Although Edgar Cruz may not dance on stage, his fingers certainly do, up and down the neck of his guitar. The eyes say one man is on stage, but the ears might swear it’s a band. Cruz’s fingers breathe the life of many into a single guitar whether he’s playing "Bohemian Rhapsody,” "Ghost Riders in the Sky” or "Wipe Out.” That alone makes him a must, much like the strawberry crepes, at the Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City. "People like a good variety of entertainment, and solo guitarists are rare around this part of the country,” Cruz said. "People will say how does this guy do it by himself?” Getting its start in 1967, the Festival of the Arts is a community celebration of the visual arts, performing arts and culinary arts. Just about 10 years later, Cruz became a regular contributor to that celebration. During the bicentennial year of our nation, he started playing the guitar and within in a short time had built quite a repertoire of songs. "At that time I was interested in getting any exposure I could,” he said of his teen years. "I inquired about who was in charge of the entertainment. I started playing the Festival of the Arts when it was still in front of the Civic Center.” Now, he makes about 200 to 250 appearances a year from concerts to private performances. He has appeared across the United States and in Europe, Mexico and South America. But the excitement of playing the festival, only a short distance from where he grew up, has never waned. "I always receive an excellent response,” he said. "Some are people who come back year after year to hear me, but many are new fans. "This festival is one of the highlights of my year.” Cruz has recorded 16 CDs and two DVDs. He’s been a headliner at The Chet Atkins Guitar Festival in Nashville, Tenn., since 1995 and plays many festivals, performing Latin, classical, international, rock, jazz, mariachi, Christmas and original pieces. He said it was a couple of spectators one year at the Festival of the Arts who helped him gain television exposure in Oklahoma. "Butch and Ben McCain were at the festival one year watching me perform, and they invited me onto their show and I was on there for quite a while after that,” Cruz said. That led to other television invites. And playing the festival each year has another perk. "One of the benefits of playing at the Festival of the Arts is that the stage manager lets me park behind the stage and gives me x-amount of time before I have to move,” he said. "I use that x-amount of time to look around at all of the great art. I love that.”
Today’s performing arts events
Cafe Stage→Opening Ceremonies — 11 a.m. →Bricktown Clown Alley – Clowns — Noon →Justin Echols – Traditional Jazz — 1 p.m. →Broken Dream – Rock — 2 p.m. →David Dunn – Folk/Rock/Acoustic — 3 p.m. →Life Change Ballroom – Dance — 4 p.m. →Mike Black & The Stingrays – Rock — 5 p.m. →Hoppy Niles & One Arm Bandit – Rock — 6 p.m. →The Al Good Orchestra – Instrumental — 7:30 p.m.
Children’s Stage→Dance Dimensions – Dance — Noon →Harmony Hawks – Choral — 12:20 p.m. →Earlywine Echoes – Dance — 1 p.m. →Amber Wood – Pop — 2 p.m. →Central Chorale – Choral — 3 p.m. →Destined 2 Dance – Dance — 4 p.m. →Edmond Youth Chorus – Choral — 5 p.m. →Festival Idol Competition — 6 p.m. →Sellers Dance Performing Group – Dance — 7:30 p.m.
Water Stage→See Opening Ceremonies on the Cafe Stage — 11 a.m. →Maurice Johnson – Contemporary Jazz — Noon →Acoustic Lighting – Pop/Soft Rock — 1 p.m. →Demetrius Sha’mon Gibson – Variety — 2 p.m. →Pamela Rise and Ginisys – Soul/Contemporary Gospel — 3 p.m. →2nd Street – Rock — 4 p.m. →The Sweepers – Rock — 5 p.m. →The Blue Chair Band – Rock/Pop/Variety — 6 p.m. →Jackson’s Brew – Pop/Jazz/R&B — 7:30 p.m.