|Industry Leadership Award 2014 - Dean Kamei|
Dean Kamei was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 20, 1950. Aside from organized baseball and football, his interest in music started with ukulele and trumpet lessons at the age of 9 but quickly moved on to the guitar by the age of 12. After learning a couple of essential chords, Dean was asked by several friends to join their surf band. The Kamei family moved to Lodi, California in 1964 where Dean continued playing the guitar in all of his spare time. Though totally involved with playing in rock bands from 1962 to 1971, his interests and influences were quite wide and varied, including folk, blues, jazz, country, and classical.
When asked by friends at a local music store (The Music Box) in Lodi, Dean started teaching guitar and working in the store in the late 60s. After disbanding his last rock group in the early 70s, he moved to Cupertino, California where he studied music at De Anza Jr. College and taught various guitar styles at World of Music. During this time, he lived for a year in the house of a phenomenal guitarist named Bill Snowden who influenced his classical technique and understanding of the style in a profound and influential way. While totally engrossed in studying and learning the repertoire, a major frustration during this period was the lack or total absence of classical guitar music in local music stores.
In 1973, Dean decided to teach and sell music and accessories out of his own studio and so started Guitar Studio at 332 Gough Street in San Francisco. He felt a need for a shop where acoustic guitarists could find all the information and materials they needed to continually advance their craft. Having previously had such incredible difficulties in finding classical guitar music, he immediately started searching for suppliers and began selling classical guitar music in the shop and through the mail with his first catalog - typed on a manual typewriter, printed page by page on a friend's mimeograph machine, then hand assembled and stapled.
A few years later, after a move to 1433 Clement Street and expanded operations, Dean first traveled to Europe where he sought and found many sources for the vast quantities of classical guitar music available there - Guitar Studio's music stock and mail order services started to grow exponentially. At that time, most known Spanish guitars were being made in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, and Alicante. A true revelation during this exploratory trip were the great guitar makers of Granada. Among many, but most notable were Antonio Marin Montero and Manuel Bellido - at the time sharing a shop together. He started importing and introducing these marvelous guitars to US guitarists soon after. In the early 80's with more expansion, the business name was changed from Guitar Studio to Guitar Solo.
Still not content with the choices available in music and materials for the guitar, in 1985 Dean started publishing guitar music under the name of Guitar Solo Publications (GSP), starting with Maria Carolina and La Catira by Antonio Lauro, Piazzolla's Adios Nonino arranged by Agustin Carlevaro, and Sakura Variations by Yuquijiro Yocoh. Since that beginning, the catalog has expanded to over 265 titles by composers and arrangers like Dusan Bogdanovic, Roland Dyens, Andrew York, William Kanengiser, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Eduardo Martin, Eliot Fisk, David Tanenbaum and many others. Several years after meeting long time idol Luiz Bonfa and publishing four of his solo guitar pieces, a first trip to Brazil in the early 90s was another revelation for Dean. There he encountered an immense amount of uncirculated original guitar music and immediately started publishing the transcriptions and original music of Garoto, Dilermando Reis, Paulino Nogueira, Isaias Savio, Baden Powell, Laurindo Almeida, Paulo Bellinati, and Marco Pereira among others.
In 1989, Dean started GSP Recordings with a double CD of David Tanenbaum playing the essential studies: Sor's 20 Studies, Brouwer's 20 Estudios, and Carcassi's 25 Studies. Since that time there have been dozens of highly acclaimed GSP recordings by Paulo Bellinati, Andrew York, William Kanengiser, Marco Pereira, Cristina Azuma, Roland Dyens, Xuefei Yang, Raphael Rabello, Iliana Matos, Eduardo Martin, Philip Hii, Martha Masters, and Dusan Bogdanovic among others. After learning from working closely with very talented engineers for many of these recordings, in the early 2000s Dean began engineering, mixing, and mastering his productions from start to finish - using acoustically sound rooms and studios for tracking, then mixing and mastering in his own studio. Whenever possible, matching recordings with printed music, already published or released with the recording, was of considerable importance.
In the early 90's, Dean was introduced to unique nylon treble strings with rich tone and a sustained singing quality - at the time not being used by any of the major string companies. Soon after, during a determined search period, he found a foreign source for a very unique multifilament nylon which could be used as the core material for classical guitar bass strings. Thus the beginning of GSP Strings: Super and Ultra Nylons. When introduced to a new composite by his monofilament manufacturer, Super and Ultra Hybrid Trebles, with a little more power and focus, were added to the catalog.
Other GSP products for guitarists include a glass nail file, 3 grade nail buffer, nail finishing papers, and microfiber polish cloths.
In the mid 90s, needing more operational and storage space, the retail store (Guitar Solo) and the mail order/publishing (GSP) were separated and a new location for the latter was established at 514 Bryant Street in the south of Market district of San Francisco. In 2000, this part of the business was again moved 2 blocks away to 230 Townsend Street. A second retail store was opened at this new location a couple of years after this move. A few years later, to consolidate resources, the Clement Street store was closed leaving the 230 Townsend Street store the remaining walk-in location.
Guitar Solo continues to be a resource for guitar professionals and enthusiasts, with a comprehensive selection of steel and nylon string acoustic guitars, and an immense inventory of music for all styles of guitar with an extra emphasis on classical. GSP printed editions, CDs, and Strings continue to have international recognition and distribution.