Recordings > So Many Guitars
This CD has its roots in the first Newport Guitar Festival, which took place in 2006. I had been invited by Rochester NY luthier Bernie Lehmann to go along for the fun and maybe play a little concert on his guitars as part of the festival. I said, “Sure, why not. Sounds like fun.” Thus began a journey into the world of steel string guitar luthiery, about which I had known very little.
One festival lead to another: Newport RI, Montreal Canada, Miami FL, Healdsburg CA, Woodstock NY. Along the way I have made some good friends and have played some great instruments, each special in its own way. Guitar builders these days are pushing the boundaries of luthiery, trying exotic woods and exploring entirely new designs. From time to time I have had the good fortune to record some of these guitars, which has lead to this CD.
On this recording you will hear ten different handmade guitars (including one antique), some made with traditional materials, others using nontraditional woods and in some cases radical new designs. They have been recorded using various microphones, recording machines and different rooms, so I have had to do a little electronic tweaking to get them all to work on the same CD. This was kept to a minimum. If there were space I would write volumes about these guitars but there isn’t so I’ll just mention a little bit about the materials and models for those who might be interested. Some guitars have model numbers or even have been given names. Why not?
Tom Siebert’s Boat — I wrote this while sailing on a friend’s 42’ sailboat from Gloucester to Newport in 1968. The song didn’t get played in Newport again until the 2006 Newport Guitar Festival... Bernie Lehmann ... flat top... Adirondack Spruce top w/ Pearwood back and sides.
Song Of India — When I was a youngster my folks had a 78 rpm record of the symphonic version of this, gorgeous and lush. I forgot about the tune until I heard Danny Gatton playing it in a country band in 1977. “Gee I know that tune...what is that?” So here it is on a guitar built by Julius Borges, founder of the Newport Guitar Festival, and a fan of Danny’s. Julius Borges guitar... 000-12 flat top ...Koa top, back and sides.
Spanish Harlem — Again from my early years. I always loved the tune. Bruce Petros “Tunnel 13 GC” flat top...100 year old Redwood top made from lumber recovered from an old train tunnel. Walnut back and sides.
Secret Love — Another favorite from my early years, sung with great honesty by Doris Day. Ken Parker ... arch top... “Spot” ... Sitka Spruce top, Figured Aspen back and sides.
Arabian Dance — I first recorded this in 1971. It got used on an LP produced by students at the the University of Rochester and included in “the box”, an Art and Mother Earth project created for the first “Earth Day.” Ken Parker... arch top... “Mrs. Natural”...Red Spruce top, Figured Maple back and sides.
Georgia — ... for my wife. Ken Parker ... arch top... “Brownie” ... Red Spruce top, Curley Mahogony back and sides. Radical new design arch top guitars, extremely light weight , in the neighborhood of three pounds!
Embryonic Journey — From the psychedelic album Surrealistic Pillow, heard all through 1967’s ‘Summer of Love’. This song was one of only a few now-classic fingerstyle guitar instrumentals heard on the radio in those days. It has become a foundational piece for fingerstyle players of a certain age. Dave MacCubbin... flat top... ”Chesapeake Bay” Series, “The Fisherman. Sitka Spruce top, Sapele back and sides.
Sukyaki — From 1962. This is the only pop song in the Japanese language to ever make the charts in America. It reached the top of the Billboard 100 charts for 1963 and sold 13 million copies worldwide. Dave MacCubbin... flat top... Adirondack Spruce top, Madagascar Rosewood back and sides. Jumbo body with 2” classical neck.
The Minute Rag — I wrote this in 1971 and used to play it at The Alternative Coffee House at the Univ. Of Rochester campus. It’s actually a little longer than a minute... Bernie Lehmann... flat top...Adirondack Spruce top w/ Pearwood back and sides.
The Land Of Make Believe — Chuck Mangione made a big impression on me back in the early 1970s conducting the newly invented Eastman Jazz Ensemble. He had a huge success with his Friends And Love concert at Eastman Theater in which my guitar teacher Stanley Watson participated. I rediscovered this tune in the late 1970’s at a Danny Gatton/Buddy Emmonds Redneck Jazz Explosion gig in Boston. Julius Borges...OM-28 flat top ... Engelmann Spruce top, Indian Rosewood back and sides
Improvising On A Bach Bouree — It was my other guitar teacher Gene Bertoncini who introduced me in 1976 to the idea of taking a classical piece and turning it into a jazz tune on guitar. After hearing Lenny Breau and Buddy Emmonds play this tune in 1978 I decided to see what I could do with it. Then last year a friend of mine loaned me a 90 year old harp guitar for a few months and I found a whole new voice for the tune. Larson Brothers ... 90 year old Harp Guitar! ... Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides.
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