Scott Allan Knost jokes that he'd like to introduce his guitar to Willie Nelson's famously battered ax. They both share holes in the top worn by long, hard playing.
"This is Guinevere," Knost said, strumming his acoustic. "His is Trigger. I've been trying to set up a play date but I haven't heard anything back."
Then again, Knost might have been out when the call came. Last week, he played his 700th show since going full-time as a musician in 2005. He'll perform Friday during an after-work party at the Brickyard and Wednesday at Larry Bud's.
Knost is probably best known for solo acoustic shows on the patio at Mort's in Old Town, where by his count he's played 120 times, and in particular for his interpretation of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," a Cyndi Lauper song not covered by many male performers.
Despite being a little chagrined at just how often the song is requested, it's a pretty good indication of the "raw, vulnerable" side he tries to expose when playing solo acoustic gigs and writing his own songs.
What makes Knost unusual is that he's also capable of laying down screaming electric guitar leads, as he does when appearing as a sideman with Uche and the Crash, headed by his good friend Uche.
"Playing the lead guitar, it's the 'Id' part," Knost said, grinning again. "I get to go out and play the rock star for the cause."
In an interview on an Old Town patio, Knost appears much closer in personality to his acoustic side. He lights a cigarette and, after a few minutes of talking, apologizes for not having removed his sunglasses earlier. Later, he checks to make sure he doesn't sound conceited or jaded (which he doesn't).
"This is what I want to do with my life," he said. "This is what I've always wanted to do."
A Wichita native, Knost grew up listening to all kinds of music and playing in various local bands. He was in a band called Symbiant that got some local radio play, and then got a call from a traveling casino band needing a guitar player in 2004.
"I had to learn 60 songs in two days," he said. The band played six nights a week for three months in "everything short of Vegas."
When Knost returned to Wichita, he started concentrating more on solo acoustic gigs and writing original songs. His percussive acoustic guitar style evolved. He wrote about things he knew; his song "Wichita" is partly about the havoc our weather can wreak on outdoor gigs. He waited tables and worked construction to make ends meet until 2007, when he realized he could support himself playing music.
Knost has recorded several self-produced CDs, most recently a five-song EP called "No Truth Like the Weather," and ventured as far as Chicago and California to play gigs and open-mike nights for the exposure to potential fans.
He makes aggressive use of the Internet for promotion, with Facebook and MySpace accounts touting his music and upcoming shows. Indeed, he used a Facebook campaign to help snag his best gig to date — an opening slot for Uncle Kracker and Rehab in Hutchinson earlier this summer. Knost went on stage in front of 1,500 people who he knew were there to see somebody else. Afterward, he sold out of CDs and T-shirts, and even signed autographs.
"I walked away thinking, 'I got 'em. That works. Maybe I could do this.' "
Those are the kind of shows he's trying to find more of now. He wants to play more of his own songs, which right now comprise about 20 percent of his act, and play in the surrounding area to attract as many listeners as possible.
"I'm always just trying to catch that thing," he said, putting Guinevere in her case for a bit. "I hope to take some people with me."
If you go
scott allan knost
What: Wichita singer-songwriter and guitarist
Where: The Brickyard, 129 N. Rock Island
When: 5 p.m. Friday
How much: No cover
For more information, go to myspace.com/scottallanknostmusic.