Visiting Hill Country Guitars just a short drive southwest of Austin, Texas, you are greeted most days by Wyatt, the shop dog, and his laid back Texas owner, Dwain Cornelius. You’ll find three rooms lined with acoustic and some electric guitars and mandolins. There’s a Matchless amp by the big couch set on the clean pine floor. And the main room has the most wonderful natural reverb you could imagine. You play one guitar and all the others resonate. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.
Dwain is a fine specimen of what might be referred to colloquially as a ‘good old Texas boy,’ but with a heavy emphasis on the ‘good.’ He was raised on a big ranch. His family entertained a lot as he was coming up. He’s respectful.
On a recent visit, without a hint of bragging, Dwain told me he’d probably “met more famous people growing up than most people will see in a lifetime – governors, movie stars, the Houston Oilers football team, the King of the Zulus – and I was taught to say hello and make people feel welcome, and then leave them alone. If they showed an interest, then I was free to engage in conversation and to ask or answer questions.”
Dwain’s respectful upbringing is plain when you walk into the shop. He (and Wyatt) will greet you and then, both of them will leave you alone to spend time with the instruments. Dwain’s observant nature and his experience with music and people comes forward, when you ‘show an interest.’ Ask him about the Zulu King to get him talking. Or the guitars.