the heavy lifting in dealing with the artist, their management, tour manager, etc… to see if timing/needs would work out. Touring schedules for album cycles not coming to Tampa or surrounding areas, recording schedules, and the like present the greatest challenge to securing A-list artists for events.

Additionally, not all artists are keen to do these types of events, or have historically done them a lot and no longer wish to do so. Some events require us to coordinate all the travel needs of the artist, in addition to the technical needs at the store day-of. So essentially, they are all rare and difficult, just varying by degrees.

So how did the Tosin Abasi event play out?

For the Tosin event, it almost didn’t happen. The original event date provided by Fishman Electronics was blocked when Animals As Leaders secured another tour date to fill a gap in their schedule. Fishman Business Development Manager Kevin White and Fishman Product Manager and Artist Relations Ken Susi went above and beyond working with Tosin and his team to make the alternate date work in between tour dates on what was supposed to be a travel day for Tosin. Tosin is an amazing guitarist and person, and was willing to sacrifice a day off on an already grueling schedule to accommodate us.

What are the chances of seeing this type of thing at Replay again soon?

I am constantly on the phone and email after scouring touring schedules and artist info to make this type of event more of a regular happening at Replay. The reality is, with so many moving parts, and the artists literally being moving targets, we are beyond fortunate to have had as many as we have. We are always looking to secure phenomenal musicians to share with our customers, and to highlight the products that make them unique. That said, we are looking to have events at this level as often as we can feasibly secure them and hope to do so every other month. Replay’s owner, Kyle Bailey, has a vision to create an environment that transcends simple retail sales, and these events are a huge part of that vision. 

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