Four years ago, local musician Barry Huebner had an idea to have Dallasites wield guitars in public. In a tongue-in-cheek protest of Texas' open-carry gun laws, he called it an Open Carry Guitar Rally.
Four years later, the event is still drawing support. The next Open Carry Guitar Rally takes place Oct. 22 on the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge. More than 500 people listed themselves as "interested" on Facebook.
Huebner, who goes by the name Barry Kooda, first became known as a member of '70s punk rock band the Nervebreakers.
“It started when guys were carrying these assault rifles into Chili’s or Chipotle or whatever restaurant,” Huebner says. “I got tired of these guys with their open-carry guns, went out on the front porch, had my wife take pictures of me with some guitars, and it started the first one. I had said, ‘It’s time for us to be able to carry our guitars in public without fear of retribution.’ I was just kidding around, but it took off.”
"It's basically like a big ole '60s-style hippie gathering with a bunch of musical instruments." – Barry Huebner, Open Carry Guitar Rally founder
Five-hundred people showed up to his first event. By all accounts, it was a success, but Huebner says he made a few rookie mistakes.
“I didn’t have any permits or a place, time or date,” he says. “I had told my friends, ‘Look I’m probably going to jail; I have no permit. You guys want to be associated with me?’ And they said, ‘Hell yeah.’”
Huebner has learned since then, but he still likes to take a casual approach.
“You know, it’s amazing,” he says. “The more we plan, the less fun it is. It’s a lot more fun to let the people DIY it, and they can come up with much cooler stuff then we could ever think of.” One year, a guy showed up with working wah pedals mounted on his shoes.
The rally is intended as an opportunity for self-expression and to play some music. It's a 21st-century version of a "Be-In."
“It’s basically like a big ole '60s-style hippie gathering with a bunch of musical instruments,” Huebner says. “There is a lot of shared opinions and viewpoints, but it’s basically for a good time. And we want to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible.”
Kooda says people of all political persuasions, faiths and cultural backgrounds are welcome. The event is free and family friendly.
“There’s such a diverse group of people,” Kooda says. “We share commonalities, but everyone’s different. There’s some things we have in common and some things we don’t. But since we are all-inclusive, we let everybody come in with their own mindset.”
Open Carry Guitar Rally, 3-7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, 101 Continental Ave. Free. See Facebook.