Archive for Monday, October 15, 2012


River City Jules: Guitar hero

October 15, 2012


It was a crisp autumn night. My husband had just treated his loving wife to dinner in Westport before strolling over to The Beaumont Club to see one of his favorite guitarists, Mark Tremonti, pair up with one of his favorite bassists, Wolfgang Van Halen, at this intimate concert venue.

The tickets were free, the air was cool, his date was hot.

For 45 head-banging minutes, my husband stood mere feet away from Wolfgang, who is not only a gifted musician in his own right, but the son of my husband’s all-time guitar hero, Eddie Van Halen.

So devoted to Eddie Van Halen is my dear husband, he petitioned hard and long for us to name our own son Wolfgang, just like Eddie did. (We compromised, and Luke Edward Dunlap fits him just fine.)

So inspired by Eddie Van Halen is my soul mate, he sold off two prized guitars to buy the first left-handed version of Eddie’s Wolfgang guitar.

So in awe of Eddie Van Halen is my usually cool-headed life partner that when Wolfgang tossed his guitar pick into the crowd that night, my husband spent most of the encore on his knees retrieving the rock relic. The look of joy on his face when he pulled the signature-striped guitar pick off the gooey bar floor outshined that of any child on any Christmas morning ever.

He didn’t think the night could get any better, but then Tremonti announced they would be greeting fans after the show.

Undertattooed and overdressed but riding high off the rare piece of swag, we waited to meet Tremonti, the younger Van Halen and bandmates while my husband formed a winning conversation-starter in his head, a line he nailed chatting it up with the stars of the show as we moved through the meet-and-greet.

The rockers were gracious, kind and personable, completing a night that would have remained forever etched in my husband’s memory as perfection, if only he had stayed off Twitter the next day and not read Wolfie’s announcement:

“So glad my pop got to see the #Tremonti gig tonight in KC!”

Apparently his “pop,” one Edward Van Halen, had been there too.

Suddenly the joy of the evening was replaced with gut-wrenching regret. My husband’s own Dutch-American idol had stood in the same room, and all he had to show for it was a guitar pick.

This was even worse than returning from North Carolina this summer to find his imaginary girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston, had been staying just a couple of miles away from us in the same sleepy beach town the whole time.

So close, yet so far.

But he still has his guitar pick. And his hot date. And the hope that he might someday meet the elder Van Halen. And really, that’s not too bad.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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