Guitar players now have a sanctuary in McKinney

Guitar players now have a sanctuary
By J.B. Blocker, Viewpoint
You don’t have to die to go to Guitar Heaven!
In the heart of Collin County lies Adriatica, a 45-acre Mediterranean village reproduction. Go to West Virginia and Stonebridge on the west side of McKinney.

Music from above

If you happen to be strolling around the stonework streets of Adriatica, while you are admiring the architecture and landscape of the inner urban community, you might hear the sounds of a guitar coming from the bell tower. That would be George Fuller the builder/contractor up there trying out some of his newest guitar discoveries.

When he is not building or participating in community development, George answers to a higher power. He plays lead guitar for a band named for his wife, the Maylee Thomas Band. The higher power is a devotion to God, Family, and Guitars.

GuitArch Angels

There are guitar prodigies all over the world. There might be one under your roof. I’ve known people who can pick up just about any musical instrument and instantly make a connection. Don’t be surprised if it’s your son or daughter who is just waiting for the opportunity and inspiration to become the next Taylor Swift or even John Lennon.

But it takes more than talent to make it as a musician. The difference in instruments can change everything! The way it fits your body, your hands, and your personality all come together when you sit down with the right guitar. Knowing equipment and accessories is a must, and associating with better musicians is the catalyst to improving your art.

The first time I visited the Guitar Sanctuary, I was greeted by an old acquaintance Quinten Hope. He’s the kind of guitar player that makes my fingers ache. If you are a guitar player, and you watch somebody really good, you automatically try to air guitar along. When their talent is out of your league, your fingers get tangled in knots trying to copy the riffs and make the transitions.

Guys like Quinten, George and a host of other local guitar talent work, hang around, and teach at the Sanctuary. They can show you how to play that chord that has the 5 spots arranged in some ridiculous pattern on the guitar tablature.

The tablature is music copy with those little boxes with black spots that appear above the lines of sheet music and show chord transitions and how to make that chord. The problem for beginners is figuring out how you make five fingers move around the neck and cover those black spots. And if you don’t have the tablature for the music, how do you transition from a Bb7 to an Eb7sus. How do you even make an Eb7sus?

The really talented and seasoned pros had someone to teach them the tricks along the way. For the lucky beginners who have access to the pros, the learning curve changes dramatically.

Kiss the Girls

Two things have to happen to turn the tide for a budding guitarist.

First of all, finding the instrument that fits you is like finding a lover. To find that connection, you really need to play the field. You know, kiss a lot of girls! It will be worth it.

When you find that guitar and take her home with you, you will fall asleep with her in your lap. You will have her strategically resting within arms length of your favorite chair. You will talk to her with your fingers, and she will magically talk back with sounds that started somewhere between your head and your heart. Those sounds are finally spoken from the hollow depths of wood and electronics.

Expert dating advise

I walked in to the Guitar Sanctuary and behold! Beautiful variations of a woman’s form in a full range of colors and embellishments cover the walls. I am looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars hanging on Georges custom made racks like wall flowers at a debutants ball.

I greet Quinten who is the store manager, and I instantly know I have a new guitar resource always at the ready. He can’t run, he can’t hide, he works there!

I haven’t had a real Guitar haven since the days of Earl Swinford’s studio/guitar shop in Lubbock, Texas.

It was a place where the elite of Lubbock’s guitar world hung out. It was my entry into the world of 6 strings. Oh, I was already playing little steak house gigs for tuition, but I didn’t have much range past Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, and others noted for easy 3 chord progressions. I couldn’t transpose and I stumbled mightily with the chord complexities of many of the Beatles, John Denver, and the Eagles songs that were in my vocal wheel house.

I can thank a dozen or more players who showed me the way while I was discovering new guitar models and new electronic gizmos.

I can’t abide the big super music stores. Piano players are selling flutes and guitars they have never played. The chance of someone knowing how to use different effects boxes is slim and bad information is as rampant as lack of knowledge. They sell Wal-mart versions and knock off accessories because sales are more important than customer satisfaction.

If you were to find a competent sales associate, they probably wouldn’t still be working there the next time you stop by. I quit stopping by those big boxes years ago.

As George Fuller promises, “Everything in here is here for a reason, and we know the reasons. Every new guitar and effect gets played with because we can’t help it! It is our own candy store.”

Guitarist like Quinten and George love to share their knowledge and will happily strap you in and turn you on to the world of guitars and effects.

Just Flirting

I spied a Martin acoustic and strapped in. Behind me, a Takamini much like my own kept staring at me until I had to change partners. Next to the Takamini was a Collins special edition flirting with me. I am so fickle!

But while I’m playing the Collins, two ladies kept winking at me from across the room. They were Paul Reed Smith custom acoustics. Beautiful works of art with details of fine rare woods, intricate inlays, and custom hardware. I shyly put away the Collins with her clean clear tones, and I tentatively reached for one of the PRSmith girls.

Once she was safely in my embrace, she began to talk back to me! With tones that were astonishingly deep and rich! She sang a new song. One that I had heard in my head but it was music that had gotten lost in the translation through my own guitar.

Uh oh! My love for my Takamini just changed. I instantly realize that I might have been dating the wrong girl. No wonder my music seemed flat and lifeless.

I looked up at Quinten and his always sheepish grin. I held the PR Smith sister away from me and said to Quinten, “I’m not sure I’m worthy!” He looked back and knowingly responded, “I know what you mean!”

This is Guitar Heaven!

There is a lot more to this story but I said there were 2 things a guitar player needs. First, you need a guitar that you can dance with like a seasoned partner, and secondly, you need continuous knowledge and inspiration like flowers need rain! Knowledge is inspirational!

Get Some! at a sanctuary for the guitarist at heart. Bring your prodigy and meet some of Collin Counties Guit Arch Angels.

You might even get some autographs when you are there! You never know who might be there. You might be seeing them on the big stages.

They had better not be dancing with my girl! I’m saving for the engagement ring that is engraved JB loves PR Smith!

J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney.

Smiles for Habitat concert Sunday night

Time to gather family and friends and stroll over to the Croatian village of Adriatica to see and hear the music of Gavin DeGraw, the Maylee Thomas Band, Tommy Katona and watch tons of kids hopping in the jump houses. Sunday is when McKinney gathers for Smiles for Habitat.

“Build a Home, Create a Smile”
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday May 30th
Where: 6595 W. Virginia Pkwy at Stonebridge west of U.S. 75 and East of Custer Road in McKinney.
Located in McKinney’s Adriatica, a European style planned development that’s a Croatian village, behind the offices of Dr. Jennifer Buchanan near intersection of Virginia Pkwy. and Stonebridge Road.
Weather: Smiles for Habitat is a rain or shine event with no rain in the forecast that calls for temperatures in the mid-90s.
Concert lineup: Emcee Johnny B. of 97.5 KLAK
National Anthem
Memorial Day tribute to veterans including flyover by WWII era airplanes, weather permitting
Opening Band: Tommy Katona
Presentation by Dr. Jennifer Buchanan, Simpson Strong Tie and Habitat for Humanity to Tracy Sawyer
First round of raffle ticket drawings announced on stage
Second Band: The Maylee Thomas Band
High School recognitions
Second round of raffle ticket drawings
Headlining Act: Gavin DeGraw
Third and final round of raffle ticket drawings

Cash or Credit Card: Cash, VISA, and Mastercard will be accepted!
See Admission/Tickets information.
Admission to the concert and festival is free, but this is a charity
event raising money for Habitat for Humanity through several avenues so please plan to help us out:
T-shirts for $10
Raffle Tickets for $10 each or 3 for $20
Concessions will be sold by various food and drink vendors.

Concession tickets can be purchased during the concert and festival as individual vendors will only accept concession tickets.

T-shirts, raffle tickets, and concession tickets will be sold in the “Main Tent” located near the vendor and concession tents.
Cash, VISA, and Mastercard will be accepted.

Festival Lineup: Games 2U
Video game truck
Hamster balls
bounce house
obstacle course
rock climbing wall
Sugar and Spice Girly Girl Parties
Air brush tattoos

Raffle Items: Raffle Tickets are on sale before the concert at Dr. Jennifer Buchanan’s office located at 6595 W. Virginia Pkwy, McKinney 75071. Raffle Tickets will also be sold during the concert and festival.

Raffle Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $20

Raffle items will be announced on stage throughout the night. Winners need not be present to win.

Raffle Items
Jonas Brothers autographed book and T-shirt
Sugarland autographed guitar
Darius Rucker autographed guitar
Darius Rucker autographed CD
Gavin DeGraw autographed CD
John Mayer tickets – 2 tickets to September 4th concert at Center
Brittany Lang (LPGA) autographed CD
Rascal Flatts autographed CD
Jeff Gordon autographed die cast car
iPod Touch
$25 iTunes gift card

Seating: All seating is outdoor on a first come, first serve basis. Blankets, lawn chairs, cushions may be brought in but standing is also allowed so be polite to patrons in your vicinity. We want everyone to enjoy the concert and festival so be kind, share your space, and get to know those sitting around you. You can help put the “friendly” in this community and family friendly event.
Do’s and Don’ts:
In the interest of public safety, patrons will not be allowed to enter the concert premises with any of the following: coolers, picnic baskets, food, drinks, contraband, weapons, skateboards, roller blades, scooters, bikes, laser pointers, Frisbees, and professional camera equipment. “Professional camera equipment” is defined as any camera with a detachable lens.
As lovable as they are, please do not bring pets!
Event photographers will be capturing the event with still photos and video. By entering the concert and festival premises you automatically give permission to Smiles for Habitat to use any photographs/videos of you at the event in future publications and advertising.
Blankets, cushions, and lawn chairs are allowed. Please use common courtesy when sharing your space with these items. Please realize some patrons may choose to stand during portions of the concert.
Personal audio and video recorders will be allowed in the festival area, however, our entertainment contracts disallow audio and video recording within the designated concert zones. Unauthorized sales, solicitations, and distributions are prohibited during the concert and festival. The backstage area is off-limits to the public. Persons entering the site may be subject to search for any prohibited items. Smiles for Habitat reserves the right to refuse admission to or remove any person violating the outdoor venue, concert and festival equipment, local, state or federal laws or whose conduct is deemed illegal, disorderly, or offensive by management.
Parking will be located in Adriatica using the entrance from Stonebridge Dr. Parking attendants will be available to guide traffic. Nearby parking is also available in the Albertson’s parking lot across the street on the NW corner of Stonebridge Dr. and Virginia Pkwy.
Satellite parking will also be available at the following locations with trolley service to/from the concert site from 4:00 – 11:00pm.
•YMCA of McKinney at 300 Ridge Road
•United Methodist Church at 1800 S. Stonebridge Dr.
•Crosspoint Church – 2101 S. Stonebridge Dr.




“In Love with a Girl” video

Please jump to to see her video.

Farmers Market springs up in Adriatica

By Marthe Stinton,
Reprinted with permission of the McKinney Courier-Gazette
One of the clearest signs of the season is new life, which is exactly what the Historic McKinney Farmers Market is celebrating with the new Adriatica Farmers Market.

The Historic McKinney Farmers Market is venturing out to west McKinney and making a new home in Adriatica — a Croatian-inspired village complete with a lake, chapel, lawn and shops. Although the ribbon cutting is scheduled for mid-April and there has been little advertising for the market, vendors have tiptoed into the Stonebridge Ranch community bringing with them produce, meats, flowers and more.

“We’re taking people back to the way shopping was done before,” said Cindy Johnson, executive director for the Heritage Guild of Collin County. “It builds a sense of community and more.”

Vendors are currently setting up in a parking lot while their permanent residence is under construction and, as of last week, a large temporary sign will soon be placed for the market.

“One of the challenges we’ve had has been letting people know we are here and what we offer,” Johnson said.

However, at last Thursday’s market there were not only two meat vendors, but a flower vendor and a jewelry vendor who had made the trek to nestle into their new market digs. With this turnout it seems sellers are not discouraged by the lack of advertising, nor do they shy away from the new venture.

More vendors are expected to join once the weather gets warmer and the market gets bigger.

The Blackard Group, developers for Adriatica, says they have always wanted an authentic farmers market. According to Puc Westrupp, a spokesperson for the Blackard Group, the long-term plan for the Adriatica Farmers Market is to put the market in permanent stalls down by the Adriatica field.

“These stalls each come equipped with running water, electricity, air and heat, and are roofed with clay tiles just like the rest of the village,” Westrupp said. “We will be starting construction of these stalls within the next month.”

The builders, especially Jeff Blackard, have emphasized the fact that the Croatian-inspired village needs to be authentic and have all of the components one would see in a real Croatian village.

“Europeans for years have been able to keep the essence of community by living village life on a daily basis,” Westrupp said. “The end goal for Adriatica is just that — you can truly walk out your front door and step straight into village life and all the benefits that come with it.”

Johnson agrees with Blackard’s vision, adding, “The whole themed market really makes it a destination.”

The Stonebridge Ranch Community Association is also welcoming the new market and sees it as a hot commodity for the area.

“Many residents will appreciate the close proximity of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables in an open-air market, and when the remainder of the harbor district is complete, it will be even better,” said Pablo Ruiz, Stonebridge Ranch community association board president.

The Historic McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square is open 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday. The Adriatica Farmers Market is open from 1 to 5 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday. For information visit or call 972-562-8790.


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