Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thanks Ken and Jay!

Here are a couple of songs from the shop concert last night...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He's Back!

It's been a long and crazy summer with a precious few days left before the first snow hits, so what better way to celebrate these last fleeting days of warmth than by having our friend Ken Whiteley back for another shop concert? I'll tell you a better way -- by having Ken Whiteley back with harmonicanist* extraordinaire Jay Sewall! If Ken's concert in the shop this past April is any indication, we're in for great and bluesy night. We've already told you all about Ken; the real deal, Jedi master of the guitar, Canadian folk icon, yada yada yada... but what about Jay? Jay is an integral member of the Quebec blues community and a winner of the Lys Blues Lifetime Achievement award for 2008! Guitar, harmonica, blues, delicious homebrew beer... what more could you want!?


Saturday, Sept. 26th
5555 de Gaspe #304
Doors at 8 pm

Ken and Jay at the Mont Tremblant Blues Festival

*Just to clarify, a harmonicanist is someone who plays harmonica; not a member a fringe musical religion. And yes, I made that word up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Major Tom to Ground Control...

You might have asked yourself what prompted this breach of radio silence? You may be scratching your head (with ponderous fervor no doubt) what single event (in the staggering array of maddening inanities that is my life) has moved me to text? You may still ask yourself why should I even care?

That question, ladies and germs, can be answered in three measly syllables: "BĀ-lɘ Flek".

When the world's foremost 5-string banjo player journeys to Africa on a mission to explore the roots of his instrument you (quite naturally) stand up and take notice. When the world's foremost 5-string banjo player journeys to Africa on a mission to explore the roots of his instrument but decides to take a top-shelf sound engineer and film crew with him you (quite naturally) properly freak out and run around the room. Noble readership please tie your shoes and safely stow your personal electronic tomfoolery in the overhead compartment.

I implore you to rush out and secure yourself two tickets to the very next showing of this documentary film --one for you and one for the person who you would like (based on the no-doubt cathartic experience of this magical piece) to be permanently indebted to you. Promptly proceed to the theater, sink down into one of those 'oh too comfy' chairs, and bathe in 97 minutes of sheer musical bliss. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

***Note: If you find yourself in a culturally destitute area lacking a local theater to view this nugget of musical paradise at.... relax. All is not lost --though I might consider moving. You can always purchase the album --I bought it right after the film and have listened to it exactly 2.42 times today.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Griffintown Jug Addicts at Mile End Guitars

... and yet another Friday night concert. Two dynamite modern bluesmen, a washboard player who moonlights as a cobbler, and a world class 'gutbucket' player make up Quebec's only true jug band. The "Griffintown Jug Addicts" meld great country blues, ragtime, and jazz into one heck of a ripsnorting great show.

"The Griffintown Jug Addicts" -

Guaranteed to be a real barn burner, come on down and wear out your shoe leather!

It all takes place Friday, July 3'rd at:

Mile-end Guitar Shop
5555 de Gaspe
Suite #304

The shop will be open around 8:00 and music should get rolling about 9:30-10:00'ish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still 5' 7"

In some parts of the world I am incredibly tall. Unfortunately, I live in Montreal and not amongst the pygmies of central Africa and thus remain firmly rooted in the slightly below average height range. For the next month however, I can satisfy any lingering fantasies of giganticism through my work in the shop. I recently started the woodwork on a tenor guitar that I will be showing at the Montreal Guitar Show in the beginning of July. I can say with relative certainty that I haven't actually grown in the past few weeks, but working on such a small guitar certainly makes it seem that way...

On the left is a nearly complete Western Red Cedar / Indian Rosewood guitar next to the top and back of the tenor

So what is a tenor guitar you ask? (go ahead, ask....I'll wait...) A tenor guitar is basically a regular guitar's kid brother -- four strings, smaller, and tuned in fifths. I'm not sure why a kid brother would be tuned in fifths instead of fourths, but let's just go with the analogy, okay? In the evolution of the modern guitar, tenors were introduced in the 1920's as the missing link between the banjo and guitar. They provided banjo players with a feel they were accustomed to but with the voice of a guitar. They're also super cool.

In other exciting news, for those of you who read Acoustic Guitar Magazine, turn to page 53 of the current issue (with Neko Case holding a tenor guitar on the cover!) to see a picture of one of my guitars. Huzzah!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do I have to sell it?

Here's a quick clip of me playing Doc's Guitar (by, you guessed it, Doc Watson) on one of my recent guitars...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yes, we still build guitars...

First, let's get something straight. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we do actually spend most of our time building guitars and not promoting/attending concerts. That having been said, we've got a killer shop concert planned for this weekend...

(thanks Julia for the poster!)

Ken Whiteley is officially the real deal. A multi-instrumentalist with a powerful voice that draws from a deep repertoire of blues, gospel, and folk music, Ken's been performing and recording since the 60's. When Mike O'Brien stopped by the shop the other day to return one of Jeremy's guitars he had been borrowing, he got to talking about Ken and said, "He's like Jedi, man. Right when you think he's completely blown your mind he plays something else and blows it even more."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Li'l Andy and Terry Joe Banjo Shop Concert

The town I grew up in has no stoplights -- I am not from a city. Moving to Montreal last fall was a big change for many reasons and living in a city for the first time was one of the biggest. I was sure I'd be lost in a sea of unknown (and much more fashionably attired) people without any sense of community. I could not have been more wrong. I am constantly surprised at all the familiar faces and friends we run into at concerts, art exhibits, and even just walking down the sidewalk. At the beginning of the month we hosted another fantastic shop concert that really made me appreciate this feeling. At one point in each of their sets both Li'l Andy and Terry Joe Banjo had the crowd sing along and everyone sang together. Looking around and seeing a crowd of friends and smiling singers made me realize that we really are part of a community here, even in a "big city" like Montreal. And I'll tell you, it feels pretty good!

The night started with a stellar performance by Terry Joe Banjo. Terry Joe frails a long necked Gibson 5 string banjo like no one I've ever seen. One of my all-time heroes Doc Watson described Terry Joe's playing as "...some mighty fine banjo picking... I've never heard anyone frail that fast in all my life." Trust me, if Doc Watson says you're good, you're good. Terry Joe is also quite a versatile performer playing guitar, harmonica, a paper bag (apparently Tim Horton's bags have superior acoustic properties), and doing a little shuffle tap dance at various points throughout his set. You can hear one of his songs, "For Pete's Sake", below...

"For Pete's Sake" - Terry Joe Banjo
(audio only)

About 3 days into my first guitar building course Pat and Joshia brought me into Ottawa to see a friend's concert. Little did I know then that over four years later I would have seen Li'l Andy play countless shows and actually get the chance to have him perform in our shop! The CBC (that's Canadian for NPR for my American comrades) described Andy as having a "knack for packing the entire tear-jerking history of country music into one sucker-punch to the gut". Normally I don't enjoy getting punched in the gut (sucker or not), but I'll take it every time when Andy's doing the singing. Listen to him belt it out on "Auburn Fades Away"...

"Auburn Fades Away" - Li'l Andy
(audio only)

ps. Andy, if you read this, next time I see you please don't actually punch me in the gut.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nuit Blanche Schedule

We're all very excited to be one of the venues for Nuit Blanche on Feb. 28th. Here is the current music line-up and make sure to check back for updates and additions!

9pm Amos Joannides

10pm Mike O'Brien

11pm Kit Soden

12:30am Mark Berube

Of course we'll also be displaying some great art by local artists....

Kevin Ledo

Jennifer Hamilton