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Livermore Vine: Rock history on display at the Bankhead

‘It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)’ showcases evolution of electric guitar
“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” debuted at the UNCLE Credit Union Art Gallery at the Bankhead Theater earlier this spring and is set to be on display into the summer.

Tri-Valley residents have the opportunity to explore the history, technique and technology behind the rise and continued popularity of rock music over the past century, with an exhibit aimed at highlighting the evolution of the electric guitar and its relationship with the genre.

“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” debuted at the UNCLE Credit Union Art Gallery at the Bankhead Theater earlier this spring and is set to be on display into the summer, featuring a range of historic guitar models that bring to life the history of the early days of the instrument and its impact on music throughout the 20th century and today.

“The electric guitar played a crucial role in the sound of rock ‘n’ roll, with pioneers like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley bringing its twangy, distorted tones to the forefront of the music,” Livermore Valley Arts organizers said in a statement. “As rock ‘n’ roll evolved throughout the decades, the guitar continued to be a staple instrument in the genre, with iconic players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen pushing the limits of what could be done on the guitar.”

Anne Giancola, LVA visual arts and education manager, said that the idea of having an exhibit centered around guitars and the evolution of the electric guitar had been long considered by Bankhead organizers who were aware of longtime Livermore resident, businessman and musician Michael Ferruci’s expansive guitar collection.

“He owned a music store in town called Fine Fretted Friends, and so he was well-versed in all things music and had long, long ago started a collection,” Giancola said. “So this has been decades in the making. And I know Michael and my Executive Director Chris Carter knows Michael, so we just kind of had this germinate in the background.”

In addition to providing a majority of the guitars on display in the exhibit, Ferruci helped formulate the exact shape it would take and vision of what would be explored and explained in it.

“Michael formulated this idea of sort of doing a brief history of the electric guitar through the guitars themselves,” Giancola said.

In addition to being the driving force behind the exhibit, Ferruci will be the main attraction at a “Rock n’ Roll Roadshow” event this Saturday (June 3), during which community members can bring vintage guitars in for review and appraisal.

“It’s kind of like ‘Antiques Roadshow’, if you have an instrument but you don’t know much about it or just want to know if it’s valuable,” Giancola said.

While the exhibit itself and most of its associated activities are heavily centered on the presence of guitars, there is one exception — an “Air Guitar Contest” slated for next Thursday (June 8) in the theater — which is still in need of participants.

“I’m looking for air guitar contestants to get up on the Bankhead stage and do their thing,” Giancola said.

“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” is on display through July 9 for free during gallery hours from 1-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays at 2400 First St. in downtown Livermore.


Guitars on display in the “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll” exhibit at the UNCLE Credit Union Art Gallery in the Bankhead Theater range from older vintage models to rare collectors’ items, in addition to other rare instruments. Photo courtesy Livermore Valley Arts