Guitar Center Announces Winners of GC Lessons Crossroads Contest

Guitar Center, the world’s largest musical instrument retailer, announces the winners of its GC Lessons Crossroads Contest, held as part of the festivities around the 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Earlier this summer, GC Lessons students nationwide submitted videos showcasing their skills, which were judged by a diverse panel of Guitar Center employees. Two grand prize winners were selected – Daniel Castillo of Miami, FL, and Max French of Lancaster, PA – from a pool of video submissions. The contest was open to all Guitar Center Lessons students who were at least 16 years-old and currently learning guitar at any of the 300 plus lessons locations across the country.

The grand prize includes a free trip (flight and accommodations) for each winning student and one guest to Los Angeles, CA, to perform, accompanied by a band consisting of Guitar Center Lessons Instructors from the Northridge, Calif. store, on a special stage at the Guitar Center Village, located adjacent to the Crypto.com arena (the festival’s main stage site) at L.A. LIVE on Peacock Place and Chick Hearn Court. They will perform on September 23 and 24.

Daniel Castillo is a guitar student at the South Miami Guitar Center store, currently working with instructor Alex Escandon. Castillo credits the work of Eddie Van Halen for striking a chord with him early on and inspiring him to play guitar while listening to Van Halen’s classic songs with his father. He is also inspired by Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He began playing guitar during COVID lockdown and took it very seriously, practicing every day. He remarks, “I realized that the guitar gives me nothing but joy. What keeps me motivated is trying to get better and better and learn new techniques and improve as a musician.” Last year, he auditioned for and was admitted to his high school’s rock ensemble class, and this year he is taking its honors concert band class.

Max French is a guitar student at the Lancaster Guitar Center store, currently working with instructor Jonas Kreitzer. As a 13-year-old in 2018, he began to dig into classic records – first the work of the Beatles, and then his Uncle Mark’s record collection, which ranged from the 60s to the 80s. “These albums helped me learn not just about guitar, but also keyboards, bass, and drums. I relate most to a lot of the artists from the 60s and 70s,” he notes. “All my free time at this point is either practicing, listening to music or talking to my friends who are also greatly interested in music. Everyone I know right now, I would never have met, if I didn’t play guitar.” He plans on applying to Berklee College of Music for Fall 2024.

“These talented students represent the next generation of musicians, and we are beyond proud that they have been able to hone their craft with the amazing instructors within our GC Lessons program,” said Dr. Donny Gruendler, Vice President of Music Education at Guitar Center. “We cannot wait for them to perform at the GC Village and showcasing their talents along with some of the world’s best guitarists, which is the ultimate reward for all their hard work.”

For more information on the 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival’s 25th Anniversary Guitar Collection, visit guitarcenter.com/Crossroads.gc.

For more information about the Crossroads Guitar Festival, visit crossroadsguitarfestival.com.